Author: rostanetek

Statement from the President of Aurora on the situation in Ukraine

In this incredibly sad time for Ukraine and its people, I, on behalf of Aurora, want to send a message of solidarity, hope and strength to the people of Ukraine to endure.

We are shocked and appalled by the actions taken by the Russian government and condemn this unconscionable and unjustified assault on Ukraine´s democracy and sovereignty.

We have reached out to our partners and friends at the Karazin Kharkiv National University to offer our support in any way we can. We highly appreciate the collaboration with our Ukrainian partners and continue to admire their strength and determination to promote strategic partnerships between European universities despite the dire circumstances that unfortunately as of now continue to escalate.

We hope to continue this work with you and to support your efforts in promoting democracy, freedom and friendly relationships in the context of the European Universities initiative. We stand strongly in solidarity with you in these extremely difficult times.


Prof. Jon Atli Benediktsson

Aurora President

Rector of the University of Iceland

University associations join forces to advance European Research Area

A range of leading European university associations have joined forces through an ‘ERA University associations group’ coordinated by the European University Association (EUA) to help advance the ERA in the context of the ERA Forum. The following associations in alphabetical order are currently involved in this open, inclusive and informal group:

The joining of forces amongst our associations aims at coordinating the advice from the European university sector following the publication of the Commission communication A new ERA for Research and Innovation from 30 September 2020, the Council recommendation ‘Pact for research and innovation in Europe’ and conclusions on ‘Future governance of the European Research Area’ from 26 November 2021. It also serves the purpose of ensuring the coordinated representation of the European university sector in the new ERA governance.

In the conclusions, the Council defined twenty ‘ERA Actions’ in an ‘ERA Policy Agenda 2022-2024’ and introduced the ‘ERA Forum’ as:

“The body, established by the Commission, responsible for enhancing coordination towards the effective implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda, supporting the Commission and the Member States in the delivery of the ERA Actions”.

The Council further defined that the ERA Forum should:

“Ensure representative involvement at its relevant meetings of EU-level umbrella organisations or other appropriate representative organisations relevant at EU level of the following seven types of stakeholders: universities and other higher education institutions, research and technology performing organisations, R&I-intensive businesses, including SMEs, individual researchers and innovators, including at early- and middle stages of their carriers, research infrastructures, R&I-funding organisations and academies of sciences”.

The discussions with the Council and the Commission clarified that one individual from each of the seven types of stakeholders identified may be present at the meetings of the ERA Forum. Aurora is involved in the pre-ERA Forum meetings to provide its input.

The first meeting of the ERA Forum is taking place on 25 February. Stephane Berghmans (EUA) or Silvia Gomez Recio (YERUN) will represent the European university sector.

Open courses for Aurora students in spring/summer 2022

This spring and summer, all Aurora students are invited to have a look at what courses are on offer for them at other Aurora universities. From Fintech and Emerging Financing Models, Big Data Management and Analysis, to Psychology in Sports, there’s a variety of subjects to suit everyone in each study level.

Click the button below to access more information on 98 courses at 8 different Aurora universities. Use the ‘Sort & Filter’ option in the spreadsheet in order to check prices, ECTS credits*, dates, and deadlines**. Some application windows are already open, find out how to apply on the respective course websites:

Each Aurora university has an allocation of Aurora funding to support outward mobility, and this may be available for your selected courses. Please check with your home university’s study abroad office for details on how to access relevant funding.

We hope you will be able to take the opportunity to study abroad at another Aurora university during your degree!

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a course to acquire new knowledge or learn a new skill!

*Admission to a course does not guarantee that the achieved learning outcomes or grades will be recognized at your home institution for your respective study programme. It is recommended to discuss recognition issues with the respective office/person at your home institution (e.g. Dean of Studies) as soon as possible.

**Please note that some dates are to be confirmed, and delivery modes may change due to unforeseen circumstances. Please get in touch directly with the hosting university for final details.

Open Aurora courses at the University of Innsbruck

Universität Innsbruck has opened 5 Aurora courses on a Bachelor, Master and PhD level. In addition, through Aurora, students have the opportunity to participate in classes organized by other Aurora universities. We welcome all students to sign up and participate in this spring’s courses.

