New dawn for community of European universities

A new community of European universities united by a shared commitment to advancing social good and helping solve global challenges will be launched in Amsterdam today. Aurora is a new network of nine European universities with similar philosophies and a shared mission to make a real difference to society. The nine founding institutions are: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands), Université Grenoble-Alpes (France), University of Aberdeen (Scotland), University of Antwerp (Belgium), University of Bergen (Norway), University of Duisberg-Essen (Germany), University of East Anglia (England), University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the University of Iceland.

10/21/2016 | 3:52 PM

The president of the Vrije Universiteit  Amsterdam and founding president of Aurora, Professor Jaap Winter, said: “What unites us as founding members of the Aurora network is the conviction that there is no trade-off between research excellence by global standards, broad access for students and an inclusive academic environment and societal impact in research, teaching and outreach. We strive to make to combine these elements in the fibres of the university organisation and culture. Aurora universities share their determination to build a different kind of inclusive university community that fits a more networked generation, that strives to help solve global challenges and provides collaborative space for members to learn from each other and with each other to become better in what we aim to do.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, Professor David Richardson, said: “Aurora exists not to lobby for self-interest but to bring together like-minded universities with a demonstrable track record of research excellence, a shared commitment to strengthening each other, and focusing activity on finding solutions to some of the problems our world needs to solve. Today is the formal launch of Aurora but already our researchers and our students have gathered from across Europe to start work on shared challenges and opportunities.”

Aurora universities are world leaders in academic research – within the world top 250 in field weighted citation impact. An Elsevier commissioned report found that as a network, Aurora outperforms other more established networks like LERU, Coïmbra, UNICA and Universitas21 in field weighted citation impact (a measure of research quality and impact).

Today’s launch has been preceded by workshops in Amsterdam and Grenoble involving all member universities identifying areas where Aurora can add real value to society by working together on important societal challenges such as sustainability, climate and energy, digital technology and society, student experience and innovation in teaching and learning, human life and health, and transformations in a globalising society.

A workshop has also been held in Amsterdam bringing together student representatives from Aurora universities. The students’ workshop focused on exchange of experience, good and bad practice, and the identification of possibilities for co-operation and mutual learning across Aurora.

University of East Anglia Students’ Union Campaigns and Democracy Officer Amy Rust is a delegate to the Aurora workshop on student experience and said: "The Aurora student workshops offer a fantastic opportunity for current students and the Students’ Union. We hope the workshop will provide opportunities to share experiences and problems, whilst creating an exciting learning experience for our students which wouldn't have been possible without this network."