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17/01/2020 - 11:45

Aurora-universities unite to strengthen teaching and research for society

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The University of Iceland has joined the Aurora Alliance that is currently preparing an application to the European University Initiative under the Erasmus+ programme. The other universities in the Aurora Alliance are the Copenhagen Business School (Denmark), University of East Anglia (United Kingdom), University of Naples Federico II (Italy), University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), University of Innsbruck (Austria), Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic), Rovira i Virgili University (Spain), and Vrije University Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

The European Universities Initiative is a new and ambitious platform to promote European values, strengthen partnerships between European universities and increase the international competitiveness of European Higher Education.  The European Commission will allocate up to five million Euros within the initiative to each university network for a period of three years. The collaboration of university networks under the auspices of European University involves a fundamental change in how universities in different European countries work together.

Societal innovation strengthened and increased courses on offer with extensive collaboration 

The Aurora Universities network is already a high-trust network that revolves around collaboration of nine distinguished European universities that share commitment to advancing social good, top quality research, social responsibility, and helping communities better tackle relevant challenges. The Aurora-Alliance application focuses on societal innovation; in the spirit of the network’s main emphasis. 

"The application is meant to strengthen the Aurora universities in their endeavour to address societal changes with research and teaching," says Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland on the vision of the application. "It also centres on integration, offering education across borders as far as possible, advancing innovation in education with student participation and maximising the social impact of our research; especially concerning the challenges we face today."

The objective of the application is to increase the university's opportunities in diverse collaboration, promoting international cooperation, as well as increasing courses on offer. Jón Atli says that the application builds on the existing collaboration between the Aurora universities with special focus on supporting diversity and inclusion in education. 

A fundamental change in how universities in different countries collaborate

The application progress is excellent according to the Rector and the work is led by Vrije University Amsterdam in close collaboration with the University of Iceland. 

"The application will be submitted by the end of February and I wish to thank the students and staff at the University of Iceland for their invaluable contribution to this project," says Jón Atli. 

He says that the University of Iceland and its partners in Aurora face increased global competition which in fact applies to all universities in Europe. "This calls for increased collaboration between European universities. Numerous universities are thus finding allies and forming university networks. The European Universities Initiative supports cooperation where universities in countries across Europe work together in creating universities of the future. Such collaboration will reaffirm European values and reinforce quality and the competitiveness of European university education."

Jón Atli says that this rests on interdisciplinary collaboration, extensive cooperation and emphasis on mobility. "We will bolster the international experience of our students considerably with this project," says Jón Atli and adds that one the aim is increased number of joint degrees on all higher education levels if the application proves successful.

"The application is meant to strengthen the Aurora universities in their endeavour to address social changes with research and teaching," says Jón Atli Benediktsson, rector of the University of Iceland on the vision the application. "It also centres on integration, offering education across borders as far as possible, advancing innovation in education with student participation and maximising the social impact of our research; especially concerning the challenges we face today." IMAGE/Kristinn Ingvarsson

The University of Iceland is an international university

The University of Iceland operates in a global environment and it is thus absolutely necessary for Icelanders, who live in a small science and academic community, to ensure and strengthen international collaboration according to the Rector. 

"The University of Iceland is in key position within the Aurora network, however, we will also continue to collaborate enthusiastically within other networks and with other universities," says Jón Atli. "International collaboration offers great potential in both research and teaching. The University of Iceland has numerous cooperative agreements worldwide, which in fact enlarges the Icelandic higher education system as students can take part of their studies in exchange studies and academics collaborate in their research on a global scale. The Aurora universities intend to increase even further the scope of such collaboration as well as coordinate their operations as much as possible to attain even more success in research and teaching," 

Changes on the horizon and the future is bright 

The future of the higher education system is bright according to Jón Atli, as universities are the foundation for societal well-being: "Knowledge is the key to the future and it is the role of the University of Iceland to create and communicate knowledge. We have achieved great success here at the University of Iceland and we need to continue on the same path for the benefit of Icelandic society. The key is to be competitive internationally. The Aurora network and the global projects we are involved in help us on our journey."

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