Aarhus University Seal

New European University Alliance: EU gives go-ahead to Circle U.

The European Commission has approved an ambitious collaboration project between AU and six other European universities. Together, they can now call themselves the 'European University Alliance'. The title comes with a grant of 5 million euros.

A unity of European universities has reached its first culmination. The so-called Circle U. alliance has been approved by the European Commission, and over the next three years, the alliance will reinforce its collaboration on education, research and innovation.

The members of Circle U. are: The Humboldt University, King’s College London, Université de Paris, the University of Belgrade, the University of Louvain, Belgium, the University of Oslo and Aarhus University. 

This makes Circle U. a true ‘European University’, which is how French President Emmanuel Macron described the initiative in 2017, when he suggested setting up an ambitious programme to consolidate the links between educational institutions across Europe. Student mobility and educational development are key, but research and innovation, for example within sustainable solutions, are also high on the agenda. 

Shaping the future together

"We've built up a strong partnership since the alliance was forged. And these past few months with the coronavirus have only confirmed, all across the world, how important it is for universities to work closely together. This has further strengthened our belief in our joint project, and obtaining the recognition and the funding to continue the course towards more integration of universities in Europe is an important milestone," says Pro-rector Berit Eika. 

Rector Brian Bech Nielsen is also very enthusiastic about the recognition from the European Commission. Like Berit Eika, he sees very interesting perspectives in Circle U.:

"This alliance is an opportunity to forge even closer collaboration between the universities, blurring the boundaries and making the integration more seamless. A major goal has been achieved at Aarhus University, because Circle U. will become an important part of AU’s strategic ambitions for internationalisation.”

With the approval as a 'European University', the institutions can take further action to reinforce collaboration across national borders. The Circle U. alliance has been working on the project since the end of 2018, and in 2019, the alliance received a grant to develop and share new knowledge about general or interdisciplinary competences (transferable skills) in study programmes.

Students at the centre

The focal point of the alliance is first of all the students, who will benefit from stronger opportunities to study abroad as well as better knowledge sharing on educational methods. 

Several AU students have already embarked on activities under the collaboration, for example by joining seminars with their new European fellow students:

"Many students have already shown great enthusiasm, and this has been hugely important for the success of the alliance so far. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank both academic and administrative staff who have invested considerable time and effort in getting this project off to a good start," says Berit Eika 

The seven universities in the Circle U. alliance represent a total of 334,000 students and 51,000 employees. Furthermore, more than 30 organisations and companies are affiliated with the alliance as external partners.