The courses are as follows:

  • 800.860 Environment & Care: Canadian Perspectives (Bachelor Level, online, lecture, 3 ECTS Credits)
  • 800.870 Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation focusing on Sustainability & Climate Change (Master Level, blended format/short term mobility, course, 5 ECTS Credits)
  • 800.871 Educational Inequality (Master Level, online, lecture, 5 ECTS Credits)
  • 800.872 Climate Protection (Master Level, online, lecture, 2,5 ECTS Credits)
  • 645.900 Doctoral Seminar: “Borders and Places” (PhD Level, short term mobility, seminar 5 ECTS Credits)

The deadline for registration for the Bachelor’s and Master’s level courses is expected to last until January 30 (or until the maximum number of participants has been reached). The registration period for the system on PhD Level is expected to start on March 1.

Take a look at the brochure for a complete overview of available courses, as well as practical information on enrolling. Take a look at the UIBK Aurora Course Offerings on how to register for the courses.


Co-creation training workshop

Join us at the international co-creation event from February 3rd to 5th.

During this event, you will learn from co-creation experts from AURORA universities and beyond, and also join theoretical discussions and share experiences, practices and knowledge. The training will include interactive co-creation activities and sessions that will provide a first-hand experience of the practice of co-creation. Together we connect and build synergies. This event is open for interested educators/teachers, researchers, co-creation practitioners and experts, students, and community partners. PhD’s students who join this training can obtain 3 ECTS.

Interested? Please register here and/or contact Evert van Grol.

Mental Health at UEA and UIBK

Written by Emily Reeves, University of East Anglia, BA International Relations and Valerie Bauder, University of Innsbruck, BA Psychology


It seems almost obsolete to talk about the importance of friendships and being socially connected for mental health.

During this pandemic, most of us experienced a massive downturn in our social contacts. It is not insignificant that many students feel isolated and therefore more unhappy than before. As social creatures, we strongly crave new friendships, exchanges or even just something as simple as a hug.

Within the Aurora Student Champion scheme, the pen-pal activity connects two Aurora students from different institutions to facilitate the discussion of Aurora topics and events and communication between like-minded individuals. This activity led to the partnership and friendship between myself, Emily (UEA), and Valerie (UIBK). We chose to produce a piece of writing together comparing mental health at our institutions in the UK and Austria. From this, we decided to focus on friendship, how people socialise with one another, and why this is a positive thing.

Due to the pandemic, new students are less likely to meet new people. If they don’t get on particularly well with people they live with, they have no way of meeting other people through clubs, societies, or their courses; this limits their friendships and has arguably negatively impacted students’ mental health and wellbeing. Covid-19’s impact on people meeting others and forming friendships at university is something we were interested in exploring more deeply and comparing how our institutions have decided to tackle the issue.

At UEA, many people use Facebook groups to do things like advertise upcoming events or rooms which are available to rent. This year, there has been a new theme featured in these groups; advertising yourself to try and find friends. The past academic year has been difficult for everyone for various reasons, heavily impacting people’s ability to meet and interact with new people. Friendships at university are essential to good mental health. When students come to university, they establish friendships that encourage socialisation, get them out of their comfort zone, and provide a sense of belonging. Loneliness and alienation at university are detrimental to a student’s wellbeing, especially since mental health is already a big issue amongst them.

Students in university accommodation who have struggled to bond with their housemates have not been given the opportunity to meet new people in the same way as student’s pre-pandemic. In other circumstances, students would meet their housemates, the people living in accommodation around them, their coursemates, and members of societies or clubs. There were endless ways to meet new people pre-pandemic, but in the environment, we find ourselves in now, digitalised communication has been one of the only options. While this does offer a route to make friends, it is not personable. It is difficult to transmit emotions through written messages or over a video chat. Events to meet new people or find potential housemates and student-led programmes to help people settle into university life have provided a few possibilities. However, it is clear that those who started university this academic year have struggled.

In Innsbruck, it is also quite visible that emotional wellbeing has taken a hit during these times. At UIBK, the student counselling has been more sensitive to mental health-related topics noticing that students were increasingly demotivated and sad. On that matter, the ÖH (Austrian Student Union) in Innsbruck did a survey where they asked students about their mental health. Here, for example, they found out that 81% agreed or rather agreed to the statement, “I am currently listless and don’t manage to motivate myself to study very well.” And roughly 73% “agreed” or “rather agreed” to the statement that “The prospect of online lectures and virtual seminars/exercises lower my motivation to study.” And less than half say they felt happy at the moment. As of my own experience of those I heard from, many students felt like they had not much to look forward to, especially during the hard lockdown. Also, many students had to cancel their exchange programs, therefore, missing out on some valuable experiences meeting new people with different backgrounds and cultures. Although it cannot replace the scope of experiences that students would have had by studying abroad, there are possibilities to connect internationally anyways.

