European Universities Initiative

The aim of this initiative is to bring together a new generation of creative Europeans able to cooperate across languages, borders and disciplines to address societal challenges and skills shortages faced in Europe.

Two students smiling with the European Universities logo overlaid

What is the European Universities Initiative?

The education landscape across Europe is changing. At the 2017 Gothenburg Summit, EU leaders outlined a vision for education and culture. In its December 2017 Conclusions, the European Council called on Member States, the Council and the Commission to take forward a number of initiatives, including:

'…strengthening strategic partnerships across the EU between higher education institutions and encouraging the emergence by 2024 of some twenty 'European Universities', consisting in bottom-up networks of universities across the EU which will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European universities'.

Co-developed by higher education institutions, student organisations, Member States and the Commission, the European Universities Initiative responds to this call. Today, it is one of the flagship initiatives of the EU’s ambitions to build a European Education Area.

What is a European University?

European Universities are transnational alliances that will become the universities of the future, promoting European values and identity, and revolutionising the quality and competitiveness of European higher education. In order to achieve this major step forward, the Commission is testing different cooperation models for European Universities with two calls for proposals under the Erasmus+ programme. The alliances will:

  • include partners from all types of higher education institution and cover a broad geographic scope across Europe
  • be based upon a co-envisioned long-term strategy focussed on sustainability, excellence and European values
  • offer student-centred curricula jointly delivered across inter-university campuses, where a diverse student bodies can build their own programmes and experience mobility at all levels of study
  • adopt a challenge-based approach according to which students, academics and external partners can cooperate in inter-disciplinary teams to tackle the biggest issues facing Europe today

Results of the first call

The results of the 2019 call have been published. Out of 54 applications received, 17 European Universities involving 114 higher education institutions from 24 Member States were selected. 

This first call, together with a second launched this autumn, will test different models for the concept of European Universities and examine its potential to transform higher education. For more information, see the Commission factsheet on the Initiative and for the 17 European University alliances, as well as the press release

The European Universities Initiative will be fully rolled out and scaled up under the next Erasmus programme 2021-2027.