54 networks bid to join European Universities pilot

Dozens of bids have been received to join the pilot of the European Universities Initiative, Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, has confirmed. 

He announced via Twitter on 1 March that he was “proud” to have received 54 consortium applications for the European Universities pilot by the 28 February deadline. 

The initiative has been given extra impetus over the past 18 months since President Emmanuel Macron of France called for the creation by 2024 of 20 “European Universities” and in December 2017 the Gothenburg summit of European leaders supported it, calling for the 20 ‘European Universities’ to consist of networks of universities across the European Union that would “enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of universities”.

The call for candidates for the pilot has proved very popular, with European Commission officials reporting one information day meeting in Brussels in December packed out with 300 people while a thousand more followed the proceedings on line.

As a result, on 12 February the European Commission announced that the programme had been allocated an additional €30 million (US$34 million), doubling the total to €60 million for the pilot, enabling 12 of the 54 networks to be selected for funding in the first stage of the pilot. 

The European Universities strand of Erasmus+ will have another call for proposals later in 2019 with a deadline in October, bringing Macron’s call a step closer to reality. 

Where existing university networks in Europe are mostly short-term arrangements for three to five years, this initiative is intended to support the development of networks geared to 20- to 30-year strategies, enabling a deep level of integration. 

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