EUTOPIA takes ‘major step to integration’ with student exchange deal

The six founding members of the EU-funded group welcomed four new member universities and signed a student mobility agreement that will “break the mould of traditional student exchanges”

A group of five European universities and the University of Warwick have signed a mobility agreement, described by the signatories as “an important step towards integration”.

The six founding members of the EUTOPIA European Alliance signed a five-year deal that provides for 100 undergraduate students from each university to spend periods at other EUTOPIA members every year. The agreement also starts the groundwork for other forms of mobility, such as short-term stays, to increase travel and study opportunities.

The group general secretary, Nikki Muckle, said the deal “will fill the gap we have identified between what is currently possible in the Erasmus+ mobility programmes and the European Universities Initiative (EUI)”.

The EUTOPIA general secretary said the deal would “serve to break the mould of traditional student exchanges, both in number and in form, as we move from agreements between faculties to agreements between universities as a whole”.

EUTOPIA is one of the projects funded by the EUI, overseen by the European Commission, which aims to build a European Higher Education Area.

Warwick was joined by Pompeu Fabra University, CY Cergy Paris University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Gothenburg, and Univerza v Ljubljani in signing the mobility agreement. Ten staff members from each university can train or complete teaching internships at one of the other universities every year.

EUTOPIA takes 'major step to integration' with student exchange deal Stuart Croft
Prof Stuart Croft, vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick, signs the deal at the network conference in Barcelona this November.

Professor Stuart Croft, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick, said his institution is “proudly European at its heart” and would welcome “freedom of movement” within the alliance.

“We established EUTOPIA to forge unique opportunities for our students and staff to travel, study, and work across the continent, beyond existing frameworks, physically and virtually.

“This week’s commitment to increasing mobility demonstrates that we are advancing our pioneering vision of a more connected, inclusive higher education throughout Europe — based on friendship and freedom of movement.”

The EUTOPIA network has recently welcomed its tenth member: this November, Babeș-Bolyai University joined three September inductees, Ca Foscari of Venice, the Dresden University of Technology and NOVA University Lisbon, in the pan-European group.

Eva Wiberg, the vice-chancellor of the University of Gothenburg and EUTOPIA chair, welcomed the Romanian university, saying it was “significant for us to expand the alliance towards eastern Europe, thus integrating a much wider universe of Europe’s characteristic diversity and its cultures”.

The “meta-university” unites 300,000 students, 45,000 professors and administrators, and 1,000 research groups. Eutopia is “working together to build a new academic model, reflecting an open and united Europe that respects its citizens and the environment”, the network said.

Read more: Warwick University partners in EU-funded knowledge exchange project

Related comment: ‘Warwick is, and has been since its foundation, a European university’ – Prof Stuart Croft

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