Aurora supports letter to European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel for transparency on R&I budget allocation

Aurora Universities welcomes additional funding to the Horizon Europe (HEU) budget. Aurora Universities also support the letter by EuroTech Universities to the European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and the Director-General of Research and Innovation Jean-Eric Paquet to provide more transparency on the HEU budget. Horizon Europe is the European Union’s main funding program for Research and Innovation and a vital source of funding for researchers and innovators across Europe.

The letter argues that Horizon Europe’s current budget allocation process lacks transparency and that they are progressively becoming a financial source for other European Commission-led priorities outside of the programme. This covers the European Chips Act, the Health and Emergency Response Agency and lately, the Hydrogen Valley initiative under the REPowerEU Plan. Together, these three initiatives will be financed through HEU with a budget of close to EUR 1bn. This redirection of funds from HEU to other European Commission initiatives gives uncertainty to researchers and innovators across EU member states concerning the availability of funds. In addition, budget allocations are becoming increasingly complex, making it difficult to understand how much money is available for research.

The letter calls on the Commission to improve the transparency of Horizon Europe’s budget by adding a set of indicators to the Horizon Europe Dashboard, which can help assess in real-time how much of the HEU budget has already been committed to which initiative and how much has been paid. This would also provide visibility as to the commitments targeting the original HEU objectives or objectives outside of the programme. Read the full letter here.

Aurora workshop on “Digital nomads: living in a society of digital enterprises”

Together with the VU Amsterdam Network Institute Aurora universities central office organised the workshop on Digital Nomads – Living in a Society of Digital Employees at the Neth-ER premises in Brussels on 14 June 2022. The workshop addressed how society, employers and employees may deal with the new way of working in the digital society, and how to contribute from a scientific perspective. It has been attended by policy-makers from the European Commission, 12 scientists from Aurora universities and its central office and three people representating employees, policy making and digital nomads.


Background: The Covid-19 pandemic has inspired an increasing number of employees to work from a different country where their organisation is located. There are several structural factors in society that may further spur the number of digital nomads in Europe, such as an increased desire among employees for autonomy and flexibility in balancing professional and private life, and the advent of digital technologies and intermediary companies that enable a nomadic lifestyle. The digital nomads trend provides scientists, strategists and policy-makers with new technological, organisational, legal, ethical, economical and socio-cultural challenges.

 

Question: How can current and future research provide input to strategies and policies, and vice versa?
Aim: The aim of this workshop was to bundle expertise from ambitious and excellent scientists from various disciplines to discuss challenges related to digital nomads with European policy-makers, and provide directions for the European Commission’s Research & Innovation programs.


Results: Certain actions have been identified that are needed from policy-makers and scientists. This will result in a white paper and policy input for the European Commission. The workshop also aimed to foster new contacts between researchers and policy-makers from the European Commission and to provide opportunities for research collaborations. The academic attendees expressed their interest to create an Aurora network of experts related to this topic.

Aurora is growing

It is with great pleasure that we welcome a new university, Université Paris-Est Créteil, to the Aurora European University. At the Aurora 2022 Spring Biannual in Innsbruck, Aurora President Jón Atli Benediktsson and President of the Université Paris-Est Créteil, Jean-Luc Dubois-Randé signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), expressing their mutual intent to establish a strong and deep collaboration through the activities of the Aurora European University Alliance. Additionally, we are also very pleased to announce that, after having been an associate member of the Aurora Network, Palacký University Olomouc will become a full member of the Aurora Network.  

We are delighted that Université Paris-Est Créteil is joining the Aurora Alliance; first, as an associate partner of the current activities and thereafter as a full member in the next funding bid. The objectives and visions of both Aurora and the Université Paris-Est Créteil are closely aligned and we are very much looking forward to working together on common substantive issues, thereby strengthening our institutions, contributing to the local communities we serve, and bringing us closer to achieving the aims of the European Universities Initiative.

After the signing of the MoU, Jean-Luc Dubois-Randé said, “It is a great pleasure, and I am honoured to be with you today. We feel very comfortable with [Aurora], because we have the same values […]. Diversity is not a problem, it is a richness, and [Aurora] has the same perspective. […] We will be on board [in Aurora] very quickly and very seriously.”

