– Space as a central theme within the framework of a European University meets important global societal challenges, creates new jobs, contributes effectively to industrial growth and ensures EU autonomy, says Victoria Barabash, Head of the Department of Space Technology at Luleå University of Technology and one of several project leaders that worked on the application.
The initiative was initiated by the European Commission and the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Agency (EACEA). Universities in Europe were invited to form consortiums and apply to be appointed to European universities. The European University concept is a further development of the well-established Erasmus Mundus framework. The criterion for a consortium to be appointed European University are that they can present a well-thought-out and cohesive idea of how to jointly create increased opportunities for collaboration, primarily in research-based education. Research exchange and exchange of other staff may become relevant at a later stage.
In addition to Luleå University of Technology, the consortium also includes Université de Toulouse (France), which is an umbrella organization for Jean Jaurès University, Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse National Polytechnical Institute, Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace and Toulouse Business School, AGH University of Science and Technology (Poland), Heinrich-Heine-Universität Dusseldorf (Germany), and University of Luxembourg (Luxembourg).
Victoria Barabash explains that the goal is to create a European "inter-university campus". The idea is, among other things, that students should be able to tailor their study choices, however within the framework of pedagogically structured interdisciplinary educational programmes, between different partner universities and consortium members and that there should be a built-in mixed mobility at bachelor, master and doctoral level.
– The space perspective is expressed in many different ways and based on several subject areas and perspectives, such as science, technology, economics, business, social sciences, patenting and innovation, entrepreneurship, health and medicine, art and culture. We lay a common foundation for building innovative education and pioneering research at the European level, says Victoria Barabash.
The purpose of the European University is thus to create interdisciplinary knowledge, to intensify entrepreneurship and to develop skills in students that match both today's and future needs in different areas and in the subject of space and all its dimensions.
– I want to emphasize that cooperation is in no way limited to space. The project also encourages strengthening cultural collaboration within Europe. There are, for example, collaborations between participating universities' orchestras within the framework of the European University, says Jonny Johansson, Associate Professor of Electronic Systems, who together with Jonas Ekman, Professor of Electronic Systems, leads the university's participation in the collaboration.
The project is completely in line with Luleå University of Technology's internationalization strategy. The project has been granted funding for a period of three years, but there are good chances that the project will be extended.