Aurora has helped students from multiple institutions come together across a digital space, make new friends, and form new connections. To be able to implement further the opportunity which Aurora presents for breaking traditional barriers to communication could be a great way to address the issues discussed. While we may be moving back to ‘normal’ in the UK with the lockdown easing measures, there are still students who remain away from university, or alternatively, away from their families. International students have travel bans to contend with, and some students may be shielding.

There is potential for Aurora to provide a space to help this in creating a monthly, student-led gathering where people can just talk amongst themselves about whatever they like.

Although the digital world cannot buffer the loss of embraces, it can provide us with a vast number of possibilities to create social interaction spaces. Especially for us students, it is important to discuss study matters, share ideas and perspectives, broaden our mindsets, and promote academic growth. Here, the fundamental principles of Aurora come into play because the organisation was created to help students boost each other’s potential.

Since Aurora should affect every student from every partaking Aurora University, it would be great to initiate a digital space that is free and open for every respective student. Gatherly could deliver such a space. There, among other advantages, break-out rooms can be created conveniently. When people come together to get to know and help each other out, benefits are guaranteed. From academic collaborations to tandem for language learning, everything can be achieved for engaging students. We can learn mutually, learn about other cultures and traditions, and ask for help if we need intellectual input or discover job opportunities and fields that we would not have thought of otherwise. Also, building international connections is not only useful but also important in this day and age. This is not only valuable for later professional life but also to tackle the major problems we are facing.

Of course, human connections are not only significant in professional life. We think that since the pandemic started, people have come to appreciate friendships more than before. Also, the students would welcome such a platform of exchange and would value it even after the pandemic since they have become used to this form of meeting people online.

So, this is why we see a good possibility that such a platform could be well received, and we would love to see friendships building across the barriers which the pandemic put in place, which will hopefully last beyond it.

Open Educational

Aurora partners are invited to the webinar series on Open Educational Resources starting December 14th. The series are meant to illustrate a strategic part of universities’ improvement in the sector of Open Education. The OER group wants to sensibilize teaching staff and students for Open Educational Resources. It aims to raise awareness within Aurora universities of the many possibilities that Open Educational Resources offer. OER stimulates collaboration between teachers by reusing and remixing open materials. Students can participate in developing new and open educational resources.

In the webinars, the motto “content is king” will be used to emphasize the importance of free access to content, benefits, conditions of the creation and provision of learning materials. Grab this opportunity to learn more about Open Educational Resources. These webinars will be organized in December, January, February, and March. Check out the program for more information.

To follow a webinar, click on the button below

Meeting-ID: 632 7666 4698

Password: 170896

Webinar Series in November

We may not have had the opportunity to visit all ten of the other universities, nor indeed those countries, but in the five years since Aurora began, how well do we really know our Aurora partners?

We’re all research-intensive with an international outlook, collectively supporting our students to become global entrepreneurs. But could you list the home country of each partner? Its academic strengths? Its research collaborations?

The Borderless Learning: Recognition and Mobility Group has hosted a week-long series of webinars from November 2nd to 5th, aiming to answer questions from the very basic level – why would a student choose to study there – from its campus and location to its courses, to its inclusive community. Each Aurora university will take just 60 minutes, all following a similar structure and format, to showcase itself to other Aurora universities.

Whether you’re a student, an administrative adviser or coordinator of placements, or an academic looking to strengthen your European partnerships; watch the recordings to find out more. You could just turn out to be learning about your next destination.

Get To Know Your Aurora University Study Abroad Partner Destinations – A Webinar Series for students and staff

Are you on a study abroad pathway? Interested in studying a short course abroad? Keen to experience living and learning in another part of Europe? Or helping to advise those that are? Watch as many of these eleven webinars as you like! All have been recorded. Please take a look at all the videos below and find the university of your interest.