At the Biannual, the Aurora Presidents also voted in favour of Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic) becoming a full member of the Aurora Network. Palacký, already a full member of the Aurora European University Alliance, was welcomed and congratulated by the Aurora Presidents. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest university in Moravia and the second-oldest university in the Czech Republic, and it is one of the most important Central European centres of education and research. As the Aurora lead on the Capacity Development Support Programme and more recently the lead on the workaround acute aid for Aurora’s Ukrainian partner university, Karazin Kharkiv University, Palacký University Olomouc’s expertise and commitment to Aurora have made it an invaluable member, and we are excited about this opportunity for even closer collaboration, moving forward.

Vice-Rector for Strategy and Regional Affairs and UP’s Aurora Strategic Manager Michal Malacka said, “We are very pleased to have become a full Aurora Network member after one and a half years of intense Aurora Alliance collaboration. We are grateful to all who have paved the way and made this possible, and a personal thank you to all the Aurora Presidents for their vote of confidence. We are keen to deepen our partnership even further and work together on innovative education, research, and sustainable growth.”

Aurora Secretary-General, Anne-May Janssen, Vice-Rector for Strategy and Regional Affairs, Michal Malacka, and Aurora President Jón Atli Benediktsson
President of the Université Paris-Est Créteil, Jean-Luc Dubois-Randé, and Aurora President, Jón Atli Benediktsson, after signing the MoU

The Aurora Spring Innsbruck Biannual: Taking stock and looking toward the future

The 2022 Aurora Spring Biannual took place last week in Innsbruck, Austria, with a record number of participants in attendance. Over 180 participants, from both Aurora universities as well as university participants beyond Europe, joined this event. The main focus of the 2022 Spring Biannual was to take stock of the main achievements and challenges of the first half of the European Universities Initiative programme, while at the same time to take the first steps towards preparing for the second funding bid.

Hosted by the University of Innsbruck, the Aurora 2022 Spring Biannual took place on May 10-12. Tilmann Märk, Rector of the Universität Innsbruck, and Aurora President Jón Atli Benediktsson opened the Biannual with words of welcome. Rector Tilmann Märk specifically addressed Rector Tetyana Kaganovska of the National V.N. Karazin University Kharkiv, an associate member of the Aurora Alliance, who travelled all the way from Ukraine to join the Biannual. Professor Märk spoke about her bravery and the bravery of the Ukrainian nation, and expressed Aurora’s support for her, her staff and students by saying: “I dearly hope that we as the Aurora community can make a positive contribution to your fight against the current atrocities of war in your home country.” Read more about our support for Karazin at the Biannual (and beyond) here.

Sabine Allain Sainte‐Rose, Aurora Programme Director, gave an overview of the Alliance programme’s mid-term achievements. Over a period of 18 months, Aurora has increased its workforce capacity and improved engagement at a central and institutional level. As a result of the hard work and dedication, the programme achieved a spectacular 91% of the 160 deliverables envisioned for this period. In addition, there have been more than 4.000 participations by students and staff members in over 140 Alliance opportunities. Highlights of our achievements include:

  • Six Aurora partner universities signed a letter of intent to develop a two-year joint European Masters Programme on Digital Society and Global Citizenship. The programme will be multi- and transdisciplinary, not only restricted to Computer Science and AI, but include cross-cutting topics such as algorithms and bias in judgment and decision-making, artificial intelligence, ethics, and fair digital ecosystems and platforms
  • The launch of the new Aurora website and Virtual Campus
  • The vision of the future student population, making sure our universities’ student populations represent the diverse communities our universities serve, and
  • The presentation of the Aurora Student Handbook by Aurora Student Council President Alma Ágústsdóttir, designed to ensure more sustainable engagement by students in our activities

Looking more toward the future and the next funding call, which will open in the autumn of 2022, Anne-May Janssen, Aurora Secretary-General, talked about the need for a sustainable Aurora, both in terms of integrated structures as well as funding. The next call will look to the European Universities to demonstrate that they create institutionalised cooperation with sustainable impact. Anne-May Janssen said that Aurora needs to look at the objectives of the next call and critically reflect on how they fit within Aurora and Aurora biannual innsbruck 2022 higher education researchmake sure we continue to work on the issues that members are passionate about to ensure a long-lasting partnership.

During the two-day conference, staff from all the Aurora members gathered to discuss and work on their respective work packages, such as Social Transformation, Academic Collaboration, Borderless Learning, Capacity Development Support, Sustainability, Quality Management, and many more.

