European University application submitted

Over the last 18 months, the Circle U. partners have met every month to build trust and mutual understanding. Presidents, academic leaders, students and administrative staff have assembled across institutions to find new ideas, and to discuss and debate obstacles and solutions.

The Circle U. coordination group met in Louvain-la-Neuve in January to make the final decisions.   

Our students are at the heart of our alliance, and have been involved since the beginning in the development of the Circle U. concept.  They have already hosted several student seminars where they have constructively contributed on all topics and discussed how to strengthen students’ participation through their student democracies. They will have active roles in the governance and the implementation of the alliance.

We have also involved stakeholders within and outside our universities and connected with enthusiastic organisations and businesses wanting to join Circle U. as associated partners.

The trust, ideas and insights developed through these co-creating processes constitute our European University application.

Our vision

By 2025, Circle U. is an inclusive, research-intensive and interdisciplinary European university. Students, staff and partners from civil society, businesses and the public sector collaborate to jointly develop competencies and solutions for keeping Europe and our planet healthy, peaceful, democratic and prosperous.

Our mission

Empowering our students and staff to mobilize knowledge for impact in order to make the world a better place.

Our alliance

We are strongly committed to each other

Our Alliance consists of seven equally-committed universities with a shared dedication to Circle U.’s long-term transformational processes and future. Our Alliance is grounded in existing and solid partnerships; however Circle U. represents a considerable shift in our commitment to each other. Since the initial Memorandum of Understanding was signed in October 2018, our diverse communities have been involved in the co-construction of the Alliance. Students actively contribute to our development process and their inputs were crucial in the drafting of our proposal.

We share the same values

Our seven universities are all comprehensive, research-intensive universities firmly built on academic freedom and integrity as fundamental values. Each play important roles in shaping national and regional higher education and research systems. As role models, we share the awareness of our special responsibility to inclusiveness and to society at large. We share the same commitment to our students by continuously developing innovative and creative ways to teach and learn, focusing on research-based and interdisciplinary knowledge.

We embrace European identity in all our diversity

We are likeminded universities, enriching each other with our variety of cultures, histories and geographic locations. Regional diversity is important in our Alliance. We encompass universities from Erasmus+ programme countries outside the European Union, including differing relationships to the European Union. This knitting together of Europe brings the European Union closer together, and also contributes to the building of a broader European identity. We view this as a strength, as it sends a strong message to citizens in favour of diversity and inclusion.

We strive for the same goals

Our Circle, grounded in a dedication to ethical principles and a sustainable society, links together our missions in education, research, innovation and service to society, and paves the way for the universities of the future. Initiatives in key areas make these links stronger and concrete and focus efforts on sustainability. Our Alliance transforms our way of interacting with each other and with our external partners, and help us to shape the future of the European Education and Research Areas to the benefit of our students, staff and society at large.

Our ambitions

The post-war European project has brought peace and prosperity beyond anyone’s expectation. As the world around us becomes more fractured, unsettled and unsustainable, never has preserving the planet and furthering the European project been so important. The central challenges Europe and the world face – poverty, inequality, climate change and a need for a green transformation, migration, a growing digital divide and health inequity – can only be resolved through collective action.

Circle U. aims to be a key contributor to resolving these challenges by jointly producing and sharing knowledge, but also by ensuring that:

  • Students and staff have the skillset, mind-set and values to use that knowledge to contribute to society, and to cooperate across disciplines, sectors and national borders.
  • Students and staff are able to connect meaningfully to external stakeholders to mobilize that knowledge into transformative actions for society through interaction with public, private and civil society actors.

Joining forces, we want to provide a new model to transform the knowledge triangle into an ethically-principled knowledge square, building even stronger links between education, research, innovation and service to society, encompassing policy makers as well as citizens.

We are jointly committed to this transformational change and to developing a blueprint for a truly flagship European university: 

  • We will act as a developer and testing ground for new concepts in higher education and research cooperation, also in line with the continuous reskilling and lifelong learning agenda.
  • We will provide proof of concepts for new approaches to boosting mobility, co-designing courses and learning processes, and linking education and research.
  • We will disseminate best practices from our own initiatives and other peer institutions.
  • We will serve as convenors for multi-stakeholder conversations.

By doing this we will further empower our 334,000 students and 51,000 staff to mobilize their knowledge into transformative actions for society. Ultimately, this will lead to an even stronger and more effective contribution to a sustainable society and biosphere, thus making the world a better place.


Published Feb. 28, 2020 1:00 PM - Last modified July 22, 2020 8:24 AM