Shaping our future: 3rd EUniWell Rectors’ Assembly in Leiden

21/07/2020 | by EUniWell

From 12 to 13 July 2022 Rectors, Vice-Rectors and other leading representatives from all EUniWell universities came together to collectively shape the future of the Alliance. International collaboration, broadening our outlook and expanding our community were key themes throughout the two-day event.

Last week Rector Magnificus Professor Hester Bijl hosted the 3rd EUniWell Rectors’ Assembly at Leiden University. Rectors, Vice-Rectors, student delegates and management representatives from all EUniWell universities came together for the bi-annual meeting, which sought to secure the building blocks that will form EUniWell’s strategy moving into the second half of our pilot phase and beyond, and refine our outputs and activities in the future.

Looking Back - for our community, with our community

A key focus of the Rectors’ Assembly was to reflect on the work accomplished during the first half of EUniWell’s pilot phase in developing joint programmes in teaching, and facilitating cooperation in research and innovation. By highlighting what has already been achieved within EUniWell, we focus on lessons learned to inform and improve our work moving forward. 

In her welcome statement, Bijl accordingly noted: “There is no doubt that we have come a long way. The EUniWell Pilot was launched at the onset of a global pandemic and together we have built foundations, delivered on our work programme and learned from the challenges we have faced along the way.”

Officially opening the Assembly, EUniWell Chief Development Officer, Professor Beatrix Busse emphasised: “Like all of you, I remain convinced that our focus on well-being within a European University Alliance was inspired.  It reflects European values, it is timely, and over the past two years we have seen how responsive we can be to the world around us.”

Co-creation in action: EUniWell now 

Ensuring that our values are guiding our efforts now and in future, dialogue on the continued development and expansion of EUniWell took centre stage. Delegates of the University of Murcia, which was welcomed as a Partner of the European University for Well-Being in March of this year, joined the Rectors’ Assembly in Leiden to connect with EUniWell colleagues in person for the first time, and to officially sign the Consortium Agreement. In his plenary remarks, Professor José Luján Alcaraz, Rector of the University of Murcia, stated that: “EUniWell is the Alliance best suited to the University of Murcia and where we can make an important contribution with the areas we excel in. It has therefore long been an aspiration of ours and one that we can now say, as an official part of the Alliance, exceeds our expectations.”

Contributing to the higher education landscape in Europe is a significant undertaking that requires commitment and regular adjustment. In response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, EUniWell has forged a relationship with Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (KNU). The crisis, which has led to the international displacement of more than five million people, and caused an enormous disruption to the higher education sector in Ukraine, has resulted in a clear need to provide pathways to continue academic endeavours. Hence, EUniWell was delighted to welcome the Rector of  KNU, Professor Volodymyr Bugrov, to Leiden and to make official in the framework of the Rectors' Assembly that KNU is to join the Alliance. 

Bugrov said: “The joining of KNU to EUniWell has created strong expectations among the academic community of Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University. I am convinced that the expanded EUniWell alliance will become a functional platform of interaction for educational, scientific and cultural-artistic academic exchanges, deepening educational and scientific cooperation between states.”

Alongside the Rectors’ Assembly a meeting of the EUniWell Student Board took place. Student representatives were also engaged in direct dialogue with the Rectors, led by Chief Student Officer, Lotte Nagelhout. She emphasised the role of students at the core of EUniWell and the positive cooperation within the Board, saying that she was “struck by the enthusiasm and respect the  student representatives show each other.” She invited the Rectors to use the Assembly to connect with students and to continue to listen to their ideas and needs in the future.

What’s next? Shaping our future

The further refinement of the EUniWell strategy is crucial for the development of the Alliance as we move into the next phase of our work. The insightful discussions of the participants highlighted the importance of continuing to expand and develop partnerships and mobility opportunities for students, researchers and university staff; advancing a common approach to sharing and developing digital infrastructures; and defining the legal form that the network will take in the future.

As science and international cooperation to improve the living standards of Europeans and beyond is at the heart of EUniWell, it was a particular honour to also welcome the President of the European Research Council, Professor Maria Leptin, to this Rectors’ Assembly who joined a discussion on the vision of improving well-being in Europe through research and cooperation within and beyond European University Alliances. 

The Assembly has confirmed the shared EUniWell vision for the European University of the Future.  We are energised and excited for the next phase of the Alliance, where EUniWell will become a driving force, in higher education and beyond, to shape Europe’s common future for the better. 


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