Circle U. and other alliances met French Minister, Frédérique Vidal

In preparation for the upcoming French Presidency of the European Union, French Minister for higher education, research and innovation, Frédérique Vidal, met the 41 alliances on 15 November to discuss their ongoing developments and the future of the European Universities initiative.

Photo: © Frédérique Vidal’s Cabinet

With the 2017 call of President Emmanuel Macron, France has undoubtfully played a central role in launching the European Universities Initiative. On 1 January 2022, France will take over the presidency of the European Union and is willing to go forward and further develop the European flagship initiative. 

In this perspective, Minister Frédérique Vidal invited leaders of the 41 alliances to participate in a workshop at her Cabinet organized in hybrid mode. Circle U. was represented by its Secretary General, Kevin Guillaume, and actively contributed to the discussions. In preparation of the meeting, with the support of the Management Board and in particular Université de Paris’ representative, Prof. Antoine Cazé, Circle U. had sent some written contributions. 

European degrees

The workshop was facilitated by “FOREU2”, the forum of alliances selected in the 2nd call of the pilot phase. Three main topics were on the agenda: the development of European degrees, the academic and scientific career development as well as the potentials of a more increased integration of the alliances. In preparation, alliances were asked to draft some written contributions, explaining for example the initiatives taken so far, the challenges encountered, the solutions developed, etc. 

Concerning European degrees, the minister and participants exchanged on the European approach for quality assurance of joint programmes, the remaining obstacles at national and institutional level, as well as the potentials of micro-credentials for Europe’s learners. For Circle U., beyond developing joint programmes and degrees, the core element is to work together on the development of joint approach to education and learning. The current work on the development and promotion of sustainable education (led by work package 6 in the Erasmus+ project) will contribute to this ambition.

Career development and further integration

Concerning academic and research career development, participants underlined the fact that alliances are now experimenting models to facilitate career development at European level. For Circle U., the academic chair programme is a concrete action that might be opening career opportunities for academics and researchers. 

Concerning the further integration of alliances, the minister and participants unanimously agreed that it remains very complicated today to establish joint and transnational laboratories or research infrastructures, as it has been underlined by Circle U. work package 7. About the legal status of the existing alliances, our Secretary General emphasized the fact that establishing legally Circle U. – and thus a joint governance framework of the alliance – is engaging partners in a sustainable and long-lasting cooperation that is not “dependent” on the EU-funded projects. 

The future of the European Universities Alliances

Concluding the workshop, Minister Frédérique Vidal reiterated the commitment of the French Presidency to support the future development of the initiative. The minister appreciated the exchanges and the concrete examples provided by the participants that will certainly feed the political discussions. The alliances unanimously acknowledged the unique opportunity offered by the French minister to meet, discuss and potentially contribute to the future policy development. 

An important next step will be the French Presidency conference/workshop on the future of the European Universities Alliances that will be held on 26 January 2022. To which Circle U. will actively contribute. 


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Published Dec. 3, 2021 12:55 PM - Last modified Dec. 3, 2021 3:27 PM