Regional leaders joined academic and policy staff from the University of Warwick at a summit with European counterparts this week.
The delegation was invited by a new, growing university alliance founded by the University of Warwick, L’Université Paris Seine, and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), aimed at forging European links post-Brexit. At the summit hosted by Île de France region in Paris on Monday 5 November, the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia became the fourth institution to join the group. It has also been revealed that discussions are well in advance for further members to join.
The initiative was first launched in March at the University of Warwick’s base in London’s Shard Building, where the members agreed to deliver an alliance of like-minded European institutions in response to the European Commission’s call for the creation of strategic collaborations between institutions.
Among the regional leaders present at the meeting were Bob Sleigh, Deputy Mayor of West Midlands and Leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council and Monica Fogarty, Managing Director at Warwickshire County Council who met European counterparts including Stéphanie Von Euw, Vice President in charge of European affairs of the regional council of Île de France and Francis Baert, strategy planning manager for Flanders Investment and Trade.
The regional stakeholders, policy makers and researchers shared expertise and discussed opportunities created by continued, and deeper, cross Europe co-operation drawing on this new university alliance. Among the topics up for discussion were:
- Cultural and Global Cities: How our cities are empowered to use their culture heritage, assets and identity to shape and influence the places they become in the future.
- Inclusive Growth and the Development of Cities: Ensuring that future economic growth in our places works to benefit all of our citizens, communities, and localities - whoever and wherever they are.
- Healthy and Active Cities: Exploring how our cities and towns can become spaces and environments to improve, develop and enhance health & wellbeing so that our populations become healthier and happier.
The University of Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft said:
The University of Warwick is an outward-facing, Europeanist, modern university which adopts a collaborative approach, and, we see our values reflected back in our partners in this new alliance.
I am delighted the University of Ljubljana is joining this alliance. It is the leading, oldest and largest University in Slovenia, and one of Europe’s largest universities. It is one with which Warwick already collaborates in research – especially in maths and complexity science.
We are committed to Europe-wide research and teaching collaborations, and we want to continue despite the political and economic cleavages that Brexit could bring to future UK relations with continental Europe.
The alliance was initiated because we can’t afford simply to wait for that to be fully resolved. We chose to act now not just to show our commitment to work together with partners in Europe.
With our partners we now aim to move forward and provide a network of actively engaged students, teachers and researchers across Europe and we will continue to seek opportunities to form further such partnerships in other European countries in the coming months.”
Cllr Bob Sleigh, Deputy Mayor of the West Midlands, added:
The summit has been a fantastic opportunity for leaders from across our region to come together and share ideas and experiences with our European counterparts.
We have identified many areas of commonality between our local communities, including social, economic and logistical challenges, and the valuable role that sport and culture can play in the success of our places.
The West Midlands is a dynamic, outward facing region so I’m pleased to see the University of Warwick, through the European University Alliance, making this inter-regional collaboration possible. I now look forward to the opportunities this can provide to drive innovation for the future success of our region.”
Igor Papič, Rector of the University of Ljubljana, said:
It is a great honour and pleasure for the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) to join the European university alliance founded by the three universities – the L’Université Paris Seine (France), the University of Warwick (United Kingdom) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium).
An important strategic orientation of our university is internationalization. After intense discussions, we are convinced the alliance shares a common vision of innovative, creative and inclusive education. It provides collaborative solutions to international challenges, generates synergies between research, education, innovation, and economic contribution, and motivates interregional collaboration.
We believe the University of Ljubljana as a partner complements the alliance, and are strongly committed to contributing significantly to the successful implementation of the initiative.”
L’Université Paris Seine’s President, François Germinet said:
To have the University of Ljublana joining our network reinforces our European academic and scientific project. Fully in line with the vision and actions we have put in place, it will enhance our forthcoming propositions.
The organization of this workshop-day hosted by the Île de France Region, in the presence of our respective regional partners is a real proof of our desire to offer an open university network in close contact with our territories.”
Vrije Universiteit Brussel’s Vice-Rector of Innovation and Valorisation Policy, Hugo Thienpont said:
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is pleased with the joining of the University of Ljubljana to our network. Together we aim to form a dynamic consortium of universities that are determined to integrate their activities in a truly European way where multi-disciplinarity and multi-linguism prepares our students for living and working in the Europe of the future.”
Photos: ©Lionel Pagès | Université Paris Seine