Germany (Technical University of Darmstadt) Unite! 2.0 starts its new era in Graz

Unite! has closed its pilot phase to launch the new Erasmus + proposal for the next four years, to implement the European university of innovation, technology and engineering


From 1 to 3 November, the Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) hosted the first Unite! Steering Committee since the EU announced the decision to fund the alliance for another four years in the Erasmus+ program. The Unite! Steering Committee, made up of the Unite! Secretariat, the Key Liaison Officers from each partner university, the Work Package Leaders of the new proposal and the Students in Unite! for Representation and Empowerment (SURE!), discussed in detail the new goals and projects of this new phase.

Unite!’s proposal to be a technology and innovation driver for the advancement of a green and digital Europe was approved in July by the European Commission (EC). Over the past three years the alliance’s working groups with more than 500 active members (faculty, staff, administration and students) have deployed the pilot phase. This new phase starting November 2022, builds on the work and projects already initiated and is inspired and guided by the alliance’s Mission Statement 2030.

Since the approval of the new proposal by the European Commission the latest meetings Unite! Steering Committee have been in the locations of the universities of the new partners of the alliance: Wrocław Tech hosted the Unite! Steering Committee on 6-7 September and now in TU Graz.

“A tight agenda”, says TU Graz host and KLO Sabine Prem and adds: “As one of two new full members of the Unite! alliance we are very honoured to host this memorable committee meeting that marks the beginning of a new Unite! era. At TU Graz we look forward to be inspired and to inspire our partners when we work together on a bright future of European higher education.

Plans for the next four years

In the now granted proposal, Unite! makes explicit its will to be a model European university of innovation, technology and engineering that addresses the Sustainable Development Goals through a digital and green transition. To achieve it, the alliance will foster bottom-up community development and strengthen student participation and engagement in all its working groups.

Among the various projects that the alliance is working on, a more concrete output is to advance in the implementation of the European Degree and the development of a European Doctoral School around its focus areas: Sustainable Energy, Artificial Intelligence, Industry 4.0 or Entrepreneurship.

Work package leaders presented in TU Graz their programmes for the months ahead and a common understanding of deliverables and tasks was achieved among committee members. Dates for the student festival in Lisbon (29.06.-01.07.2023) were set as were those for the upcoming four Dialogues in Grenoble (28.2.-2.3.2023), Wroclaw (19.-21.09.2023), Graz (27.-29.02.2024) and Darmstadt (30.09.-02.10.2024. Furthermore, steering committee members discussed student involvement through SURE! and were updated on future funding for R&I for European Universities as well as possible associated partners.

In the new proposal the nine working groups, each led by one of the partner universities, will continue to build the umbrella for all these projects covering the areas of Management, Governance and Quality Assurance (TUDa); Digital Campus (TU Graz); Inclusion, Diversity and Well-being (ULisboa); Innovative Teaching and Learning (Aalto); Flexible Educational Provision (KTH); Professional Development and Training (Grenoble INP-UGA); PhD for Research, Innovation and Society (PoliTO); Open Innovation Community for Green Transition (Wroclaw Tech) and Strategic Outreach, Impact and Dissemination (UPC).


The European Universities Initiative

The European Universities Initiative was launched in 2019 to push for the establishment of a European Education Area by 2025. European Universities are transnational alliances of higher education institutions from across the EU that share a long-term strategy, promoting European values and identity. The initiative is designed to significantly strengthen student and staff mobility and to foster the quality, inclusion and competitiveness of European higher education.

In response to a first call of the Erasmus+ Programme in 2019, the first 17 alliances were selected for a 3-year pilot phase to lay the foundations for future European universities. Unite! has been among these first 17. Another 24 alliances followed in the 2nd call in 2020.

Unite!’s new funding starting end of 2022 falls into the calls of the further roll out of the European Universities Initiative. It plans to increase the number of European Universities to 60 with more than 500 universities by mid-2024, supported under Erasmus+ with an indicative budget of EUR 1.1 billion for the period 2021-2027. The aim is to develop and share a common long-term structural, sustainable and systemic cooperation on education, research and innovation, creating European inter-university campuses where students, staff and researchers from all parts of Europe can enjoy seamless mobility and create new knowledge together, across countries and disciplines.”