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The UP University consortium, of which UVic-UCC is a member, receives the European Universities Seal of Excellence

Euroepan consortium UP-University's members, in UVic-UCC in may 2023

The UP University consortium, of which UVic-UCC is a member, receives the European Universities Seal of Excellence

The "UP University - Responsible living for the next generations" consortium, of which the University of Vic - Universitat Central de Catalunya (UVic-UCC) is a member and which contains six other European universities, has recently received the Seal of Excellence from the European Universities initiative. As a result, UVic-UCC has been recognised as a European Campus by the European Commission within the framework of the European Universities Erasmus+ project. Receiving this seal is recognition of the value of the work done in recent years, and it opens the way to receiving financial support from other EU, national or regional sources.  

The other members of the consortium in addition to UVic-UCC are Artevelde University of Applied Sciences (Ghent, Belgium), HAN University of Applied Sciences (Arnhem/Nijmegen, Holland), IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems (Krems-an-der-Donau, Austria), Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Oulu, Finland), FH Münster University of Applied Sciences (Münster, Germany) and Vasile Alecsandri University of Bacau (Bacau, Romania). United by their dedication to an applied approach to research and higher education, the members of UP-University complement each other in their educational programmes and specialist fields. 

Recognition to keep working  

The Seal of Excellence is a quality seal which is awarded by the European Commission for proposals that meet the standards set out by the specific EU programme. This seal will enable all the universities of the UP University consortium to continue working towards the progress of each region, but with a European perspective, and working together. "Participation in the European Universities programme is one of UVic-UCC's strategic projects that helps us position our University in Spain and internationally," explains Josep Bau, the vice-rector for International Relations at UVic-UCC. He says that "receiving this Seal of Excellence is a very important step that shows us that what we have to offer is of high quality and is encouragement to improve it with a view to the next call, next year." 

The decision to establish the consortium was taken at the most recent meeting of rectors and working teams which took place in Vic in May. "The measures that will be implemented are aimed above all at facilitating transnational mobility, and connecting working teams from different areas in order to create dynamics for collaboration in the academic, research and service fields," says Bau. 

Meanwhile, work has begun on applications for joint projects that will position the UP-University alliance as a key player in the international arena, with the combined potential of expertise of all its members. "In the same way that the federation with Manresa in 2014 opened up a whole new potential for us as an institution, I am convinced that being part of an international consortium committed to a European Campus project like this one places us on a completely new and frankly stimulating level," says the vice-rector for International Relations of UVic-UCC. 

The next steps 

The challenge for the UP-University consortium in general and for UVic-UCC in particular in both the present and the future is to work to maintain this Seal of Excellence, and in a future call, to obtain funding from the EU or from other national or regional sources to implement all the actions planned in the project. The European Commission is scheduled to publish a final call for the European Universities Initiative in the autumn of 2023, in order to achieve the objective of the European strategy for funding sixty consortia by mid-2024. 

In the long term, the alliances in the European Universities scheme are anticipated to bring together increasing numbers of faculties, departments, staff and students. The aim is for the universities involved to offer more innovative pedagogies based on transdisciplinary approaches and challenges, and to implement more joint programmes in order to be even more inclusive and to be committed to their communities. 

The firm commitment of each member of the UP-University consortium, together with the recognition conferred by the "Seal of Excellence" highlights the excellent work done to move forward within the framework of the next call, and for the progress of each region, working together and with a European perspective. 

Seven universities that make up a multicampus 

The seven regional universities that make up the UP-University consortium coordinated by Artevelde University of Applied Sciences (Ghent, Belgium) have been working to become a European University and establishing a solid interregional framework for more than two years, thereby increasing regional opportunities for innovation and growth. These universities aim to become an invaluable asset in spreading economic strength and individual well-being more equitably across Europe. As they are a multi-campus containing seven universities, they will be able to access funding and opportunities for collaboration that would otherwise be inaccessible to each partner acting on its own.  

One of the major challenges for all the members of UP-University is to develop a responsible model for the next generation, linking the efforts of the 9,800 members of teaching and research staff and administrative and services staff, and the 100,000 students at the member universities. This mission will be addressed by co-creating innovative solutions for high-priority regional challenges, and providing education aimed at creating solutions for the future. The main tools will be joint academic programmes, research and knowledge transfer, and in particular, mobility for students, teaching and research staff and administrative and services staff. 

The European Universities: transnational alliances 

The European Universities are transnational alliances of higher education institutions from across the EU that come together in order to benefit students, teachers and society. They receive financial support from the Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programmes, and enhance the quality, inclusion, digitalisation and appeal of European higher education. Fifty funded alliances made up of around 430 higher education institutions from more than 30 countries have been set up since the first call for the European Universities initiative. The European Union aims to achieve 60 alliances of European Universities by 2024, containing more than 500 higher education institutions, with a total of 1.1 billion Euros from the Erasmus+ Programme. The goal of the UP-University Consortium is to become a European Universities alliance in the next call. 

This initiative will help universities to move beyond the existing models of cooperation in higher education. European Universities have to act as models of good practice in order to gradually increase the quality, international competitiveness and appeal of European higher education.

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