University networks should not need to be new, science and technology group says
Members of the Cesaer network of science and technology universities have called on the European Commission to put funding towards tried and tested institutional networks in the next phase of the EU’s European Universities Initiative.
Results of the first call indicate that the Commission “is funding innovative approaches to higher education cooperation rather than already established and functioning models,” the group wrote in a 28 October position paper on the initiative, which aims to strengthen institutions and foster mobility through cross-border alliances.
“In our view, the networks do not necessarily need to be new, but must demonstrate excellence, effectiveness and efficiency,” Cesaer said.
The Commission announced that the first 17 European Universities networks allocated €85 million in the inaugural pilot round of the initiative on 26 June. They bring together 114 institutions from 24 EU member states, ranging from technical and fine arts universities to research-intensive ones. Each alliance of university networks will receive up to €5m over three years.
Cesaer also called for “generous” funding when the European Universities Initiative ramps up fully under the Erasmus+ mobility programme in 2021. It encouraged the Commission to support synergies with other EU funding instruments, such as the Horizon Europe R&D programme and regional cohesion funds.
The group, which has more than 50 member institutions in 23 countries—not all of them in the EU—said the initiative should be open to institutions in all 48 countries in the European Higher Education Area. It said that “more clarity is needed” on how geographical representation is taken into account in the evaluation of projects.
On 25 October, the Spanish government announced that it had granted just under €3m to the 11 Spanish institutions participating in the initiative to help them cover their costs. It allocated a further €125,000 to institutions involved in projects that were well evaluated but missed out on selection for EU funding.