Official Opening of our European University Alliance
Following ever-changing COVID-19 regulations, various postponements and many discarded plans, the time had finally come: on 22 and 23 March 2021, the European University Alliance E³UDRES² celebrated its first Online Opening Conference under the topic “Towards Future Universities for Smart and Sustainable Regions”.
The virtual event was hosted by the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, the lead of the E³UDRES² alliance. With more than 150 people from all six member countries included in the consortium attending the conference, the event can certainly be regarded as a successful and motivating milestone for E³UDRES².
Future Universities and Smart and Sustainable Regions
The two-day event dealing with the core topics of E³UDRES², “Future Universities” as well as “Smart and Sustainable Regions”, offered new and thought-provoking insights from various perspectives. In the run-up to the event, ideas for these two main themes were collected in the E³UDRES² Call for Ideas, which was open to submissions from everyone within but also outside the E³UDRES² consortium.
The most promising contributions were presented at the conference and then discussed in a virtual coffee lounge, allowing the attendees to not only get in touch directly with the authors of the concepts and other participants of the conference, but also to enjoy a certain conference atmosphere and an opportunity for networking in this virtual space.
Keynotes by renowned experts
The E³UDRES² Online Opening Conference also offered keynotes by renowned experts such as Manuel Heitor (Portuguese Minister of Science and Technology), Tine Delva (Deputy Head of the “Higher Education” Unit of the European Commission), and Kristaps Rocans (project manager of the Vidzeme Planning Region), among others.
Both conference days closed with an inspiring panel discussion hosted by Michal Karpíšek, Secretary-General of EURASHE (European Association of Institutions in Higher Education), an institution representing universities of applied sciences and university colleges aiming to strengthen the impact of innovative, high-quality professional higher education in Europe.
Opening Ceremony with political representatives
Day two of the conference undoubtedly included the highlight of the event: the alliance celebrated its official E³UDRES² Online Opening Ceremony with statements by high national and international political representatives such as Matthias Stadler (Mayor of the city of St. Pölten), Johanna Mikl-Leitner (Governor of Lower Austria), Heinz Faßmann (Austrian Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research), Vanessa Debiais-Sainton (Head of the Higher Education Unit, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture at the European Commission), and Franz Fischler (former EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries, and President of the European Forum Alpbach).
The official opening ceremony was framed by music composed especially for the occasion by E³UDRES² project coordinator Hannes Raffaseder and featured the premiere of a promotional E³UDRES² video featuring staff and students from all six partner universities.
The E³UDRES² Online Opening Conference marked the kick-off to a successful cooperation within the alliance, connecting to external institutions and various stakeholders, and providing a preview of what’s to come concerning the topics of E³UDRES².