At the midterm workshop of the ESEU-project, more than 100 participants discussed the needs for an ideal legal status for Alliances of higher education institutions to overcome challenges in transnational collaboration. The big interest in the workshop shows the relevance of the topic to stakeholders and policy-makers.
The objective of the workshop was twofold. On the one hand, the project team shared the findings so far to build understanding for the needs for a legal status for Alliances, a status both for European University Alliances and other strategic networks of higher education institutions. The team pitched the available legal instruments and their limitations and the national context of the topic. On the other hand, the participants were asked for input on the concrete challenges they face in transnational university collaboration. This input will be used to develop a roadmap to advice policy-makers on the steps to take towards a legal status for Alliances. Participants ranged from Alliance representatives, national policy-makers, ministries, university networks and colleagues from other organisations like quality assurance agencies.
First, Vanessa Debiais-Sainton (Head of Unit Higher Education at the European Commission) opened the workshop, underlining the strong support from the European Commission, political leaders and Member States for a European instrument to support transnational collaboration between higher education institutions. She requested input to a mapping of the concrete obstacles for transnational collaboration and input to the design of a new instrument, or on how to adapt existing instruments.
Next was an explanation about the needs for a legal status by Heli Harrikari (strategic lead ECIU University), based on the eight use cases that were formulated in an earlier phase of the ESEU-project.
Osama Arshad and Juliette Byl (Utrecht University) summarised an analysis of available legal structures and their match with the use cases. The conclusion was that there is no existing instrument particularly suitable to advance the broad needs of ECIU University.
Reda Nausėdaitė (Kaunas University of Technology) summarised the findings of the ESEU-project when conducting surveys and interviews with eleven national authorities. It was concluded the key for success is working together with other Alliances on identifying the exact needs from a legal status and challenges in transnational university collaboration is.
Olga Wessels (ECIU Brussels’ Office) asked all participants to provide concrete input to the to be developed roadmap to advice policy-makers on key elements for a legal status for Alliances, and also for other consortia of higher education institutions, and which challenges must be overcome. These questions were discussed in break-out groups on teaching and learning; research; innovation and engagement with society; human resources; and) other topics.
Finally, Daniela Craciun (Associate Professor at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, CHEPS) pitched the final event of the project, planned for April 2024 in Brussels, together with three other policy experimentation projects on the legal status, and six other projects on the European Degree.
More information about the ESEU project can be found here. A recording of the meeting is available on request at olga.wessels(at)ecu.org