Letter of Intent signed by six Aurora institutional representatives
President Aurora Student Council, Alma Ágústsdóttir hands over the Aurora Student Handbook to Aurora President Jón Atli Benediktsson

For an impression of the conference, you can find more photographs below.

Copyright: © Birgit Pichler

Aurora Universities’ support for partner university in Ukraine

At the Aurora 2022 Spring Biannual in Innsbruck, Aurora President Jón Atli Benediktsson and Rector of the University of Innsbruck, Tilmann Märk, presented a cheque of €51,000 to Rector Tetyana Kaganovska of the National V.N. Karazin University Kharkiv, an Aurora Alliance associate member, in support of her university during these difficult times, to help fund the purchase of equipment that will allow university staff to continue teaching remotely, as means to show resistance during this war. Rector Tetyana Kaganovska gave a moving speech on how her university and city are navigating this new reality and focused on what is needed to continue education remotely in Ukraine.

The University of Kharkiv is an Associate Partner of the Aurora European University as part of the Aurora Capacity Development Support Programme, which drives cooperation between the Aurora members and Central and Eastern European universities. From the start of the war in Ukraine, Aurora universities have been offering its assistance, both directly to staff and students, as well as through financial support.

Many university buildings of Karazin Kharkiv University have been bombed and destroyed by the Russian military. Ukrainian professors and students are continuing their education in basements and bunkers under dire circumstances. In her statement, Rector Kaganovska shared:

At the moment, we are living through the most difficult moments since Ukrainian independence. I come as a witness to the war, the killings and the displacement of my co-workers and students. In moments like these, I feel especially honoured to be able to personally represent our Kharkiv Karazin University community from eastern Ukraine.”

The workaround for the acute aid for Karazin Kharkiv University is led by Palacký University Olomouc and supported by the Aurora Central Office in Amsterdam. People from Kharkiv who have fled Ukraine are now able to work in Olomouc.

In her press statement, Rector Kaganovska shared that.

“Our University is a consolidated team of 28,000 employees and students, proud of their educational institution’s 217-year history. According to the QS rating, we are the best Ukrainian university, the country’s powerhouse of educational and scientific resources. The University is the heart of Kharkiv, and it remains in Kharkiv, despite the city’s being shelled and numerous attempts of siege lasting for 77 days. We were able to shelter the University’s staff and students as best we could and launched the educational process remotely on the 33rd day of the war.”

If you are interested in supporting Karazin Kharkiv University, please check out the links below:

  • Donating funds to Karazin Kharkiv University is still possible and can be done here.
  • Support Programme and Aurora’s actions to aid Karazin Kharkiv National University.
  • Read the full press statement by Tetyana Kaganovska, President of V.N Karazin Kharkiv University, on the occasion of her participation in the Aurora Biannual Spring Meeting 2022 Innsbruck.

Exciting Hybrid Workshop about Generation Z and Co-engaging your Student Communities

Would you like to learn more about Gen Z while addressing them with different information at your institutions?

Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, refers to the youngest generation born between 1996 and 2010. After finishing their studies, they will enter the workforce and become a leading and influential part of society. Together with Strateggo, a Prague-based Strategic Marketing Agency, Palacký University conducted an extensive survey in November 2021 and shared the findings that can be relevant to all Aurora universities, working on the co-engagement of their young student communities.

The workshop on Generation Z with Mr Císař from Strateggo was held on May 12 from 10:00-12:00 in a hybrid form at Palacký University Olomouc.

More about the event here

Capacity Development Support (CDS) Awareness Raising and Training event at University of Tetova, North Macedonia

The event was organized in collaboration with the Aurora CDS Task Team at Palacky University (UP) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). The event’s central theme was: “Transforming Higher Education with a focus on Social entrepreneurship & Diversity and inclusion”. The two-day training event was in a hybrid format: online via Zoom and face-to-face at UT campus in Tetova. The event was open to academic and non-academic staff of the Associate university partners and members of the broader CDS Network involved in teaching, students’ mobility, internationalisation of study programmes and university social engagement.

Training on social entrepreneurship was conducted online by Prof. Kai Hockerts (Copenhagen Business School) and Dr. Ondřej Kročil and Prof. Jaroslava Kubátová (Palacky University Olomouc). Diversity and inclusion was presented in person by Prof. Ruard Ganzevoort (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).

