European Universities Initiative

European Universities are transnational alliances promoting European values, and working to revolutionise the quality and competitiveness of European higher education. Through the initiative, the Commission is making a key contribution to building the universities of the future.
7 November 2019
Brussels, Belgium
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Building the universities of the future

The European Commission invites you to join its event on the European Universities Initiative on 7 November 2019, from 14:00 to 18:00, at SQUARE - Brussels Convention Centre, Place du Mont Des Arts, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.

European Universities are transnational alliances promoting European values, and working to revolutionise the quality and competitiveness of European higher education. Through the initiative, the Commission is making a key contribution to building the universities of the future.

Ministers, representatives of the 17 European Universities, students and academics will explore a range of topics related to the future of higher education at the event, including:

  • the need for the next generation of students, teachers and researchers to find solutions to contemporary societal challenges
  • preparing young people for the jobs and society of the future
  • accelerating the transformation of Europe's higher education institutions to ensure their quality, inclusiveness and international competitiveness

The event will include an information session on the second call for proposals for the European Universities Initiative, due to be launched this autumn. This will be complemented by a closed morning dialogue with the selected European Universities and an informal dinner between EU ministers responsible for higher education.

Background

The event will mark nearly two years since the Gothenburg Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth of November 2017 and the European Council meeting of December 2017. At the latter, EU Heads of State and Government called on member states, the Council and the Commission to continue to work towards the creation of a European Education Area by 2025.

Since then, progress towards this vision has continued with the European Universities Initiative inspiring higher education institutions across the EU. 

Different models for cooperation are currently being tested through two calls for proposals under the Erasmus+ programme.

Programme

13:00 - 14:00 | Registration

14:00 - 14:15 | Welcome

  • Themis Christophidou - Director-General, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), European Commission.

15:30 - 16:00 | Coffee break

16:00 - 16:15 | Introduction to the panel discussions

  • European Commissioner responsible for higher education.

17:45 - 18:00 | Closing remarks by Hanna Kosonen, Finnish Minister for Science and Culture

Speakers

Blaženka Divjak

Minister of Science and Education, Croatia.

Biography
Hanna Kosonen

Minister of Science and Culture, Finland.

Biography
Manuel Heitor

Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal.

Biography
Astrid Soderbergh Widding

President, Stockholm University, CIVIS alliance, representing the CIVIS European University

Biography
Costas Georgiades

Student, Maastricht University, representing the YUFE European University

Biography
Daniela Trani

Managing Director of the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE)

Biography
Eugenijus Valatka

Rector of Kaunas University of Technology, representing the ECIU European University

Biography
Gohar Hovhannisyan

Vice-President, European Students’ Union (ESU).

Biography
Jean Chambaz

President of Sorbonne, representing the 4EU+ European University

Biography
Joan Elias

Rector, University of Barcelona, CHARM-EU European University.

Biography
José A. Muñoz-Cueto

Rector’s Delegate University of Cádiz & Coordinator of the SEA-EU European University

Biography
Kostis Giannidis

President of the Erasmus Student Network

Biography
Michael Murphy

President of the European University Association (EUA)

Biography
Petra Schaper Rinkel

Vice-Rector for Digitalisation, University of Graz, representing the ARQUS European University

Biography
Sophie Beernaerts

Head of Department, Erasmus+ and EU Aid Volunteers, EACEA.

Biography
Stéphane Lauwick

President of EURASHE

Biography
Themis Christophidou

Director-General, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), European Commission.

Biography
Tiziana D'Acchille

Director of the Academy of Fine Arts of Roma, representing the EU4ART European University

Biography
Vanessa Debiais-Sainton

Head of Unit B1 - Higher education policies and programmes, DG EAC.

Biography
Wolf-Dieter Lukas

State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany.

Biography

Blaženka Divjak

Minister of Science and Education, Croatia.

Biography

Professor Dr. Blaženka Divjak is the Croatian Minister of Science and Education appointed in July 2017. In this role, she has been leading reform processes in four major areas: general education curricula, vocational education and training, research excellence, and enhancing the relevance of higher education. 

Blaženka holds a PhD in Mathematics and is a professor at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Organization and Informatics. She has also served as Vice-Rector for students and study programmes at the university, and was twice elected the faculty’s Vice-Dean for scientific work and international cooperation. Blaženka has acted as a coordinator and researcher for various national and international projects and networks.

Her expertise include: e-learning, the assessment of learning outcomes and learning analytics, quality culture and strategic decision-making in higher education, the popularisation of science, and the Bologna process. 

