Aurora is defined by both the shared values of its members and by the activities they undertake. Aurora started with the launch of the network in 2016. In the first phase of our collaboration, Aurora strategically prioritised maximising societal impact of research, strengthening diversity and inclusion, and using student engagement to drive innovation in teaching and learning. This resulted in a doubling of student and staff mobility across Aurora and a doubling of levels of research-based collaboration between members.
Aurora received a significant boost in 2020 when it became one of the 41 European University alliances. As such, we receive financial support from the European Commission through the Erasmus+ and the Horizon2020 Programme. The Aurora European University programme is the result of the shared ambition and endeavour of our students, academics, university leaders, and administrators.
The main goal of Aurora is to support our teachers in equipping their students with the skills and mindset needed for our graduates to thrive in a rapidly changing society and labour market and to turn them into social entrepreneurs and innovators, willing and able to contribute to solving the major challenges of our societies.
To achieve this, Aurora will develop shared education principles and frameworks that enable deeper cooperation between Aurora universities. This includes, but is not limited to, an Aurora “inter-university campus” where students and staff can move between the universities, physically or virtually, to learn, teach, train, research, cooperate and facilitate the delivery of joint courses and degrees that support the Aurora vision.
This is crucial to maximise the positive societal impact of Aurora Universities and is fully aligned with emerging international higher education policies, as demonstrated for example by the 2020 joint declaration of the 49 Ministers responsible for higher education in the European Higher Education Area. This vision is also strongly supported by the Aurora Student Council and a core value of Aurora is to listen to our students and involve them in our work.
Through the programme, we will help students develop the competences that allow them to make an impact and a difference in the world. The Aurora vision is reflected in the four domains of the programme:
We want our student population to reflect as much as possible our rich and diverse societies. We aim to offer each student, regardless of background, a meaningful international experience. In all the different work areas of the Aurora European University programme, we aim to enhance the student experience.
For a brief overview of the different work areas of the Aurora European University programme, see below:
The Aurora Competence Framework (ACF) offers diverse tools to help academic teachers to articulate learning outcomes and to integrate those in their regular classes. It helps them to assess the actual development of the identified competences. The ACF reflects the Aurora Education Vision: the vision that says that we must equip our students with not just the subject expertise, but also the broader skills and mindsets to contribute to society. Thus, the ACF consists of three components that have distinct, but complementary and synergistic impacts:
LOUIS (Learning Outcomes in Universities for Impact on Society) is a teaching & learning development tool for general academic and (intra)personal competences. LOUIS uses the VALUE approach of the AACU (American Association of Colleges and Universities) and adapts it for Aurora. It aims for curricular embedding of a broad range of competences beyond subject expertise.
SEISMIC (Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Scales: Measuring Increase in Competence) is an Aurora-made measuring tool that has a specific focus on competences needed to social entrepreneurship & innovation.
BEVI (Beliefs, Events, Values Inventory) is an accessible, adaptable, and powerful analytic tool that can be used in a wide range of settings, from education and research to leadership and mental health – to understand and facilitate processes and outcomes of learning, growth, and transformation. It is currently in use in Aurora to better understand and handle the diversity of students in terms of their fundamental beliefs and attitudes that influence their learning.
Improve and extend the use of service-learning and international internships as specific Aurora pedagogical methods contributing to skills/values development.
Train academics and support staff in the use of service-learning and internships to enhance the development of students’ skills, attitudes, and behavioural intentions.
Make our student population reflect the talent in the communities we serve, without under-representation of any groups in our population.
Create an Aurora Education Area with ease of mobility for all.
Set up the Aurora Open Educational Resources platform.
To understand and overcome mobility and recognition obstacles students may encounter in their mobility across Aurora.
Open existing language-learning opportunities to Aurora students and staff.
Test and implement our innovations in competences, mobility opportunities, and addressing the SDG perspective in all programmes in the four domains: Sustainability & Climate Change; Digital Society & Global Citizenship; Health & Well-being; and Culture: Diversity & Identity.
Systematically equip and support academics in teaching for societal impact in areas such as skills & mindset, international experience, diverse classrooms and addressing the SDGs.
Strengthen the evidence base of Aurora education with big data analysis.
Through the European Universities Initiative, the European Commission has presented an ambitious long-term vision to build the universities of the future. The European Universities Initiative aims to equip a new generation of Europeans, willing and able to work together on the biggest societal challenges, in different languages, and across borders, sectors and academic disciplines.
The European Universities Initiative may bring about structural, systemic and sustainable change in two ways:
Deepening the way universities pursue their missions in education, research and innovation while making service to society central to their missions; and
Allowing the participating universities to serve as role models for other higher education institutions in Europe, create a strong positive impetus for transformation across the entire sector.