We, the students of EUniWell, have come together to strongly support the creation of this European University, which will focus on well-being and diversity.
We feel that this cooperation between our universities means that every student is presented with new opportunities and possibilities that they otherwise would not have. Since there is, at present, a diverse range of opinions about current and future European identity, the UK’s departure from the EU has made us realise that we cannot allow for European identity to fracture any more in the future.
EUniWell institutions (University of Birmingham, Cologne, Florence, Leiden, Nantes, Linnaeus University and Semmelweis University) came together in Cologne in 2019 for a Design Thinking workshop. The aim of this design thinking workshop was to bring all agents – students, academic and administrative – from the different institutions together and think about our contribution to the future of the European education area. In mixed teams, we brainstormed ideas and tried to figure out the needs of the different focus groups present. The results were an eye-opener for what could be possible in this European University Network.
Inspired by the ambitious nature and European scope of this project, the start of 2020 saw a group of students from each university working together intensively in order to increase student participation in the project even more. The second meeting of EUniWell in Cologne not only enabled us to learn more about the process of creating the proposed alliance, but also gave us, students, a platform upon which we could contribute our ideas and suggestions on behalf of our peers.
A large-scale cooperation of the students was launched in a Design Thinking Challenge in Leiden at the end of January 2020, at which 75 students from the seven universities participated. The participating students were to come up with ideas that questioned existing boundaries and redefine the ways education is delivered, while supporting their learning journey and boosting their skills development when addressing the challenges of the 21st century. In order to tackle questions such as “How do we engage our students in global well-being?” and “How do we stimulate collaboration among the different campuses and double our student mobility?”, the students were divided into teams and given instructions on how to use a design thinking approach. By the end of the day, each team had one minute to pitch their final ideas.
Those meetings led to the creation of a EUniWell Student Board.
The mission of this board is to both develop, co-create and critically evaluate ideas within EUniWell and to ensure that the student’s voices are reflected in the development of the European University.
Each university runs a Local Student Committee according to own governance traditions and elects two members as representatives for the EUniWell Student Board.
The Student Board, consisting of 14 students from 7 universities, will be kept as diverse as possible, by including students of different backgrounds and study levels, to make sure that the voices of all students are heard. The chairperson of the board rotates, according to the place where the meetings take place.
We are united by a common European spirit. Our goal is to make higher education, the acquisition of knowledge and a European feeling accessible to as many students as possible. We strive to enliven the spirit of the EU through the formation of a resilient, connected and inter-European community. Being a student means much more than just studying for an exam. The knowledge obtained through studying enables us, as members of society, to ameliorate the world in which we live. Cooperating with others, helps us to develop new ideas and perspectives, which lead to new possibilities. Sharing knowledge also promotes progress and learning. Through openness and collaboration with a focus on well-being, we hope that we can help to improve students’ mental health and see a positive change in them and their overall well-being.
Together we are stronger. We believe that our contribution to EUniWell has a significant impact on the future of European higher education and students' European identity as a whole.