Hanna Kosonen

Minister of Science and Culture, Finland.

Biography

Hanna Kosonen was appointed as Finnish Minister of Science and Culture in August 2019. She has served as a Member of Parliament since 2015. During her previous term, Hanna served as First Vice-Chairman of the Center Party parliamentary group, a member of the Finnish delegation to the Nordic Council, and of the Education and Culture Committee. She has also served as a member of Savonlinna City Council since 2017.

Hanna has worked for 10 years in the private sector in the field of communications, culture production and creative industry. She holds a master's degree in Art History from the University of Jyväskylä. She is also a world champion in ski orienteering.

Manuel Heitor

Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal.

Biography

Manuel Heitor has held the role of Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education since November 2015. From March 2005 to June 2011, he served as Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Higher Education.  

Manuel is a professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), the University of Lisbon engineering school and was founder and director of the IST's Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research. The latter was named one of the 'Top 50 Global Centres of Research on Management of Technology' by the International Association for the Management of Technology (IAMOT) in 2005. 

Manuel earned a PhD at Imperial College, London, in combustion research and did post-doctoral training at the University of California San Diego, followed by an academic career at the IST. From 2011 to 2012, he was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard. Manuel served as Deputy-President of IST from 1993 to1998 and, since the mid 1990's, has been involved in several initiatives regarding the study of science, technology and innovation policies, including higher education and management.

 

Astrid Soderbergh Widding

President, Stockholm University, CIVIS alliance, representing the CIVIS European University

Biography

Astrid has been President of Stockholm University since 2013. She is a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science and of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, Chair of the Association of Swedish Higher Education institutions and of the Swedish BIBSAM consortium, and a member of the board of Aarhus University, Denmark.

In 2006, Astrid was responsible for the establishment of the Centre for Fashion Studies and, in 2009, she initiated the open access Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, for which she was Editor-in-Chief from 2009 to 2012. Astrid has a background in Cinema Studies from Stockholm University, where she obtained her PhD in 1992. She was appointed Professor in Cinema Studies in 2000 and has held positions as Head of Department, Deputy Dean and Deputy President.

Costas Georgiades

Student, Maastricht University, representing the YUFE European University

Biography

Costas Georgiades is currently pursuing his masters in Globalisation and Law at Maastricht University after completing his LL.B. in European Law at the same university. Aside from his studies he has been active in the field of youth participation in Europe in which he worked on many projects under Erasmus+ but also previously through Youth in Action.

He has a World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) learner for 2018 and served as a board member of the Youth Peace Ambassadors Network. During the peak of the migration crisis, Costas worked extensively on the island of Lesvos as a sea rescuer.

In recognition for his activism, he was among the 200 young leaders invited by the Obama Foundation to participate in the European Townhall with president Obama.

Daniela Trani

Managing Director of the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE)

Biography

From 2014 to 2019, Daniela worked as Senior Advisor for International Research Policy at the department of Academic Affairs of Maastricht University. In this position, she combined her international academic and policy background to advise and support the Executive Board on strategic partnerships with other higher education institutions as well as research organisations in Europe and worldwide.

She holds an MSc degree in Physics (cum laude, 2003) from the University of Naples Federico II, Italy, and a PhD in Thoracic Oncology and Applied Biotechnology (2007) from the Second University of Naples, Italy. She worked as NASA/NSBRI postdoctoral fellow in the field of space radiation biology at Georgetown University (2008-2011) and then as senior researcher at the Department of Radiotherapy at Maastricht University (2011-2014).

Eugenijus Valatka

Rector of Kaunas University of Technology, representing the ECIU European University

Biography

Professor Eugenijus Valatka is Rector of Kaunas University of Technology and Vice-president of Lithuanian University Rectors' Conference. He holds a BSc in Engineering (1993), MSc in Environmental Engineering (1996) and PhD in Chemical Engineering (2000). He worked as Lecturer (2000–2002), Associate Professor (2002–2012), Professor (2012–date), Vice dean (2006–2011) and Dean (2011–2018) in the Faculty of Chemical Technology, Kaunas University of Technology.

His research is in the areas of photoelectrochemistry, photocatalysis and electrochemical energy storage using metal oxides (co-author of more than 70 scientific publications). His project activity: various contracts with industrial partners, participation in scientific research (COST, Lithuanian State Science and Studies Foundation) and education projects (development of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) the national level, development of study cycle descriptors and structure of study fields’ descriptors). He was a supervisor of 5 PhD students who have graduated.

