Richard Clouet: «The universities of the outermost regions are ready to work together»

Campus RUP, the alliance of seven universities in the outermost regions, opts to be recognized as a European University. The Vice Chancellor for International Relations of the ULPGC sees university and scientific cooperation in the EU-RUP space as an irreversible fact.

Léalo en Español.

THE INITIATIVE European Universities has just started and has already had an enduring effect on institutions of science and higher education in the outermost regions: the creation of a transoceanic Campus RUP, with European vision and values, through which 50,000 students, researchers, professors and administration and services staff will move for the next three years. Half of their university communities will make virtual and face-to-face stays on campus in the outermost regions, according to the alliance partners, formed by seven universities in the EU-RUP area –Antilles, Açores, French Guiana, Madeira, La Réunion, La Laguna and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Campus RUP will choose to be recognized as a European University in the call that the Commission will open this fall. Its advantages are the scientific specialization in priority fields for the European Union, such as clean energy, biodiversity, oceanography, astrophysics or adaptation to climate change, and on the other hand, the strategic position of the ORs in the Mid-Atlantic, the Indian and the Caribbean, which makes its universities valuable agents of competitiveness, public diplomacy and influence of European values ​​in the world.

This Thursday, November 7, the Commission will present in Brussels the opening of the second round of projects, at a conference with representatives of the first 17 European Universities selected in the first and the ministers in charge of Higher Education, Innovation Science policies from Finland, Croatia and Portugal.

Leaders of the Campus RUP alliance will attend the forum with the purpose of listening to the European Universities that have already been selected and taking note of their experiences and advice in the project preparation phase.

The European Universities initiative was a proposal of the European Commission in the Gothenburg Social Council of 2017. At the European Council in December of that year, the Heads of State and Government gave it the political impetus. The European Union’s vision is that, by 2025, there will be a European Higher Education Area based on transnational alliances of universities and research centers.

In June 2019, the Commission elected the first 17 European Universities, consortia in which 114 institutions of higher education from 24 Member States participate. Each alliance will receive, on average, five million euros through the Erasmus Plus program, to deploy their offer of mobility, research and qualifications in a pilot phase, by 2022.

The Vice-Rector for International Relations, Richard Clouet, and the Director of Relations with the EU, Lucas Pérez, will represent the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at the conference on Thursday, November 7 in Brussels.

Dr. Clouet has agreed to answer by email a questionnaire from Europa Rup about the expectations of the Campus RUP alliance in the European Universities Initiative.

Question: What lessons has the Campus RUP Consortium contributed to its participation in the first call of the European Universities Initiative? What benefit does this experience bring you for the second call for projects that will open this fall of 2019?

Answer: From the presentation of the first project and our joint work with the Universities of the outermost regions we have learned many things:

The complementarity between the scientific and teaching works we do. Each with our specificity, but also fully feasible to be involved in joint qualifications and first level scientific projects.

Secondly, the identification of Master, Doctorate, own training, which we already carried out jointly between several of the RUP Universities and that we had not identified as potentialities.

In addition, we have learned that the difference between dimensions and types of Universities is not an obstacle to growing together and that some Universities push others in certain fields of action.

We have also discovered that Campus RUP should not be a campus among the RUPs, but should be a Campus of all Universities of the outermost regions in which large-scale European Universities also participate with different degrees of collaboration that help us to better position ourselves in the EHEA.

The last one, a very important conclusion: we can start working on joint aspects in a Campus RUP, regardless of winning the Project. We will make joint meetings, training offered to all Universities, we will enhance mobility. All this within a very ambitious project.

Richard Clouet
Richard Clouet.– Foto: © ULPGC.

Q: The Commission wants the new European Universities born of this Initiative to provide thought and solutions to the great challenges of global and open societies (climate change, inequality, populism, the crisis of global capitalism, the transformation of the world of I work for the extension of the applications of Artificial Intelligence,…) How can the universities of the Campus RUP Consortium contribute to these great debates, from their position as peripheral producers of science, thought and technology?

A: Providing a vision of science from a privileged scenario that the EU does not have in its continental territory.

In addition, observing the superior formation as a lever of interrelation among all Europeans, respecting their differences (unity in diversity), but from a purely Europeanist vision, such as that of RUP citizenship.

Also, betting on the EU’s relationship with Northwest Africa, Southeast Africa, America and Asia, continents with which RUP Universities have a special relationship for years.

Q: What do you hope to learn from the meeting on November 7, in Brussels, with the 17 European Universities selected in the first call?

A: Good practices, joint activity already started, futures objective that the Commission has valued favorably and that Campus RUP can also achieve.

We hope to hear, in addition, global approaches, visions of the whole that go beyond the characteristics of one or another consortium.

We would like to explore ways of relating Campus RUP with other projects of already consolidated University unions.

We have already learned that we must work together independently of the project itself.

Q: After participating in the first call for projects, do you still think that the «outermost difference» (geographical, cultural, economic) is a competitive advantage of the consortium? Need to be better explained?

A: Absolutely, to both questions.

We are natural and geographically advanced territories, but at the same time they have natural characteristics linked to the sea, the sky, nature and diversity, not only in Europe, but in the world.

The RUP singularity must be better explained. We were valued with a good explanation of our interrelation with Macaronesia, but not with the Caribbean or South Africa, which are incontestable potentialities. We must strive to explain it better.

Q: How do you assess the involvement of Member States with outermost regions regions in supporting this consortium? Do you think they have understood the uniqueness of the project? As for the regional authorities of the ORs, what would you ask them for, in view of the second call for projects?

A: Yes, Member States have understood. To present this project we have received the strong support of the MEPs of the ORs, the ORs Unit of the Commission and the local governments of each outermost region. On the other hand, the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, through the Spanish Service for the Internationalization of Education (SEPIE), is strongly committed to this initiative of the European Commission, and considers that it is a true transformation of the Higher Education in Spain and Europe that will allow greater mobility among universities, both students (who may change countries throughout the degree without having to go through validations) and teachers, researchers and administration staff.

Although today the European Union takes into account the ORs, it does so incompletely. It is necessary that the Union, the Governments of the Member States and the Regional Governments give greater impetus to everything that has to do with education and, in particular, higher education, looking for concrete and precise proposals so that the universities of these regions, among others, they can compete on equal terms in the European Higher Education Area. In this sense, the European campus transnational alliances project will improve the quality and attractiveness of higher education in the RUP regions, and stimulate cooperation between institutions and their regions.

How to follow the European Universities conference

The European Commission will present this Thursday, November 7, the second call for projects of the European Universities Initiative. Building the universities of the future conference will bring together representatives of the 17 selected university consortiums in June, in the first round, together with alliance representatives who will opt for the call that will open this fall, including the Campus RUP project, the alliance from seven universities in the outermost regions of the European Union. The ministers of Science and Universities of Croatia Blaženka Divjak will also participate; Finland, Hanna Kosonen, and Portugal, Minister Manuel Heitor, as well as senior officials of the European Commission in charge of the Erasmus + program, in which the European Universities Initiative is registered.

  • The conference will be held between 2 pm and 6 pm (Brussels local time).
  • Conference Program.
  • The Commission will broadcast the video signal of the conference via streaming from the Erasmus + Facebook page, and will tell it from Twitter.

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