Group: For Academics

Martin Procházka Elected as New Aurora President

Martin Procházka, Rector of Palacký University Olomouc, has been elected to be the new Aurora president by the Aurora General Council during the Aurora Spring Biannual 2024. He takes over from Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, who has held the position of Aurora President for the past four years.

Following the general council’s decision, Jón Atli Benediktsson passed on the torch in the public handover ceremony during the Biannual.  During this ceremony, Rector Procházka presented his predecessor with a vase made of Bohemian crystal to thank him for his service. “Jón Atli, this gift is not only a token of our friendship, but also a symbol of your excellent work for Aurora. Bohemian crystal, renowned for its exquisite craftsmanship, shines with the combination of tradition and innovation that we strive for at Aurora and reflects our commitment to excellence in education and research,” said Procházka.

In his acceptance speech, he emphasised that in his role as President, he wants to give the universities and all members of the community space for expression and the opportunity to shape the future Aurora and highlighted students as a key element in his vision of Aurora. “The students’ enthusiasm and their ideas are a great inspiration to us all. As President, I will aim to continue working to create a student-oriented and inclusive environment,” underlined Procházka.

Martin Procházka is the first Aurora President elected under a new system of rotating Aurora presidency. By unanimous decision of the Aurora General Council, the Aurora Presidency will rotate between the member universities. This system, inspired by the rotating EU-presidency, will allow all Aurora universities to leave their mark on Aurora’s policy and strategic decision-making.

In this system, the general council elects a rector  to serve on the Aurora board as  president-elect one year prior to them taking the mantle of Aurora President for a one-year tenure. After this year, they stay on the Aurora Board for one more year as Past President, to ensure continuity of governance.

Sustainability & Climate Change Hub Advances Micro-credentials Initiative

At the Aurora Spring Biannual 2024 hosted by University Federico II in Naples, involving task teams 2.1 “Establishing the Hub for Sustainability & Climate Change” and 2.5 “Coordination of joint education and joint accreditation”, marked a significant step forward to discuss micro-credentials, and make flexible and individual learning paths a reality within Aurora.

A major highlight was the near-finalisation of the much-anticipated document, “Guidelines for Setting Up Aurora Micro-credentials.” During the collaborative discussion on the guidelines draft, several key points were highlighted: 

  • Further Modifications and Provisional Decisions: Members discussed potential changes and provisional decisions, planning to forward these to other task teams and the Vice-Rectors of Education (VRE). 
  • Quality Assurance and Implementation: Each institution is responsible for quality assurance, teaching, and assessment of the micro-credentials, but institutions must agree upon joint implementation, coordinated processes and issuance. 
  • Innovative Methods: The importance of innovative teaching methods that guarantee active student participation and are recognized by employers and society was highlighted. 
  • Learning outcomes: The relevance of learning outcomes and their valid verification was reaffirmed, as was the use of the different Aurora Competence Framework tools. 
  • Branding Strategy: A strong branding strategy is needed to make micro-credentials attractive and popular among students. 

The quote “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time” by Leonard Bernstein resonates profoundly. Thus, following the discussion on the draft document and potential future issues, both task teams established a timeline for final feedback and approval.

Members of  task teams 2.1 and 2.5 agreed to respond to the draft within two months. The final version will then be sent to the board of Vice-Rectors for Education. Additionally, the “Guidelines for Setting Up Aurora Micro-credentials” have been sent to task team 6.1 Aurora IT Development & Services to discuss IT processes for shared student data and future perspectives on digital issuing. 

Aurora Students’ Round Table Highlights Student Participation in Aurora  

During the Aurora Spring Biannual hosted by the University Federico II of Naples, the Aurora Student Council (ASC) organised the Aurora Students’ Round Table plenary session, an opportunity for the ASC members to review the major projects of their year within the council and discuss the status of student participation in Aurora.  

The plenary session was chaired by Hanuš Patera, former President of the ASC, accompanied by two members of the Council Nana-Kirstine Bruhn Rasmussen and Sören Daehn, as well as Alma Ágústsdóttir and Niels Hexspoor, who leads the activities on Aurora Student Support and Engagement, and the Aurora Student Community (Work Package 7). Part of the Aurora Students’ Round Table session focused on the students’ work in 2023-2024.