The professor is a Member of the International Society of Electrochemistry, Lithuanian Society of Chemistry, Lithuania-Germany Forum, Lithuanian Industrialist Confederation and Association of Lithuanian Chemical Industry Enterprises. He serves as President of Association Santaka Valley (Integrated Science, Studies and Business center) which unites and integrates activities of the largest research, technology and education institutions of Kaunas. He speaks Lithuanian (native), English, French, Russian.

Gohar Hovhannisyan

Vice-President, European Students’ Union (ESU).

Biography

Gohar Hovhannisyan is the current Vice-President of the European Students’ Union (ESU). She has a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a master’s in Insurance Markets. Within the ESU, her main focus is on quality higher education with an emphasis on quality assurance, learning and teaching, and meaningful student participation in higher education governance.

Gohar has extensive experience in student representation, starting at he local level as a member of the governing board of the Armenian State University of Economics and, later, as International Officer at the national student union of Armenia. As a representative of the ESU, Gohar currently serves as an Executive Board member of the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) and represents the organisation at the Learning and Teaching Advisory group of the Bologna Follow-up Group (BFUG).

Jean Chambaz

President of Sorbonne, representing the 4EU+ European University

Biography

Jean Chambaz is Professor of cell biology at the faculty of medicine, and was President of the Pierre and Marie Curie University from March 2012 to December 2017. He also served as Vice President of research and then Vice President of mean and resources.

He has also been chair of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) since 2018. From 2014-18 he was president of the coordination of the French intensive research universities (CURIF). Finally, from 2008-11 he chaired the Council for Doctoral Education of the European University Association (EUA) and from 2015-18 has been a board member of the EUA.

Joan Elias

Rector, University of Barcelona, CHARM-EU European University.

Biography

Joan Elias is a professor of Mathematics at the University of Barcelona's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. During his academic career, he has combined lecturing with research in the field of commutative algebra and management activities.

Elias has led a number of research projects and held senior positions in both national and international networks and institutions. These include his former position as Editor-in-Chief of the Real Sociedad Matemática Española (Royal Spanish Mathematical Society - RSME) and as a member of the publications committee of the European Mathematical Society.

In the area of management, Joan Elias was Head of Studies and then Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics of the University of Barcelona (1992–1993 and 1996–2002, respectively), General Secretary of the Consell Interuniversitari de Catalunya (Interuniversity Council of Catalonia, CIC) (2006) and finally Vice-Rector of Academic Staff (2008–2010).

José A. Muñoz-Cueto

Rector’s Delegate University of Cádiz & Coordinator of the SEA-EU European University

Biography

José A. Muñoz-Cueto is a professor of Zoology at the Department of Biology of the University of Cádiz. From 2016-2017, he was a Visiting Staff at University College London. He has focused his research in the field of fish neuroanatomy, fish neuroendocrinology and fish chronobiology, leading more than twenty competitive regional, national and European projects that have resulted in around 150 scientific publications.  

José has also been involved in management activities at the University of Cádiz as General Coordinator of the Marine International Campus of Excellence (CEIMAR, 2011-2013), as well as at the Spanish National Research System as member of the National Agency for Evaluation and Forecasting (ANEP) of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (2006-2010).

Kostis Giannidis

President of the Erasmus Student Network

Biography

Kostis Giannidis is the President of the Erasmus Student Network, the leading student organisation in the field of academic mobility, representing more than 300,000 international students around Europe annually.

Before he joined ESN he had the chance to take part in the Erasmus+ programme several times, where he experienced the transformative power of studying abroad. Previously, he worked as a trainee in the European Commission in the field of Erasmus+ school education, VET and Adult Learning, and he has great expertise with the Erasmus+ Programme.

As the president of the Erasmus Student Network, Kostis is advocating for more accessible and quality mobility for students around Europe and beyond.

Michael Murphy

President of the European University Association (EUA)

Biography

A past President of University College Cork, Ireland (2007-17), he has been active in many academic organisations in Europe and the United States. Murphy has also served as Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Chair of the Health Research Board of Ireland, Chair of the Irish Universities Association and Chair of the Permanent Working Group (PWG) of European Hospital Doctors.

He graduated in Medicine from University College Cork in 1973. Following postgraduate medical training in Dublin and in Clinical Pharmacology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London, he received his doctorate from the National University of Ireland in 1984. Dr. Murphy spent a decade on the Faculties of Pharmacology, Physiology and Medicine at The University of Chicago before returning to Cork as Professor of Clinical Pharmacology. An expert on drug therapy for cardiovascular disease, he has led several large international clinical trials of interventions to reduce cardiovascular mortality.