The training sessions were video-recorded and made available together with all training materials through the AURORA-CDS virtual catalogue: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1lUMjCSIOUHjvfdhDrl8EWG37ciRvhEV-?usp=sharing.

 

Aurora and OpenAIRE join forces on Open Science and SDGs

We proudly announce the joining of forces between Aurora and OpenAIRE. This collaboration will make Open Science more accessible for Aurora scientists and demonstrate the societal impact of research with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The OpenAIRE-Nexus consortium and  Aurora have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Both will collaborate to map research output to the SDGs and provide new functionalities like SDG-oriented discovery and statistics on Open Science and learn from each other.

In this collaboration, Aurora will offer the  Aurora SDG text classification service that enables everyone to map academic texts in multiple European languages to the SDGs. A website (concept) where you can insert the abstract of your research paper, and it returns the predicted values of how much this abstract is related to the 17 SDGs, based on a multilingual AI. Additionally, it generates an SDG doughnut with the relative SDG predictions, and it can be used as a badge along with a research paper.

OpenAIRE will offer a CONNECT Gateway, a portal for Aurora Universities, as a single entry-point to all academic publications, data sets, research projects, software and other research outputs of the Aurora universities. In addition, the OpenAIRE MONITOR Dashboard will offer insight into the uptake of Open Science practices and the SDG related research.

OpenAIRE and Aurora will enhance their training material and courses: Aurora will include OpenAIRE services like Amnesia for data anonymisation, Argos for data management, Zenodo for data deposition, and EpiScience for setting up Open Access journals in its training courses on Open Science practices; OpenAIRE will exploit the program and outputs of the Aurora Open Science project to improve the documentation and training on the services of the Nexus portfolio.

“I’m delighted that Aurora has joined forces with OpenAire. Collaborating with OpenAire will help increase the visibility of our contribution towards the sustainable development goals and societal impact of our universities.”

Jón Atli Benediktsson – Aurora President, Rector University of Iceland

“Our collaboration with Aurora opens up new paths for OpenAIRE to work hand in hand with universities that integrate open science in their daily workflows while matching their world-class academic excellence and societal engagement goals.”

Natalia Manola – CEO OpenAIRE

About Aurora: Aurora is a partnership of like-minded and closely collaborating research-intensive European universities that use their academic excellence to drive societal change and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.

About OpenAIRE-Nexus: The Horizon 2020 OpenAIRE-Nexus project, a consortium of 11 partners, brings to Europe, EOSC and the world a set of services to implement and accelerate Open Science and tools to embed in researchers’ workflows, making it easier for them to accept and uptake Open Science practices of openness and FAIRness.

Time to register to the 2022 Spring School in Transferable Skills!

Are you thinking about the next step in your career? This 2-day online Spring School in Transferable Skills will focus on developing skills in grant and CV writing and how to get a faculty position. The school will provide the participants with an overview of the breadth of interviews that can be expected on your interview journey and will provide a space to practise interview questions. Also, topics such as team management, public engagement, gender equality and communication in academia and research will be discussed.

The Spring School is free and will be held online on Zoom on the 4th and 5th of May 2022. The School is open to all Aurora universities’ undergraduate, master and PhD students from the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) area.

To register, please email internationalfarmacia@unina.it by the 1st of May. A link to the event will be sent to all participants.

For more information, please download the School flyer.

Applications open for exciting Intensive Field Course in Iceland!

Practical training in the use of geospatial technologies in hazard research and response 

This Aurora-supported intensive graduate-level field course is offered by of the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies of the University of Iceland, in collaboration with colleagues from the UI Science Institute and Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic.
Graduate students from Aurora universities are encouraged to apply, especially those with a background in human or physical geography, geology, environmental sciences or environmental engineering. Applicants are expected to have some basic knowledge of geographic information systems.

The course provides students a first-hand experience with state-of-the-art geospatial technologies that are becoming important for both basic research and practical response planning in locations exposed to natural hazards. The focus is on two methodological innovations, understanding physical processes that contribute to landslide hazards and enabling meaningful participation of local publics in hazard research and response.

The course gives students the chance to explore Icelandic nature, gain a practical experience in the field, and to work on projects in international teams.

Download the flyer for more information!

Intensive Field Course in Iceland