29 January, 2019 - Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor closes IUA Seminar on Ireland’s Place in a new European University System

The Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D today [29th January 2018] closed a breakfast seminar on “Ireland’s place in a new European University System”.

Hosted by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), speakers at the event included the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Mr Tibor Navracsics and a panel of experts from the Higher Education Authority, the European University Association and Irish higher education institutions.  The panel discussed Irish universities and their place in the forthcoming European universities alliances.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “European university alliances are a clear step forward in promoting inclusiveness and mobility for higher education and for strengthening existing European networks. Irish higher education institutions have long delivered in this area and are valuable strategic partners.”

“Students and their experience in Higher Education is at the epicentre of my brief. I want all our students to gain as much exposure as possible so they can walk across any international stage and compete with the best the world over.”

“There is enormous potential for Irish universities to partner with their European counterparts to expand the horizons of knowledge, enhance collaboration across boundaries and foster cultural understanding and experiences, to ensure that our students reach their full potential.”

Higher education institutions across Europe are currently forming strategic alliances with a view to applying for funding under the EU Erasmus+ scheme. ‘European university alliances’ will be alliances of higher education institutions sharing a long-term joint strategy based on a common vision and shared values, across various levels of the organisation and different areas of activity.  Within these alliances, embedded mobility at all levels, including at Bachelor, Master and Doctoral levels will be a standard feature allowing any student, academic or researcher to study, work or do research in different languages and move seamlessly across borders and disciplines.

They will promote common European values and a strengthened European identity by bringing together a new generation of Europeans, who are able to cooperate and work within different European and global cultures, in different languages, and across border, sectors and academic disciplines. These alliances aim to act as models of good practice to progressively increase the quality, international competitiveness and attractiveness of European higher education.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor concluded by stating that: “These alliances can play an important part in achieving our aim of guaranteeing that all students have access to the best opportunities across Europe, regardless of which Member State they call home”.




Notes for Editors


The European Universities alliance Initiative was taken up in the European Council Conclusions in December 2017, which called on the Member States of the European Union, the Council, and the European Commission, in line with their respective competences, to take work forward by strengthening strategic partnerships across the EU between HEIs and encouraging the emergence by 2024 of some twenty “European Universities”, consisting of bottom-up alliances of HEIs across the EU which will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European Universities.


The pilot actions under the Erasmus+ 2019 and 2020 calls will test different models for implementing the concept of European Universities alliances. Pilot projects will test different aspects of the concept, therefore once a quality threshold has been reached, the decision on what to fund will also be made on the basis of:


  • the need to achieve a balanced EU regional representation at action level;
  • the need to ensure a diversity of cooperation models in line with the objectives of the action, including through different starting points and different types of higher education institutions.

The initial Pilot call launched in October 2018 and will close on 28th February 2019. Each successful alliance could receive c. €5m over three years HEIs in an alliance with the minimum three partners from three member states could receive c€500,000 each per year to help set up the European University.