Editor's note

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 14.10.2019, 02:00

Education and science in the Baltics’ future

Eugene Eteris, European Studies Faculty, RSU, BC International Editor, Copenhagen, 25.03.2019.Print version

Education and research policies in the Baltic States are subject to fast changes due to globalisation and digitalisation. Innovative pressures are challenging national budgets, trans-national alliances and states’ potentials in “smart specialisation”.

At the end of 207, the EU leaders formulated a new vision of the European cooperation in education, research and, generally, in science. During last two years, new initiatives are aimed at strengthening the EU-wide strategic partnerships among universities: one of the most spectacular has been the idea of creating so-called “European universities” to deal with the global educational challenges and research competitiveness. These initiatives suggest that European-wide research and education funding will proceed through twenty “EU universities network” based on about six education-researchers’ consortiums.   

“Smart growth” idea in universities’ education and research

In modern EU’s transition to “smart growth”, there is a vital triangle uniting the European education, research and innovation spheres. To materialize “the triangle”, a first step is the creation of European “education centers or consortiums” of 20 European Universities in the coming 5 years. The consortiums will enable students to obtain knowledge (and degrees) combining studies in several EU countries, the process which is going to contribute to increasing international competitiveness of the existing universities and the EU’s ambitious plan of creating a European Education Area. There are presently two coordinating directions among the EU states: a) through the Erasmus+ programs in the EACEA, see more in: https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus-plus/selection-results/knowledge-alliances-2018_en; and

b) through the DG EAC in improving the quality and efficiency of education and training, as well as in enhancing creativity and innovation (including entrepreneurship) at all levels of education and training, see more in: https://ec.europa.eu/info/topics/education-and-training_en


Although the higher education in the Lisbon Treaty -in principle- has been the domain of the nation states, the research and innovation activities are within a shared competence involving efforts from both the EU institution and the member states.

Testing the EU-wide education and cooperation models

The EU-educational network is regarded as the “trans-national alliances” of several European universities by promoting quality and competitiveness of European higher education. The European Commission intends first to test “different cooperation models” based on the following principles:

  • an alliance of partners from all types of higher education institution and states;  
  • a cooperative long-term strategy focused on sustainability and circular economy;
  • student-centered curricula developed jointly by the inter-university cooperation; and
  • a comprehensive approach with active students, academics and researchers’ cooperation in cross-disciplinary teams to tackle the biggest European states’ issues.   


Thus, the “cooperative models” idea has another aspect, i.e. to streamline the European research-innovation-investment alliances across languages, borders and scientific disciplines, to address modern European socio-economic challenges.

On European university cooperation initiative in:


Financing the initiative

About € 60 mln of European funding is already available to twelve experimental models to test the concept and its transformative potential for the universities’ activities in the mentioned “alliances” during 2019. Applications are now open through the 2019 Erasmus+ call; more information on how to apply is on the EACEA’s website:



The European university cooperation initiative does not define a specific budget, but suggests that to reach the objectives each network should get about €5-6 mln over five years, i.e. at least €100 mln in total. It suggested a pilot project to start at the end of 2018, with the aim of strengthening the ‘triangleof innovation, research and education in Europe, and to encourage more European integration in higher education and research (the networks is also opened to the UK, US or other non-EU universities). More in:  



The challenges addressed in the ECIU are also related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and will be worked out in international cross-scientific teams with participants from academic communities in the member states, other interested bodies and students’ councils.

Specific network is organized by the Charm European University in January 2019(so-called, Charm-EU), which will focus –among other issues - on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and includes universities in five EU states: Trinity College Dublin, University of Barcelona, Utrecht University, University of Montpellier and Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. More in: https://www.uu.nl/en/news/launch-of-charm-eu-a-new-university-alliance-focusing-on-interdisciplinary-challenge-based-education


In the first stage, the EU funding enables 12 of the 54 networks to be selected with the Commission’s idea for “a shared, integrated, long-term joint strategy for education with links, when possible, to research and innovation to society”. The first pilot European Universities project will test different “innovative and structural models” for implementing and achieving long-term visions.   

Source: https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20190307070330629  

Linking higher education with research and innovation

The EU-university’s proposal addresses a long-term vision of linking higher education to research and innovation and to develop “new innovative structural models” that could work towards added European value, notably through its trans-nationality. European research dimension consists of several European universities, which would “enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of universities”.

In this way, the European Consortium of Innovative Universities, ECIU is going to “challenge the conventional thinking” including existing activities by the European University Foundation (EUF) and the University of the Greater Region, UniGR (see below), to name a few.

The European Consortium of Innovative Universities has had already 13 partner-universities.

See more: - on consortium of 13 universities in: https://www.eciu.org/ (from the Baltic States the Kaunas University of Technology is participating); - on European university foundation in: https://eurep.auth.gr/en/networks/campus_europae (Latvian University participates in the EUF network).  


There is another ECIU’s group uniting universities in four EU states: the “University of the Greater Region, UniGR”, which offers an opportunity to study and conduct research in 3 languages, in 5 sub-regions and in 6 universities. The Greater Region covers Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the French region of Lorraine and the Belgian Wallonia with its French and German-speaking communities. More in: https://wwwen.uni.lu/international/university_of_the_greater_region_unigr

 The activity of the Guild of European research-intensive universities should be specifically mentioned: it was founded in 2016 and comprising presently nineteen Europe’s most distinguished research-intensive universities in fourteen countries (from the Baltic States, Estonian Tarty University is participating in the Guild). The Guild is dedicated to enhancing the voice of academic institutions, their researchers and their students. The Guild is committed to the pursuit of excellence, the importance of truth-seeking and trust-building as the foundation of public life, and the creation of new knowledge for the benefit of society, culture, and economic growth. See more in: https://www.the-guild.eu/about/




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