The University of Helsinki joins the UNA Europa alliance: “Together, we are building the European university of the future”

UNA Europa is one of 17 networks funded by the European Union to strengthen the European university sector. Its aim is to lay the foundations for the European university of the future.

On 4 October, the University of Helsinki joined the UNA Europa alliance.

“This is a really significant step for the University of Helsinki. We are building an entirely new kind of strategic partnership with our European partners. The UNA Europa’s four focus areas Data Science & AI; Cultural Heritage; European Studies; and Sustainability will bring complementarity and further boost the grand challenges highlighted in our strategic plan. In essence, this increases our impact in solving societal challenges and increases our chances of attracting competitive funding,” says Vice-Rector Hanna Snellman, who is responsible for the UNA Europa alliance at the University.

In addition to the University of Helsinki, the UNA Europa alliance partners include Freie Universität Berlin, Alma mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, the University of Edinburgh, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie, KU Leuven, Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

“Together, we are building the European university of the future with our partners,” notes Snellman.

“The University of Helsinki is a committed Nordic partner that brings a new and strong Nordic and Arctic dimension to UNA Europa’s diverse research, educational, linguistic and cultural portfolio. Bringing complementary strengths to the UNA Europa four focus areas, it makes us even better equipped to address the challenges of the future,” says Professor Alessandra Scagliarini, Vice-rector at Alma mater Studiorum Università di Bologna and Chair of the UNA Europa Board of Directors.  

New educational offerings, opportunities in research collaboration

One of the guiding principles of the alliance is to provide the staff and students of the partner universities with new opportunities for study, mobility and work.

“What this means in concrete terms is, among other things, an increase in the range of virtual learning opportunities and the diversification of our educational offerings. And our University has a lot to contribute, for example, to indigenous studies and to teaching in many disciplines in the form of MOOCs,” Vice-Rector Snellman states.

“The University of Helsinki is world-renowned for its research in university pedagogy and has significant hubs of creativity for blended and online learning, thereby brining innovative insights and tools into UNA Europa,” adds Emily Palmer, Secretary-General of UNA Europa.

By joining the UNA Europa alliance, the University of Helsinki will have the opportunity to take part in the 1EUROPE project from its early stages; the project’s aim is to create new concepts for international education, learning and research.

“1EUROPE will foster a true international education to all University of Helsinki students via physical mobility, blended and digital learning, covering all geographical regions and many linguistic corners of the continent and will allow the University of Helsinki to test new innovative formats for international education,” notes Professor Peter Lievens, Vice-rector at KU Leuven and Coordinator of the 1EUROPE project.

“We will now be able to have a say in the future of the entire European university sector. The UNA Europa Alliance will also provide new opportunities for applying for research funding from the EU,” says Vice-Rector Snellman.

The University of Helsinki is currently in the process of strengthening its strategic partnerships, and the UNA Europa alliance makes it possible for the University to collaborate with some of the most established universities in Europe.

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About the UNA Europa Alliance and 1EUROPE project

Seven leading and now rewarded research universities (Freie Universität Berlin, Alma mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, the University of Edinburgh, Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie, KU Leuven, Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) joined forces in 2018 to create UNA Europa, a unique alliance aiming to lay strong foundations for the European university of the future. The University of Helsinki joined the alliance in October 2019.

The partners are committed to developing in-depth cooperation and long-term integration between them, focusing on excellent and innovative research and teaching, as well as boosting international opportunities for students and staff. Aiming to go beyond traditional geographical and disciplinary boundaries, the collaboration will result in a ‘multi-campus’ university model, ensuring that graduates and researchers are equipped to shape the future.

1EUROPE is the three-year pilot project funded under the Erasmus+ Pilot Call for European Universities, which will be formally launched in December 2019. UNA Europa is among the first 17 university alliances to receive this prestigious funding. The European Universities action funds bottom-up networks of universities to establish a long-term joint strategy for education, a European inter-university campus and knowledge-creating teams address societal challenges.

Following one year of intensive collaboration between the UNA Europa partners, the UNA Europa association (vzw) was formally established in Brussels. The goals of the UNA Europa association are to ensure the success and sustainability of the alliance and to actively contribute to the development of the European Higher Education and Research Areas.