The League of European Research Universities (LERU), and a group of seven research universities in central and eastern Europe have agreed to work together on key challenges.
The decision was taken at a meeting of a delegation from LERU universities and rectors of the group of central and eastern European universities (CE7) in Prague, Czech Republic, on 8 October.
The CE7 members include the University of Belgrade, Serbia; Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary; the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; Charles University, Czech Republic; the University of Tartu, Estonia; the University of Warsaw, Poland; and the University of Zagreb, Croatia.
The LERU delegation included the rectors of the universities of Freiburg, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; Leuven, Belgium; Utrecht, the Netherlands; and Zürich, Switzerland, as well as LERU secretary general Professor Kurt Deketelaere.
Professor Bert van der Zwaan, chair of the LERU board and rector of Utrecht University, said: “I am very pleased that we can now announce a joint initiative to demonstrate to policy makers across Europe that there is more that unites research universities than divides them.”
In a statement after the meeting, LERU said the CE7 initiative would enable universities from across all corners of Europe to work together on key issues and challenges – including within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research programme.
These include red tape and underfunding in much needed areas of research and the wastage caused by low proposal success rates.
LERU said that in some countries these problems are compounded by others such as low salaries, lack of infrastructure, sub-optimal policies and lack of prioritisation.
LERU added that the initiative would also enable the exchange of information and joint development of policy positions to “improve the framework conditions for research and education across a broad front in Europe”.
LERU and CE7 will discuss the so-called ‘widening’ actions by the European Commission, specifically the twinning, teaming and the European Research Area chairs instrument aimed at Central Europe, which do not function optimally, and formulate proposals for better approaches.