European universities, a project beyond Erasmus

  • The Eutopia alliance, in which UPF participates, holds its first face-to-face meeting in Barcelona

  • Six of these universities are already taking a step forward with the signing of a free mobility agreement

Barcelona This week hosts the first face-to-face meeting -the previous three were online due to the pandemic- of the alliance Eutopia, one of the pilot experiences of the European universities promoted by the European Commission. Eutopia is the university alliance in which the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) along with nine other universities: Warwick (UK), from Gothenburg (Sweden), the NEW of Lisboa, the CY Cergy of Paris, the Ca’Foscari of Venice, the Technical University of Dresden, the of Ljubljana (Eslovenia), la Free de Brussels and the Babeș-Bolyai of Cluj-Napoca (Romania). The rectors of all of them meet at Eutopia Week to give impetus to this ambitious initiative that represents the natural step and a qualitative leap important of Erasmus program towards an authentic European university, with a campus that transcends borders and in which the students of these centers can move freely. “It is the Erasmus plus, plus, plus”, summarizes graphically Pilgrim Viader, UPF commissioner for the Eutopia project.

And it is that when it is underway, in 2028, the students of these universities will be able to have the experiences of mobility they want within Eutopia, without worrying about the length of their stays – Erasmus is limited in time – or the files academics, nor the Recognition from subjects or titles nor from the bureaucracy. All of them will have the title of their university and the title of Eutopia, which will be recognized throughout the European Union.

Internationalization opportunity

“For universities, it is an opportunity to internationalize and gain tremendous visibility. UPF will go from being a university of 15,000 students to being part of a community of 300,000,” Viader points out. And it will not only be an opportunity for students, but also for teachers, who will be able to share methods and knowledge, and for researchers. “If we have a department with 80 professors, we will have 10 departments with 800 professors. That will give the scientific community a greater opportunity to promote research,” he adds.

One of the challenges that is already being worked on is to agree on the methods and contents educational and evaluation system. Viader points out that this unification will allow to increase the quality and advance towards an education “more of learning and of competencies and less of teaching classes. “Here too it will be necessary to unify the duration of degrees, since while in Spain the majority are 4 years old, in the EU the majority are 3. The UPF commissioner for Eutopia emphasizes that Spanish legislation is already moving forward to enable the viability of these European universities. Thus, the royal decree for the organization of university education contemplates three-year degrees within the framework of European programs.

Other challenges have to do with the technological part of the project: database unification, to achieve the single file, and digitization to have a single platform of work.

Mobility agreement for the 2022-2023 academic year

And the proof that they are serious is that this Tuesday, six of these universities – including UPF – will sign a mobility agreement For which from the next academic year 2022-2023 they will launch a student exchange program, outside the Erasmus program.

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“The Erasmus program has opened the door to all this. Without it, this project of European universities would not have been possible. Erasmus has been, together with the euro, what has helped the most to create european citizenship. It has shown that there can be European understanding and that the different tongues they are not a barrier, “Viader emphasizes.

The Eutopia project is just one of 40 underway. And it is not the only one with a Catalan presence. The University of Barcelona (UB), the Autonomous University (UAB) and the UPC participate in similar university alliances. Thus, the UB integrates CHARM European University with Trinity College Dublin, the University of Montpellier, Utrecht and the Hungarian Eotvos Lorand Tudomanyegyetem. The UAB is part of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU), together with the Alboorg University, Aveiro, Hamburg, Dublin City, Linköping, Kaunas, Nottingham, Stavenger and Twente. And the UPC participates in the University Network for Innovation, Technology and Engineering (Unite!) With the Higher Technical Institute of Lisbon, the Polytechnic of Grenoble, that of Turin, Darmstadt, the Royal Institute of Technology of Stockholm and the Aalto University.

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