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EUTOPIA, a next-generation teaching and research community of six European universities, which was successful in its selection to be part of the Erasmus+ ‘European Universities’ Programme this year, officially begins its project today, 1st December 2019.
The alliance, which currently spans the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Sweden, Spain and Slovenia, continues to forge a ‘European University’ of the future — a network of campuses working together to develop a new model of internationally connected, inclusive, student-led higher education that has not been seen before.
EUTOPIA is comprised of Vrije Universiteit Brussel, CY Cergy Paris Université, the University of Gothenburg, the Pompeu Fabra University – Barcelona, the University of Warwick, and is led by the University of Ljubljana. It launched its mission in 2019 at the Solvay Library in Brussels. The partners are dedicated to addressing local and global issues by collaborating not just as six institutions, but also as six European regions with links to businesses and policy makers, delivering research and ideas that will impact the lives of ordinary citizens.
Moreover, EUTOPIA exists to boost the mobility of students, academics, and university staff by testing new methods of cooperative teaching, learning, and working beyond national borders. Presidents and other key representatives from each partner institution will come together on 2nd December 2019 in Ljubljana, to celebrate successes so far, to mark the start of the project, and to plan more collaborative initiatives.
Already, six PhD candidates have begun studying and receiving joint supervision between the University of Warwick and either Vrije Universiteit Brussel or CY Cergy Paris Université, thanks to the EUTOPIA-funded co-tutelle scholarships. The scholars began their PhD projects in October 2019, with two more due to start soon, conducting research in fields such as Complexity Science, Reproductive Science, as well as Arts, Humanities and Cultural Heritage. The co-tutelle scholarship programme was made possible thanks to a joint investment of £500,000 from the three institutions currently involved. It is set to be extended across the other EUTOPIA partner institutions, enabling PhD candidates to be co-supervised across the breadth of Europe.
Double Masters Programme
In addition, students have the opportunity to undertake a Double Masters programme in ‘European Integration’, developed between the Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the University of Warwick’s Department of Politics and International Studies. From the next academic year, these Double MA students will study for a year at each institution, with their final project jointly supervised and marked between the two institutions, receiving qualifications from both universities. For the last five years, there has already existed a similar Double Masters programme in ‘Political Science’ and ‘Political Philosophy’ between the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and the University of Warwick. Other collaborative courses across the network are also under discussion.
EUTOPIA Secretary General appointed
EUTOPIA has recently appointed its first Secretary General, Nikki Muckle. Nikki has worked at the University of Warwick for the past two decades, and has most recently been responsible for leading the University’s European strategy, including building and maintaining institutional links with key partners across the continent — and has been instrumental in establishing the EUTOPIA network. Momentum has built rapidly since EUTOPIA launched its mission in February 2019. Since then it has been successful in its bid to be included in the pilot for the Erasmus+ European Universities programme, receiving €5m and recognition as a leading alliance of institutions by the European Commission.
Other activities that have taken place in the EUTOPIA partnership include:
- Extensive mobility of students and staff across the EUTOPIA campuses, wider Europe, and the world, as part of the ERASMUS+ exchange programmes
- The Universities of Warwick and Gothenberg are both members of the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA), an Africa-led initiative that seeks to rebuild and to strengthen the capacity of African universities to produce world-class researchers
- Students from the EUTOPIA partners spent time this summer at the Barcelona International Summer School (Pompeu Fabra University – Barcelona), where they will take courses in Spanish and English
- Students from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and from Pompeu Fabra University – Barcelona participated in the Warwick-run International Conference of Undergraduate Research in September 2019
- A number of academic mobility schemes, including the Fernandes Fellowships programme (University of Warwick), and the EUTOPIA International Fellowships programme (CY Cergy Paris Université) provide the opportunity for EUTOPIA academics to undertake research visits at partner universities. The EUTOPIA partner institutions are also developing exchange programmes for students and professional administrative staff
- Numerous research workshops continue to take place across the EUTOPIA partner institutions, including one that was hosted by University of Ljubljana in the area of Computer and Data Science, and an upcoming workshop between the University of Gothenberg and Warwick. Further collaborations continue in the areas of Complexity Science, Theoretical Physics, Political and Social Sciences, and Arts and Cultural Heritage
Caroline Pauwels, Rector of Vrije Universteit Brussel, said:
“I’m proud that the Vrije Universteit Brussel, with five other ambitious European universities in the EUTOPIA alliance, has been chosen by the European Commission as one of the pilot projects for developing a ‘European university’. Our shared aim is to create a common European learning and knowledge community that will transform our universities into living labs for education, research and innovation. Through open science and open education, with EUTOPIA we are creating a shared ‘multiversity’ with a strong multilingual, multidisciplinary and multicultural research and education agenda.”