25 January 2022
Unite! at the Virtual Forum of Universities for Europe's Future
Brigitte Plateau, Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble, Jens Schneider, Vice-Rector for Transfer and International Affairs at the Technical University of Darmstadt and Roberto Zanino Rector's Delegate for PhD Programmes and International University Networks at Politecnico di Torino, will represent Unite! at the Virtual Forum of Universities for the Europe’s Future

Within the framework of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Forum, which took place from, January 25th to January 26th, was an excellent opportunity for reflection on the role of universities in the Europe of the future and their contribution to its construction. Through dialogue involving national authorities, the European Commission and the European stakeholders in the higher education sector, including alliances such as the European Universities. This event is an incubator for new proposals for shaping the university of tomorrow, drawing in particular on the feedback from the 41 alliances set up under the “European Universities” initiative.

Brigitte Plateau, European Alliances Strategy Delegate at the Université Grenoble Alpes and Key Liaison Officer (KLO) at Unite! moderated one of the round tables of the Forum, entitled: “A common European framework. Putting the values and principles of higher education into practice”. The round table was composed by heads of different European universities, higher education associations and heads of ministries of education. They discussed about how universities can be supported in upholding and promoting active citizenship, tolerance, diversity, openness and critical thinking and in facing the challenges to fair international collaboration. They also used the opportunity to talk about the importance of reaching the goal of positioning European Union as a safe haven for the freedom of scientific research and democratic values. 

Jens Schneider, Professor of Civil Engineering and Vice-Rector for Transfer and International Affairs at the Technical University of Darmstadt, and member of Unite!'s Ph.D. as Learning-Research-Innovation Interface task force, participated in the Forum's session on Innovation Ecosystems and Entrepreneurship, in which representatives of six other university alliances took part.  In his speech, entitled: “Unite! a nucleus for a new type of innovation ecosystem merging technology, entrepreneurship, social engagement and Europe's diversity”, Jens Schneider explained that "the challenges facing humanity today are multiple, diverse and complex - and they are enormous. The overriding quest to create innovative and sustainable solutions depends on the determined commitment of cooperating stakeholders around the world. Engineering and technology are at the heart of this process. Based on continuous exchange with natural and social scientists, students trained at European Technical Universities can work as ideal links between academic theory, practice and long-term vision. Their indispensable tools are knowledge, ambition and creativity. At the same time, transforming abstract ideas into substantial technologies, products and services also requires entrepreneurial skills, a social background and strong values. For change to happen, we need to include our young people and their holistic problem-solving perspectives. 

"The visionary but crucial idea of creating European universities is a great opportunity to spread these needs and to link our already existing innovation ecosystems in Europe. To do so, we can take advantage of the immense and extraordinary diversity that makes up our multiple cultures, languages and skills in Europe. By being the foundation and providing the indispensable support, democracy is at the heart of it all. The result will be a unique innovation ecosystem that will serve as an innovation hub"..

Professor Schneider

Roberto Zanino, our Key Liason Officer for Politecnico di Torino, was invited to the session about "Strengthening the training-employment link: teaming up to increase the competitiveness of European higher education" where he gave a presentation entitled "From servicing particular interests to ensuring science and technology benefit humanity and our planet". Through his contribution, he explored drivers for change, how we should respond to these, the partners needed and experiences learned from PoliTo, Unite! and his involvement as Director of the CESAER.