Empowering Students: Hanna Snellman's Vision for Una Europa

In the heart of Una Europa, a dynamic university alliance, Hanna Snellman takes the helm as Chair of the Board of Directors. Her journey is filled with excitement and an unwavering passion for the transformative power of higher education. Hanna believes in the alliance's mission, driven by a vibrant atmosphere and a collective desire to create something entirely new.

Higher education is evolving, and Una Europa is at the forefront, weaving together diverse traditions to illuminate a brighter future. Una Europa Student Board member Sara Korjus invited Hanna to share her vision what the University of the Future, Una Europa looks for students. 

With over 600,000 students across 11 universities, Una Europa recognizes the challenge of connecting with each individual. Yet, Hanna views this as an invaluable asset. These students,with each of their cultural linguistic background, serve as ambassadors for the positive changes Una Europa hopes to inspire. In an ever-changing era, Hanna emphasizes the importance of students learning not only from professors but from each other and themselves. Students play a pivotal role, helping shape the landscape of higher education in the coming years.

Una Europa's Strategy 2030 holds a world of inspiration for students, especially in the promise of making mobility more accessible. According to Hanna, mobility can take many forms, from physical to virtual:

“Mobility, physical or virtual mobility, they were at least for myself the inspiration when I first learned about Una Europa. I felt this is something to really work for. Mobility is not only physical mobility. We don’t expect each student to go abroad, to go to a different country. There are other ways of mobility. Taking courses in the other university for example, internationalization at home, meeting with students at your home university who are from abroad.”

Una Europa provides a platform for students to craft their unique mobility paths, aligning with their goals and abilities. Every graduate emerges from Una Europa with a distinct background, wishes, and career aspirations, and the choices they make pave the way for their individualized journeys.

Interdisciplinarity is at the core of Una Europa's mission. Hanna highlights that it's not something they need to encourage; it's their foundation. Initiatives like seed funding exercises, MOOCs, the One Health Summer School, and new bachelor programs all embody interdisciplinary principles. This holistic approach makes Una Europa a wellspring of inspiration for students as they combine different traditions to create something entirely new.

Sustainability forms a strong foundation for Una Europa's actions, with a focus on educating students about its importance. Hanna mentions the upcoming Sustainability bachelor program and Micro-Credentials in Sustainability, urging students to explore these opportunities, as she argues:

I highly recommend that students take a look at these Micro-Credentials and think if they can include them in their degree. They cover environmental, economic and social aspects of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

She believes students will become sustainability ambassadors, influencing the future when they graduate:

What I have heard it's exciting take those Micro-Credentials and of course, each student comes with a new perspective. They will be the ambassadors of sustainability in the future when they graduate their universities.”

Students hold the power to turn sustainability knowledge into action. Hanna encourages students to apply what they've learned, be proactive in staying updated, and integrate sustainability into their lives, both academically and professionally. Hanna wishes that each student, regardless of their major, could practice flexibility to renew their knowledge and become life-long learners.

Una Europa is continually evolving, offering students a growing array of internationalization, collaboration, and study opportunities to empower their educational journey. It's a journey of transformation and inspiration, guided by Hanna's visionary leadership. 


Questions from Students: 

  1. What would be the best way to organize in-person events where students from different universities could meet? (Aino, Helsinki)

Hanna: An in-person event with more than half a million students, that is a challenge. I think in every university we have to think of the ways to tackle that challenge. First, I think one way of doing this is to build connections with the Local task Forces. Finding the people who are in the same country, in the same city and create hybrid events where part of the people are in the same room, same location but the other part is in another Una Europa university. Also, I think it’s a good idea to connect exchange students in their respective Una Europa universities to the in-person meetings. Also the Student Congress, which is a yearly meeting. Six students per each university, three-day workshop, that’s of course also a great event on-site.


Sara: Yes, perfect. Yesterday we just had a hybrid meeting with our Local Task Forces where we met up in a room together with the Helsinki Local Task Force and were on Zoom with people from Bologna and Kraków. I really like those experiences and they really help us connect with people from other universities. Those work, at least for me.


  1. It is impossible to give all students the chance to travel inside the alliance as part of their degree but are you planning on implementing a system where good marks, for example could be a determining factor on your mobility possibilities? Could mobility be made more accessible through scholarships or other similar ways? (Marta, Madrid)


Hanna: Una Europa does not have their own scholarships so that’s something that we will not be working on. Each university has their own way of selecting students to go on exchange so there will be no common guidelines. What universities have to do is respect equal and transparent student selection that the students can trust.

Sara: So making the selection process just more open to students and being really clear of what happens at each part of the process so students are not left wondering what goes on behind the scenes.

Hanna: Yes, that should be common to all the universities, but they have their own ways of doing the actual selection.