An on-line conference of the European University Association (EUA) was held on 12 December 2022, at which the team of the International Cooperation Department took part. The topic of the event was "Deepening, Widening, Focusing: How to Navigate Transnational University Cooperation into the Future?". It provided the much-needed debate on the road that Universities must take in order to be sustainable and up-to-date in the face of the current challenges of the new geopolitical reality.
The event was aimed at university representatives, higher education and research stakeholders and European level policy makers. Keynote speakers were Michael Murphy, EUA President; Kathleen O'Connor, Vice-President for International and European Networks, University of Lille, France; Matteo Vespa, President of European Students Union; Sophia Eriksson-Waterschoot, Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+, Directorate General for Education and Culture, European Commission, as well as professors from Ghent University, Belgium; King's College, London, UK; Free University of Berlin, etc.
The purpose of the conference was dedicated to the significance of strategic partnerships and alliances which have contributed significantly to deepening cooperation, while expanding it to new forms of partnerships over the past decade. In parallel, the variety of existing forms of cooperation within the framework of bilateral student mobility, joint programmes, peer-to-peer research cooperation, small scale cooperation projects to fully fledged multilateral partnerships, as well as the alliances under the European Universities Initiative were discussed. In Europe and beyond its boundaries, the paradigm has long been - the more mobility and cooperation, the better. Transnational university cooperation, therefore, remains the focus of European level policy discussions in the context of the European Strategy for Universities and the Bologna Process and there are many policy goals attached to it. The world is changing rapidly as we are sliding from COVID-19 pandemic to a major geopolitical crisis, sustainability challenges are becoming increasingly evident, and that ultimately also affects transnational university cooperation.
The organisers of the event drew the attention of the participants on the fact that the pilot phase of the European Universities Initiative was coming to an end, and the mid-term review of the ongoing EU funding programmes was already approaching, which was an important period for European universities to summarise the outcomes and consider what they needed and where they would like to be in the future.
The European University Association (EUA) is the representative organisation of 850 universities and national rectors' conferences in 48 European countries. EUA plays a crucial role in the Bologna Process and the impact on the EU higher education, research and innovation policies. Medical University – Varna has been a full member of EUA since 2006.