Petra Schaper Rinkel

Vice-Rector for Digitalisation, University of Graz, representing the ARQUS European University

Biography

Petra Schaper Rinkel has been Vice-Rector for Digitalisation at the University of Graz since 1 October 2019, where she is also Professor of Science and Technology Studies. From 2009 to 2019, she has been at the AIT - Austrian Institute of Technology, where she has mainly been responsible for EU projects on science, technology and innovation policy and foresight projects. At the AIT she was also responsible for establishing Foresight and Technology Assessment at the Austrian Parliament.

She has a background in Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin, where she obtained her PhD in 2002.

Sophie Beernaerts

Head of Department, Erasmus+ and EU Aid Volunteers, EACEA.

Biography

Sophie Beernaerts is Head of the Department working on Erasmus+ and EU Aid Volunteers at the European Commission's Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). 

Before this, she was responsible for the coordination of the Erasmus+ programme, the management of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) providing grants to researchers at all stages of their careers, and support for the development of school education policy in EU Member states at the European Commission.

Sophie is a graduate of Solvay Business School and holds a postgraduate degree in European economics from the University of Brussels. 

Stéphane Lauwick

President of EURASHE

Biography

Stéphane Lauwick has been member of the EURASHE Board since 2012 and was elected President of EURASHE in 2015 for a mandate of 2 years.

Stéphane Lauwick is a Vice-President of ADIUT, the French Association of Directors of University Institutes of Technology. He is the former director of the Continuing Education Centre and Apprentice Training Centre of the University of Le Havre. In that capacity, he actively promoted lifelong learning and developed the recognition of prior learning (RPL) process both within the University and at international level. He has worked with EUCEN on these issues and has advised on the establishment of the RPL process for the University of Mauritius and the World Customs Organisation.

He joined the University of Le Havre (France) in 1993 as a professeur agrégé. After heading the Electrical Engineering Department of the University Institute of Technology (IUT) of that university, he is now the director of the Institute, an institution that enrols some 2500 students and delivers 26 awards.

Themis Christophidou

Director-General, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), European Commission.

Biography

Themis Christophidou has been the Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture at the European Commission since March 2018. She is a civil engineer with 33 years of experience in private and public sector management.

Themis joined the European Commission in 2001 after having worked in the private sector for 15 years. Having held various positions in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, she worked as the Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Androulla Vassiliou, the former Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Youth and Sport, from 2010 until 2011.

From 2011 to 2014, Themis was the Head of the Cabinet of Maria Damanaki, the former Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and from 2014 to 2018, she held the role of the Head of the Cabinet of Christos Stylianides, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.


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Tiziana D'Acchille

Director of the Academy of Fine Arts of Roma, representing the EU4ART European University

Biography

Tiziana D'Acchille is an Art Historian and a full professor of Artistic Anatomy. She is the author of many essays and papers about modern and contemporary art. She has been curator of many exhibitions of contemporary art, nationally and internationally, and is the founder of the Fashion studies courses in the Academy of Roma and Director of the Academy of Fine Arts of Roma. Tiziana is also a member of the international committees for the promotion of the art and an expert system evaluator of the national Agency for Artistic Higher Education.

Vanessa Debiais-Sainton

Head of Unit B1 - Higher education policies and programmes, DG EAC.

Biography

Vanessa Debiais-Sainton is Head of Unit B1, responsible for higher education policies and programmes at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC).

The unit is the lead service for European policies on the reform and modernisation of higher education, the new European Universities initiative, the automatic mutual recognition of higher education qualifications, the creation of an EU student card, and the higher education strand of Erasmus+.

Vanessa previously worked at the Commission's Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD). Before joining the Commission in 2006, Vanessa spent eight years working for petroleum and chemical companies.

Wolf-Dieter Lukas

State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany.

Biography

Wolf-Dieter Lukas has been State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since September 2019. He holds a PhD in Physics from the Technische Universität Darmstadt, is an honorary professor at the Technische Universität Berlin and first joined the BMBF in 1988.

Prior to his appointment as State Secretary, Wolf-Dieter was Director-General for Research for Digitalization and Innovation for 14 years, and Deputy Director-General for Information and Communication. He has also held the role of Head of the Directorate for Information and Communication Technology Basic Policy Issues until 2001.

Between 1996 and 1998, Wolf-Dieter was personal assistant to State Secretaries, Helmut Stahl and Gebhard Ziller. After completing his studies, he originally worked as a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart.

Practical information

Date

7 November 2019

Location

Mont Des Arts, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Contact

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