UNIVIE celebrates: European Commission awards new funding for European University Alliance Circle U

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With a new grant, Circle U. will continue building the ’university of tomo
With a new grant, Circle U. will continue building the ’university of tomorrow’. (© Circle U.)

With the selection of "Circle U. 2030", a new, four-year project funded under the Erasmus+ 2023 call for European Universities, the achievements, efforts and ambition of Circle U. have been acknowledged. With a €12.8m grant , Circle U. will continue building the "university of tomorrow". The University of Vienna, who joined Circle U. in early 2022, is now looking forward to "new ways of collaboration in education and research as well as boost internationalisation in these fields", Rector Schütze says.

The European University Alliance "Circle U." is an initiative of nine research-intensive universities from across Europe: the University of Vienna, Aarhus University, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Université Paris Cité, University of Belgrade, UCLouvain, University of Oslo, University of Pisa, and King’s College London. Circle U. is one of 44 university alliances, which have been founded in recent years as part of the European Union’s flagship "European Universities Initiative ". On 3 July 2023, the European Commission announced the approval of the "Circle U. 2030" project, which will allow the University of Vienna - together with the University of Pisa - to benefit from European funding and enhance its engagement in the alliance.

"We are delighted about the European Commission’s announcement to support the Circle U. European University Alliance for another four years with 12.8 million euros", says Sebastian Schütze, Rector of the University of Vienna: "After joining Circle U. in early 2022, halfway through the pilot project, UNIVIE is now looking forward to taking the next steps towards developing an accessible and inclusive European university that offers exciting opportunities to our entire academic community."

Circle U. 2030: The main goals
Building on the success of the alliance’s pilot projects (Circle U., ERIA and InnovEd4TS), Circle U. will continue developing, offering and supporting outstanding education, research and innovation to contribute to more sustainable, democratic and healthier societies.

With the new funding, the Alliance will consolidate and further develop its joint ecosystem. An Open Campus will become a single entry point for all educational opportunities in Circle U. The three already established Knowledge Hubs on Climate, Democracy and Global Health will be expanded by a fourth one tackling a new theme. Four collaborative platforms will enable the Circle U. universities, their communities and associated partners to foster educational innovation, boost multilingualism, support early-career researchers and empower student entrepreneurs. The backbone of Circle U., the Academic Chair programme, will be expanded with a Fellow programme, ensuring strong, sustainable and concrete connections between academics, researchers, students as well as associated and global partners.

Flexible learning opportunities for half a million students and other learners
Whilst continuously testing out new concepts in higher education and research cooperation, Circle U. will scale up and offer a significantly increased range of flexible learning opportunities for half a million students and other learners: summer and winter schools, public conversations and lectures, open courses, challenge-based learning activities, language and intercultural skills modules, joint courses and programmes.

Becoming the university of tomorrow With the University of Vienna and the University of Pisa now formally project partners, Circle U. and its nine partner universities share the dedication, motivation and resources to maximize the impact of their joint action. With universities from European countries within and outside the European Union, the Alliance is contributing to shaping a multifaceted identity rooted in shared European democratic values.

Bjørn Stensaker, Vice-rector at the University of Oslo and coordinator of the "CU2030" project, shares his enthusiasm: "The selection of this new project is firstly an acknowledgment of the work accomplished by our nine universities and our communities since 2020. In the pilot phase, we have established a solid ground for a unique cooperation, based on mutual trust, shared dedication and continuous dialogue. And we are actually shaping the future of our universities. In the next four years, we will strengthen our shared ecosystem, multiply the opportunities and make Circle U. a reality for our students, staff and partners."

Vincent Blondel, Rector of UCLouvain and President of Circle U., continues: "Circle U. partners are in this for the long run and we are committed to continue these transformational processes long after the funding periods end. As we learn from our experiences and scale up, we will have more impact and truly become the university of tomorrow."

Sebastian Schütze, Rector of the University of Vienna, concludes: "The Circle U. 2030 project is the result of our shared vision and the strong collaboration of our nine institutions and communities of students and staff. The University of Vienna sees an enormous innovative potential in the alliance that will open up new ways of collaboration in education and research as well as boost internationalisation in these fields."

Some key figures about Circle U. since its launch in 2020

  • 49 academic chairs appointed to drive the academic and research actions of Circle U.
  • 3 Knowledge Hubs as interdisciplinary spaces for academics, researchers, students and partners to co-develop learning, teaching and research activities on Circle U.’s priority themes - climate, democracy and global health
  • 1 Female Founder Network to support female student-led entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Around 250 students and PhD candidates will participate in 5 summer schools organised in 2023
  • 1.397 students, researchers and public audience participated in a dozen of thematic seminars, public lectures, organised in 2021 and 202