Group: For Academics

17 grants for the María Zambrano international talent recruitment programme

The Universitat Rovira i Virgili has opened the call for 17 postdoctoral grants on the María Zambrano international talent recruitment programme. The application period is between today and September 15th.

This call is for research staff who have been involved in postdoctoral for at least two years at universities or research centres outside Spain. The 17 contracts offered can have a duration of two years and the successful candidates will be paid a net salary of approximately €36,100 a year as well as a single payment of €3,500 to cover any expenses incurred.

The programme is endowed with a budget of €1,691,500 euros, from a direct subsidy provided by the Spanish Ministry of Universities thanks to the European Union and the “NextGenerationEU” funds, in the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

This call is for people who have been involved in postdoctoral research for at least two years at universities or research centres outside Spain. Applications can be made till September 15th.

The Year 2020: Vrije Universiteit, at the heart of society

Managing partner of the Aurora European University Alliance, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has released their Year in review 2020. In their 2020: Year in review and in their 2020 Annual Report, they reflect on some significant and memorable moments. The year 2020 was exceptional for many reasons. Because of the pandemic, they were forced to work and study primarily online, and to transform into a university that operates at a one-and-a-half-meter distance. It also marked the start of their anniversary year, the Kuyper Year.

The Corona Research Fund, the Athena Institute’s COVID-19 platform, Caring Universities and the free COVID -19 search engine from Findest. These are just a few of the many initiatives that the VU community has introduced, along with partners, during the 2020 corona year. In addition, they had to transform their education into a hybrid format, with an online emphasis. Together, they worked hard in difficult circumstances and showed exceptional resilience, adaptability and commitment.

VU Amsterdam turned 140 in the year 2020. With the Opening Academic Year, they kicked off the Kuyper year with the Kuyper Challenge and with many examples of social entrepreneurship. During the Dies Natalis, Her Majesty Queen Máxima also stressed the importance of entrepreneurship and particularly the role of SMEs. In the year review, Mirjam van Praag, President of the Aurora European University Programme and of the VU Executive Board, also emphasized how Aurora is an opportunity for VU students to gain knowledge and skills to foster social entrepreneurship. VU Amsterdam was also named the most sustainable university in the Netherlands in 2020 and they declared their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. In 2020, VU once again demonstrated its position at the heart of society.

Curious about these stories and more inspiring examples from VU in 2020? Read the Year in review ‘VU Amsterdam: at the heart of society 2020’ in English.

Aurora Spring Biannual 21

On May 20 – 21st, the tenth Aurora Biannual took place, where Aurora presidents, students and staff met to learn from and with each other.

The first day began with an opening plenary focusing on the future of academic collaboration between British and other European universities following Brexit. Ms Adrienn Kiraly, Head of the Cabinet to Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Education, Culture and Youth, touched upon our collaborations with other universities and said “Your alliance is already well placed to be a role model for other higher education institutions in Europe and beyond: Your association with three other higher education institutions in Bulgaria, Slovakia and North Macedonia as well as your commitment to developing a capacity development support programme for more than 30 Universities from Central Eastern Europe and neighbouring countries testify for this.” She also highlighted our collaborations with our students by saying: “ I am very happy to see that you have put in place the Aurora Student Champions Scheme in order to ensure student representation in each of your activities.

During the plenary, Paul Boyle (Vice-Chancellor Swansea University and EUA Vice-President) outlined the 7 key points UK universities must address in order to advance in academic collaborations. One of these points is the need for a European wide funding system open to the world. He mentions that universities in the UK feel fortunate to be part of Horizon EU and participate in the vast majority of that scheme. However, there are many other countries from which they could gain value collaborating too. Karine Samuel (Vice President for International Affairs of Université Grenoble Alpes) stressed the importance of international collaboration and how the Aurora collaboration was especially useful in the pandemic by exchanging experiences and best practices with other Aurora universities. Ms Emily Reise from the University of Iceland added a students’ voice and emphasized the accessibility and mobility of students and sees the advantage of short term mobility experiences for students.