Panelists reminded the audience that the ASC members are only present for one year, which is not enough time to realise all their projects. Thus, the ASC members presented a strategic document containing several goals to be achieved for future members of the council. These goals include:

  • Creation of a social media communication plan.
  • Presence of members of the council at all Aurora events.
  • Increase in the number of in-person meetings.
Sören Daehn, Copenhagen Business School
Alma Ágústsdóttir, University of Iceland
Niels Hexspoor, Palacký University Olomouc
Nana Bruhn Rasmussen, University of Iceland

Diversity and Inclusion Moving Forward

Hanuš further addressed the topic of diversity and inclusion. Indeed, the ASC chooses a topic on which it proposes that Aurora universities could improve by the year end. The council highlighted four areas for improvement:  

  • Collaborating closer with institutional student parliaments, to strengthen the presence of Aurora students in the university’s decision-making process.  
  • Establishing the position of equality officer, or thematic equality days, that would result in a concrete equality plan to follow, beyond just recommendations.  
  • Responding to the problems of people with disabilities by providing easier information, or the creation of a support checklist. 
  • Offering diversity education for new staff so that they know the support available to respond to these problems. 

The Aurora Student Ambassador Programme

Subsequently, the panel discussed the participation of students in Aurora, based on the existing Student Ambassador programme that allows them to participate in Aurora’s various task teams. The first three questions focused on how to include students in task teams. They also addressed the biggest obstacles to developing the Student Ambassador programme properly. Most participants emphasised that student participation should be implemented better and more broadly.  

Sören Daehn explained that, the ambassador programme allows for a win-win situation where students can develop international skills and task team leaders benefit from a different viewpoint within their team. He stressed that students do not participate in the programme to join inactive task teams. Therefore, the biggest obstacles in setting up the programme are finding the right way to include students in task teams. The panelists also touched on the fact that students feel overworked, as they must attend classes, work, have a social life, and get involved in associations at their universities, leaving little time for participation in Aurora. 

The last two questions posed the problem of recognition and rewards for the student’s work. The topic of financial compensation to student ambassadors was challenging due to strict budgetary constraints within Aurora universities. Despite this fact, the panel agreed that fair recognition should be in place for all students’ activities, in order to promote student participation in Aurora more seriously.  

The panel concluded that currently the Student Ambassador programme is not sufficiently developed to allow student participation in all task teams. However, in the long term, it would be ideal to have meaningful student representation across all task teams to ensure Aurora’s activities also meet the expectations of its students. 

Shaping the Path Forward at the Aurora Spring Biannual 2024

Between the 27th and 30th of May, the Aurora community gathered in the historic city of Naples for the Aurora Spring Biannual, hosted by the University Federico II of Naples (UNINA). This biannual combined a historic perspective with Aurora’s transition into its exciting new phase

This year’s biannual event offered the Aurora community a chance to celebrate the 800th anniversary of UNINA, placing Aurora’s ambitions in a grand historical context. The 800th anniversary of UNINA served as a powerful reminder of the importance and transformative potential of our universities. By situating Aurora’s contemporary aims within this historical framework, the biannual meeting in Naples not only celebrated the past but also inspired the Aurora community to continue shaping a better society through collaboration in education and research.

The event covered a range of thought-provoking topics. The plenary sessions featured panels on Joint Education Programs, Stakeholder Engagement, and Student Matters. These were complemented by inspiring talks on Citizen Science and Participatory Democracy that sparked new thoughts and initiatives. Aurora also reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable development, with Aurora’s universities signing a Common Footprint Reduction Plan. This joint commitment is key to making our universities greener and more environmentally sustainable. 

Another highlight of the event was the Presidency Handover. This was an opportunity to thank the University of Iceland Rector Jón Atli Benediktsson, for his tenure as Aurora President. Jón Atli proceeded to pass the torch to the Rector of Palacký University Olomouc, Martin Procházka. Martin wants to continue working closely with our students during his time at the helm: “It will be my goal to continue working on creating a student-centred and inclusive environment within Aurora, where students are truly heard.” 

Work packages and task teams also had time to convene. In these in-depth meetings, our task teams could discuss all our specific activities and develop them further. In addition, the biannual featured workshops on topics such as seizmic, Peer-Learning and Vulnerability.  

As the biannual came to a close, we looked forward to next year’s biannual, which will be organised by the Université Paris Est Créteil (UPEC). We also looked back at a great Spring Biannual that allowed us to appreciate all that Aurora has achieved so far, as well as the exciting journey ahead.

