The Circle U. alliance, which brings together UCLouvain and six leading European universities,* was officially launched on 4 November with several webinars organised by the European Commission.
Circle U. is one of the 41 university consortia selected by the European Commission to be part of the ‘European Universities’ initiative. The alliance has set itself the goal of becoming an inclusive, research-intensive and interdisciplinary European university. Ultimately, it aims to offer students a European campus experience where they can pursue more programmes and degrees.
The 4 November webinars – which convened the rectors and student representatives of the alliances selected during the second call for proposals – marked the beginning of the three-year pilot phase of the alliance. During this phase, Circle U. will set up structures for collaboration between alliance universities and carry out a series of concrete projects, including the creation of interdisciplinary research centres where universities, students and external partners address the major societal challenges of climate, health and democracy. Other projects include the development of student-led sustainable innovation initiatives to drive innovation and entrepreneurship, and the establishment of an open school of public governance.
For UCLouvain Rector Vincent Blondel, ‘Circle U. is an opportunity to mobilise staff and students of the seven universities to address the challenges to the climate, democracy and health on a global scale. Our commitment as a university in transition to a more sustainable society is fully reflected in what we want to implement through Circle U.’
The rectors of the seven member universities and the project coordinator met on 4 November to officially launch the Circle U. alliance (from top left to bottom right): University of Oslo, UCLouvain, University of Belgrade, University of Paris, Aarhus University, King's College London, Humboldt University of Berlin, and the project coordinator (Oslo).
Students at the heart of Circle U.
Collaboration with students is at the heart of Circle U. They played a decisive role in the design of the alliance and will continue to actively participate in its development. The representatives of the seven universities have now created a common representation structure, the Circle U. Student Union (CUSU), which states, ‘CUSU was created to ensure that student voices and interests are heard in the Circle U. project. Through the cooperation of students in the alliance, we have the opportunity to build links and learn from each other to develop the student movement in a European context. This project allows us to break down cultural barriers and find best practices. We are trying, in a way, to build the future together.’
Over the next few months, staff and students will work together to set up Circle U.’s structures and to launch projects. Numerous contacts, both formal and informal, have already been established between the members at all levels. ‘Circle U. was born out of a common desire to expand the training and collaboration opportunities offered to our students and staff members,’ Rector Blondel says. ‘I’m very happy to see that many synergies are already established. This is a long-term project that we’ll carry out in stages while learning from each other.’
* The seven Circle U. members are the University of Oslo, the University of Paris, Aarhus University, Humboldt University of Berlin, the University of Belgrade, King’s College London, and UCLouvain.
More information on Circle U.: https://www.circle-u.eu/