Lively discussions with teachers at the Aurora seminar on interdisciplinary learning outcomes

At the beginning of September, Kees Kouwenaar, former Secretary-General of Aurora and specialist in the Aurora Competence Framework at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, visited the University of Iceland.

The purpose of the visit was to invite teachers and directors of academic development within the University of Iceland to become better acquainted with Aurora and discuss how the Aurora Competence Framework can support teachers in strengthening their students’ interdisciplinary skills in addition to subject-specific skills and knowledge. The seminar generated a lively discussion on how to better enable students to tackle societal challenges and diverse jobs in a dynamic and technological world, in accordance with the goals of HÍ26. Participants shared their suggestions for the continued development of the Aurora Competence Framework, which will be useful in the coming months.

Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland and Aurora President, also met with Kees. During the meeting, the successful collaboration between the University of Iceland and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in recent years was discussed, which has resulted in extensive student and staff exchanges between the universities increased internationalisation of studies and a total of 7 million euros in funding from the European Commission to deepen and strengthen the cooperation between Aurora Universities as part of the European Universities Initiative.

The Rector also congratulated Kees on his recent award from the European Association for International Education (EAIE) for his outstanding contribution to international collaboration in higher education. The EAIE is Europe’s largest forum in this field and provides a robust platform for university staff and experts to exchange new knowledge and ideas that contribute to successful internationalisation.

Kees says that the purpose of founding Aurora was exactly this, to create a solid network for European research universities with common values ​​and goals to help each other achieve even better results. “I immediately liked the idea of ​​founding Aurora because I have always felt that international collaboration should also help universities, students and teachers to make their core activities even better – not just be a nice additional thing on the side.”

Kees says the support from the European Union has helped to integrate the Aurora partnership even better into the institutional strategies and policies of the member universities. “Part of the benefits that the EU support brings us are the risks and costs associated with not achieving the results we aim for in the coming years within Aurora. The recognition from the EU has made Aurora universities more visible and garnered them great prestige both in their home countries and in Europe, and it is therefore, crucial to ensure continued EU funding for Aurora by demonstrating concrete results and impact, allowing us to maintain this prestige which can open many doors in the future”.

Regarding the development of education, Kees is convinced that Aurora will be useful to the member universities in various ways. Aurora’s motto is ‘to learn from and with each other’. Doing things together is the key vehicle for students, teachers and other university staff to learn from each other, whether through joint modules, by offering students international experiences, for example, through learning or training mobility abroad, or through staff exchanges. “

When asked what his hopes the long-term impact of the Aurora partnership and the Aurora Competency Framework will be, Kees says the answer is simple but very ambitious. “I hope that it will result in our students being equipped with not only subject-specific knowledge, but also possessing the more general skills and mindsets needed to be responsible members of society and who take the initiative in making our societies better places to live in”.


Open Aurora course at Universität Innsbruck

For the upcoming Wintersemester 2021/2022 Universität Innsbruck is offering two new courses to all Aurora partner Universities students. The application period is between 30 August and 12 September 2021.

Sustainability & Climate Change

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Be able to think critically about their own lives and situations with respect to climate change and sustainability
  • Improve their knowledge of sustainability and climate change with respect to other cultures and be able to enter into discussion on the topic with people of other cultures
  • Understand the background and structure of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Improve their knowledge of sustainable earth systems, lifestyles and mobility with respect to SDGs and be able to reflect critically with respect to their own lifestyles
  • Be able to engage with a real business and undertake a sustainability assessment for a business
  • Understand communication strategies with respect to communicating research to the public and implementing policy changes


Structure of the course (limited number of participants!)

Interactive format

The course will comprise five key components.

  1. Introduction
  2. Frontal lectures and small discussion groups on sustainability and climate change
  3. Workshop on undertaking a sustainability assessment for a business
  4. Seminars and discussions with external stakeholders on communication and policy implementation
  5. Synthesis and critical thinking of topics covered


Cultural Encounters and Conflicts: Doing Diversity in Higher Education in the Aurora European Universities Alliance (Aurora Brown Bag Lecture Series)

Learning Outcomes

Students will learn about: diversity and its use as a societal resource, different approaches to diversity studies and their application in the context of higher education, current networking initiatives of the universities within the European Universities Alliance and much more.

Structure of the course (no limitation of participants!)

Lecture series

Further information on the program and participation can be found by clicking the button below