Relive the biannual below:

Photo Gallery:




Join the First Series of Aurora Peace Talks

Join us from September for the first series of Aurora Peace Talks. This lecture series will feature talks by our colleagues from Kharkiv and beyond, and allows them to share their experiences and expertise.

Kharkiv city is one of Ukraine’s most important economic and industrial centres and the second biggest educational center in Ukraine,  known as the city of students and youth.  About 300 000 students (12 000 foreign ones) found their home in one of the Kharkiv’s 11 universities and 38 higher educational institutions, including both public and private universities, academies and specialized institutes.

The city and the region have since 2022 come under heavy attack as one of the initial targets of Russia’s invasion. The city and the region have been bravely fighting off the aggression.

In the last month the city has been experiencing yet another wave of  heavy attacks, with random bombardments of civilian object causing civilian casualties, evacuations and displacements of several thousand of its residents.

Given the location of the city and Khakriv region, the situation for its citizens will remain precarious for a long time ahead. In Aurora, we have been working dedicatedly to provide much needed support, especially to our partners at Karazin Khakriv National University.

The speakers in this lecture series come from Karazin University, but also other universities in Khakriv, as we want  to provide platform for their voices to be heard in these most challenging of times. This first series in particular features talks from Kharkiv Scholars at Risk at Copenhagen Business School.

The Peace Talks lecture series allows our colleagues to speak out, share their experiences but also their expertise as academics in addressing the devastation and future post-war recovery and peace building needs.

Support them by joining the following inspiring Talks, starting form September this year:

  • Between Copenhagen and Kharkiv researching resilience
    • 26th of September 2024, 15.00 CET | Serhii Prokopenko, MSc
    • Zoom Link
  • Energy communities as the key for Ukraine’s energy security
    • 17th of October 2024, 15.00 CET | Albina Dioba, Ph.D.
    • Zoom Link
  • Becoming Part of a Community: The Process of Ukraine’s Accession to the European Union
    • 4th of November 2024, 15.00 CET | Assoc. Prof. Manuele Citi
    • Zoom Link
  • Public Discourse and Academic Research in Representing People Under Occupation: Are war-caused conflicts transformable?
    • 16th of December 2024, 15.00 CET | Prof. Yuliia Soroka, Ph.D.
    • Zoom Link

Aurora Peace Talks – Programme

This lecture series is organized by the Aurora Karazin Peace Education Hub of Work Package 7. For more information on the Aurora Peace Talks lecture series, contact Selma Porobic.

Aurora Staff Training in Ohrid Equips Academics for International Teaching

On 18 April, the first Aurora Capacity Development Staff Training took place in Ohrid, North Macedonia. In a bid to enhance global learning opportunities, the COIL Staff Training aimed to empower educators with the necessary tools and knowledge to implement Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL).

This event is the first in a series of trainings, organised within the framework of Aurora’s Capacity Development Programme. These are organized by Palacky University Olomouc and VU Amsterdam, together with Aurora associate partners. The aim of these training events is twofold. First, we aim to strengthen the capacity of the Aurora associate partner universities for academic excellence and societal relevance. Second, we support them in establishing themselves as regional hubs for sharing best practices.

Bringing together a group of 30 participants, mainly from the University of Tetova and South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, the Aurora Ohrid Staff Training marks a significant step towards fostering cross-cultural educational collaboration. Led by COIL expert Marina Vives from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, the workshop offered participating academics a deep dive into the utilisation of COIL, opening the doors to internationalise their curriculum together with other Aurora universities.

The training started with an icebreaker exercise, an important best practice when setting up a COIL. Then, Marina introduced the participants to the concept of COIL, and shared more best practices. The participants were then divided into groups and encouraged to start building a COIL course on their own. In a short time, the participants created promising, interdisciplinary COIL course concepts. The participants were excited to develop these concepts further and put them into practice.

Preceded by meetings between Aurora representatives and the management of the University of Tetova, the event set the stage for future collaborations. The staff training event empowered our associate partners to unlock their international potential through COIL. Through this initial step, they will be able to further develop the internationalisation of their institutions.

