NEOLAiA ALLIANCE; AN EMERGING GROUP OF YOUNG UNIVERSITIES TO FOSTER REGIONALLY ROOTED EUROPEAN TALENTS

Made up of six young, internationally committed universities with robust rankings and a strong regional impact, NEOLAiA seeks a stable European alliance to exploit synergies in teaching, mobility, research, transfer, diversity management, and the promotion of multicultural values and multilingualism.

The University of Jaén leads European University Alliance NEOLAiA, a consortium of six young, medium-sized European universities committed to the social and economic well-being of its regions and with prominent positions in THE Young Universities ranking, among others.

The six partner universities that form the consortium as full members span different regions across the European Union: the University of Jaén, as coordinator (South-West Region), the University of Bielefeld from Germany (West Region), Siauliai State University of Applied Sciences from Lithuania (North Region), the University of Ostrava from the Czech Republic (Centre Region), Stefan cel Mare University in Suceava from Romania (East Region), and the University of Crete from Greece (South-East Region). In addition to these six partner universities, the consortium incorporates external partners outside the European Union: Western Cape University (Cape Town, South Africa), Akureyri University (Iceland) and Universidad de Guadalajara (Mexico), which also participate in the project activities, albeit without direct funding from the European Union.

NEOLAiA (which means ‘youth’ in Greek) is based on eight pillars: mobility, teaching, research, transfer, diversity management, multiculturalism and multilingualism, and sustainability of project actions. It aims to generate fertile synergies in these areas, improving, in the medium and long term, the effectiveness and position of its members.

The motto of the alliance, ‘Young Universities Empowering regional European talents’, reflects the spirit of the project, which also aims to disseminate and support European values and to move away from populism, especially in areas that are far from the major European cities. In its work, NEOLAiA will also embed cross-cutting themes of wide societal interest. “These areas of work, which will be analyzed transversally both in teaching and research, mobility, transfer, etc., correspond to the so-called ‘megatrends’, which are related to challenges such as the depopulation of inland areas, climate change, the fight against populism, the creation and search for new materials, the applied use of humanistic knowledge, the management of health in an aging population and the comprehensive use of information technologies in all areas of teaching and research,” says Sebastián Bruque, Vice-Rector for Internationalization at the University of Jaén.

The project, whose funding could reach up to €6 million, was submitted to the call for European Universities, an initiative sponsored by French President Emmanuel Macron in September 2017 to create at least 20 European universities by 2024. The first pilot programme of this initiative financed 17 consortia in 2019 and 24 more are expected to be financed in 2020. The conditions of the programme will be definitively defined in the new call for European Universities under the new Erasmus Programme 2021-2027.

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