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Almost 300 more universities seek to join EU-backed alliances

EU reveals applications received for European Universities Initiative call with record €384 million budget

Almost 300 universities have applied to create new alliances under the EU’s European Universities Initiative for financing cross-border collaborations among higher education institutions.

In addition, more than 200 universities have applied to strengthen existing EUI alliances, which carry out collaborative work such as creating joint campuses, qualifications and posts.

Altogether, just over 500 universities have come together to create 65 proposals for a share of the €384 million offered by the 2023 EUI call, the European Commission announced on 9 February. This is the highest call budget yet for the scheme.

Following initial 2019 and 2020 EUI calls and the first follow-up call in 2022, there are now 44 EUI alliances involving 340 higher education institutions across the continent, funded through the EU’s Erasmus+ scheme for academic mobility and, to a lesser extent, by its R&D programme.

The 2023 call aims to bring the initiative closer to its target of supporting 60 alliances involving over 500 higher education institutions by mid-2024.

In a change from the three previous calls, countries in the Western Balkans were allowed to apply to become full partners in the EUI alliances this year. The Commission said that universities from four of the six Western Balkan countries applied to the call.

The wide interest in taking part in the scheme came despite a study commissioned by the European Parliament education committee finding that the initiative is operating in an “unsustainable” and “disjointed” way.

That study called for improved funding for the EUI, underscoring concerns already raised by the alliances that the current funding is insufficient to support the high ambitions being set for them.