The funding, allocated to the network’s four-year Una.Universitas project, is needed, as the previous 1Europe project and its related programmes conclude this year. Establishing new kinds of shared operating models and concepts and other infrastructure with membership fees alone would be impossible.
“The funding also has enormous symbolic significance, as there is heated competition between several European university networks for funds awarded by the Commission,” says Vice-Rector Hanna Snellman, who oversees the Una Europa partnership at the University of Helsinki.
In the summer, the Una Europa network was also successful in another competitive funding scheme, as the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) chose the Innovation by Creative Economies (ICE) consortium as the recipient of €300 million in EIT Culture & Creativity funding. Una Europa is a member in the consortium.
Presently, Una Europa comprises 11 European universities. As a member of Una Europa, the University of Helsinki contributed to drawing up the funding application, and part of the project funding (roughly €1.5 million) will be coming directly to the University of Helsinki.
The planning of the project will continue in the autumn, followed by its launch in December 2022.
Sharing the best competencies
Una Europa is a collaboration network of European universities, an alliance established in 2018 to strengthen the European university sector. The University of Helsinki has been involved in the network since its inception and an official member since 2019.
The guiding principle of the association, which is registered in Belgium, is to provide the staff and students of the partner universities with new opportunities for study, mobility and work. For example, one aim is to establish a common pool of educational offerings for students of the universities included in the network.
According to the goals, half the students will complete studies also at partner universities, either through traditional student exchange or online teaching.
“To our students and staff, the network denotes diverse internationalisation opportunities in the form of, among other things, joint degree programmes, online courses, international traineeships, doctoral education, researcher mobility and joint staff training,” says Jenna Sorjonen, Project Manager for Una Europa collaboration, who coordinated the preparations for the application process for the University of Helsinki.
“The network is based on the idea that each of the top-level universities can offer the network its best expertise and seek the best from the other partners. You don’t have to do everything at every location,” Snellman adds.
Six research focus areas
Una Europa’s investment in the natural sciences will be boosted by the addition of Future Materials alongside its current five focus areas or themes: Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, European Studies, Cultural Heritage, Sustainability, and One Health. The University’s Kumpula Campus has lots to contribute to the new theme.
In the future, European Studies as the title of one of the focus areas will be replaced by ‘Europe and the World’ to emphasise the open nature of research and interaction with the rest of the world. Increasing openness and inclusivity is an important element of the operations in general. The leadership role of the University of Helsinki in inclusion is appreciated, and Finns will in fact be heavily involved in the establishment of open and inclusive operating models.
“In the project, enabling an active role for students in Una Europa is a special responsibility of the University of Helsinki. We will also manage the network’s vision and development efforts with regard to teaching and learning as well as diversity and inclusion,” Sorjonen says.
“In the autumn, we hope to have both researchers and students from different faculties join in the development of the Una Europa partnership.”
This year, the network gained three new universities as members: Leiden University, University College Dublin and the University of Zurich. Solid multidisciplinary collaboration is being conducted in all focus areas.
“The funding opens doors to Europe for our researchers, teachers and students,” Sorjonen concludes.