Looking Back at the Aurora Fall Biannual 2023

On October 17th and 18th, Palacký University Olomouc, located in Olomouc, Czechia, hosted the Aurora Fall Biannual 2023. The event served as a unifying platform, bringing together more than 200 participants from 18 universities within the Aurora community and beyond.

The Fall Biannual event centred around reflecting on Aurora’s notable accomplishments as a part of the European Universities initiative. These European developments took centre stage in the plenary sessions and panels:

  1. Aurora Pilot Phase: Aurora Model Alliance?
  2. The impact and role of European Universities on the future of Higher Education in Europe
  3. Alliance Exchange – Balancing Education, Research Innovation and Social Responsibility
  4. Toward student-centred European University Alliances

Rector Tetyana Kaganovska, who was a panel member during the Aurora Model Alliance plenary session, underscored the belief of the Aurora community in Karazin Kharkiv University. This confidence breathed new life into their commitment to advancing online education. The message “our colleagues believe in us” ignites a glimmer of hope, inspiring their community to persevere and celebrate even the smallest triumphs.

Aurora’s commitment to sustainability was also highlighted during the event, with an opening presentation and plenary session dedicated to Aurora’s work on making our community greener and more sustainable.

Collaboration within Aurora was further strengthened by the momentous signing of a Memorandum of understanding on the sharing of research infrastructure, as well as the signing of the second version of the Multilateral Aurora Mobility Agreement (MAMA).







Next to the retrospective of Aurora’s remarkable accomplishments, the Aurora community came together to look forward to the exciting prospects that lie ahead. Participants also engaged in thought-provoking Thematic sessions on prominent Aurora topics such as COIL, the Aurora Competence Framework, and Technology Transfer.  

Want to relive the biannual or catch up on any sessions you missed? You can watch the recordings of the plenary sessions below:

🎥 17/10/2023 –  Day 1

🎥 18/10/2023 –  Day 2

The full photo gallery of the biannual can be downloaded here.

Aurora’s MoU on Sharing Infrastructure and Resources paves the way for research collaboration

Aurora Fall Biannual 2023 witnessed a momentous occasion on October 17th, with the Aurora Research Infrastructure and Resources Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing. This event marked a significant commitment to research collaboration among thirteen esteemed Aurora universities, including the Aurora Associate partners and Université Paris-Est Créteil.

The purpose of the MoU is twofold. Firstly, it serves as a definitive statement of intent from partner universities to engage in research cooperation, with a specific focus on Aurora’s mission and pilot domains. By doing so, it aims to facilitate seamless access to shared resources for researchers within the alliance. Secondly, these universities aim to fortify their global research standing by working closely together. By promoting international cooperation across a diverse range of research areas, they aspire to exchange research resources and data with fellow research groups.

This collaborative endeavour not only underscores the commitment of Aurora Universities to advance research but also showcases their determination to foster a richer culture of global research collaboration.







For those interested in exploring the MoU in detail, a publicly accessible version is available here. This document showcases the commitment of universities to research collaboration and global knowledge sharing. Access the MoU

Aurora welcomes its universities to contribute their research infrastructure resources. By sharing resources and knowledge, you enrich your institution and engage with a global community of research excellence. Ready to join this collaborative effort? Add your research infrastructure resources here.

Linguistic diversity, intercultural competences & European identity: and Aurora Blended Intensive Program for Europe to come

25 participants from 4 European universities with over 22 languages spoken. Students, teachers, and staff were working together towards a common goal: to train and discuss European linguistic and cultural plurality and the development of intercultural skills. In the background Naples and the Mediterranean Sea, its cultures, its languages.

The Aurora Blended Intensive Programme (BIP) Erasmus+ “Linguistic diversity, intercultural competences & European identity”, was carried out in mid-September to educate teachers, students, and staff for a plurilingual and intercultural Europe. BIPs are blended intensive programs of study and research. The BIP is coordinated by the University Federico II (UNINA) in partnership with the Innsbruck Universität (UIBK), the Universitat Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona (URV), and the Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci (UPOL), was designed as part of the Aurora programme activities and financed with Erasmus+ European funds.

The four thematic sessions addressed the topics of European political identity, European multilingualism, the educational methodologies of linguistic ethnography, and the development of intercultural competencies in multilingual education and training.

The topic of European political identity was addressed in two seminars by Alessandro Arienzo (UNINA), designed to understand how our recent history and culture have shaped our ideas of Europe and how Europe as an idea is the result of stratified historical and political paths closely connected to social and individual experiences. The concept of European multilingualism was addressed in two workshops by Ulrike Jessner-Schmid (UIBK) in which the participants, working in groups, by expressing their linguistic portraits, experienced how their prior (multi)linguistic knowledge can help them in learning a new language or decoding texts in other languages. Two workshops by Lidia Gallego-Balsa (URV) dealt with the topics of pedagogical translanguaging and linguistic ethnography as a tool for developing competencies in an additional foreign language. Finally, intercultural competencies were the subject of three workshops by Markus Öbrink (UPOL) with the aim of discussing intercultural communication and conflict mediation. The group developed a common intercultural basis by practising techniques such as asking questions, listening effectively, communicating clearly, and anticipating conflicts.

Participants were engaged in the co-creation of workshop activities, as well as in small group activities and plenary discussions. All activities were based on teamwork and challenge-based: the participants, divided into groups, tried to tackle specific problems through discussion and debate. The educational experience was enriched by participating in the Erasmus Welcome Day organised by UNINA with a visit to the Paleontological University Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Morra Greco Art Foundation.

With an outstanding 90% of participants responding to be “highly satisfied” with the activities, and willing to continue in some for the experience, and an overall 80% “satisfied” rate for each of the workshops, this Blended Intensive Program was a success!


Some comments from the participants:

“The event with the Aurora community was an unforgettable experience. I have learned a variety of new things and skills, both for my professional and my personal development”;

“I will forever be grateful for the many new things I have been able to learn, the people I have met, and all of the great moments lived in this city”;

“Participating in the Blending Intensive Program was a wonderful experience for me. The program’s discussion approach was excellent, and I learned a lot from it. I am now even more motivated to continue researching multilingualism after completing my PhD studies. The BIP program enhanced my understanding of how multilingualism can be beneficial and provide social and cognitive advantages to those who speak multiple languages”;

“This ensured that the course met my expectations of a course focused on Linguistic diversity, intercultural competencies & European identity. It also exceeded my expectations in many ways in terms of meeting new people and learning methods from other universities”;

“Meeting students and professors from different universities and getting to know their opinions on various topics has been an enrichment for me”.


The scientific and educative collaboration initiated in Naples will continue next year in Olomouc, with a new Blended Program dedicated to the study of European multilingualism and educational perspectives for Europe to come.


Fostering Community Building through Blended Intensive Programme at Universität Innsbruck

Foster community building: This was the overarching theme of the first Aurora BIP Staff Week, which took place at Universität Innsbruck from October 2-6, 2023. Participants from almost all Aurora partners – coming from both academia and administration – exchanged manifold ideas with colleagues from Universität Innsbruck to develop new activities and projects.

With more than 50 members of staff, the first Aurora Staff Week at Universität Innsbruck was a great success. In different formats and settings, the main topics of Transformative Education, Innovation Management, Societal Engagement, and Internationalization were explored in depth over several days. Best practices from Universität Innsbruck and the Aurora partner universities served as the basis for the exchange, stimulating a mutual dialogue in the sense of peer learning and opening space for creativity and new ideas.

“Personal encounters are incredibly important for a network like Aurora to be filled with life,” emphasises Rector Veronika Sexl, who is responsible for international affairs at Universität Innsbruck. “I am very pleased that so many colleagues, both in-house and from the Aurora partner universities, have actively taken up the invitation to exchange ideas and that new projects are already in the pipeline.” The “matchmaking sessions” were particularly fruitful, where concrete new activities, such as the development of joint courses, could be discussed in individual smaller settings.

First Erasmus+ Blended Intensive Programme (BIP) hosted by Universität Innsbruck

The Aurora Staff Week, which was funded and organised as an Erasmus+ Blended Intensive Programme (BIP), took place in Innsbruck after a virtual exchange of participants in September. For the first time, the Universität Innsbruck served as a hosting institution for the event. The Aurora Staff Week will conclude with a virtual follow-up meeting at the end of October.

BIPs are teaching/learning formats jointly run by several universities and combine virtual components with physical short-term mobility (“blended”). BIPs are a new mobility format embedded in the Erasmus program, implemented as part of the Erasmus program generation 2021-2027. Within Aurora, the general goal is to develop more joint BIPs between Aurora partners in the coming years. These can be used for training as well as teaching purposes.