After lively parallel session presentations and dynamic conversations, we entered the virtual reception building where Jón Atli Benediktsson (Aurora Network President and Rector of the University of Iceland) welcomed the Minister of Education, Science and Culture of Iceland, Lilja Alfredsdottir. Ms Alfredsdottir believes that the strength of Iceland lies in its international collaborations and that these collaborating networks have ensured that Icelandic research is truly global and ambitious. She says: “No single institution can tackle world challenges on its own but collaboration brings a strength that can be greater than the sum of its parts. With that in mind, the European Commission has focused its recent efforts in higher education on forming strong European University networks capable of producing internationally competent European students, European research, and European solutions”. Jón Atli introduced Ms Anne-May Janssen who will take over from Kees Kouwenaar as Secretary-General of Aurora from July 25th of this year. The reception also welcomed a comedy sketch by comedian Ari Eldjarn. Ari enthused the public with his charismatic interpretations of the many European cultures.

The second day continued with open parallel dissemination sessions and a wrap up of the reports and reflections. President of the Alliance Board Mirjam van Praag shared the accomplishments and challenges of the last 6 months. Among the achievements are the many courses that have been identified to be Aurorarized, a 2-year master program, an international traineeship program, a framework for mobility grant allocation, the 32 students engaged in the Aurora Student Champion Scheme and 15 student ambassadors. Next to accomplishments, Ms van Praag also shared a key concern about the involvement of academics in Aurora and integrating Aurorarized course into existing degree programs.

In total, 25 of Aurora’s active working groups and task teams met during the Biannual, and 7 dissemination sessions informed a wider Aurora audience on aspects of the Aurora programme of activities.

In the wrap-up, it was announced that it is the last term of Callum Perry, initiator of the Aurora student Champions Scheme and that his successor will be elected in the following months. And lastly, Maria José Figueras Salvat, Rector of Universitat Rovira i Virgili, announced that the fall biannual 2021 will physically be organized in Tarragona.

Aurora Ranks in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

Aurora universities have appeared in high positions in the Times Higher Education SDG ranking and excelled in numerous SDGs.

Times Higher Education has ranked universities based on their performance against indicators of global social and economic impact and advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings consider all 17 SDGs, and each university is scored for its performance in advancing each goal. A university’s overall ranking is then based on its top three SDG scores plus its score for Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals.

Aurora member university, the University of Aberdeen, has been placed 57th out of 1,115 institutions worldwide in the newly published Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings. Areas in which the university has excelled include Partnership for the Goals (SDG17) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG11), where Aberdeen has been placed 27th globally for both. The University of Iceland has ranked in the SDGs health and wellbeing (SDG3), industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG9), as well as responsible consumption and production (SDG12). The University of Iceland’s overall position in THE Impact Rankings is 301-400. Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) maintains its position, although 347 more institutions have entered this ranking and have high rankings for Climate Action (SDG13), Gender Equality (SDG5) and Quality Education (SDG4).  UEA ranked between 101-200 out of 1,115 institutions in total, placing it in the top 20% for its sustainable development. UEA participated in six of the 17 SDGs, and achieved some other positive results, including 57th place out of a possible 653 for ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ (SDG16). Joint 74th out of a possible 871 for ‘Good Health and Wellbeing (SDG3). The four SDGs to which VU Amsterdam connects the most are Climate Action (SDG13), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9), Gender Equality (SDG 5), Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10). The overarching position of the university in the Impact ranking 2021 is in the range of 101-200. Aurora associate member university, Palacký University Olomouc, has rankings in Good health and wellbeing (SDG3), Decent Work and Economic growth (SDG8), Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG11), and Partnerships for the Goal (SDG17). Overall the university is ranked in the 401-600 position.

Aurora congratulates its universities with these outstanding results. Aurora is extremely committed to matching academic excellence with societal impact, and these rankings prove that we are well on our way. The Aurora SDG Bibliometrics tool developed is an exceptional tool that maps the research output by all our universities: please view the tool here. More about Aurora here.

New Aurora Secretary-General: Board appoints Anne-May Janssen

Kees Kouwenaar will retire and step down as Secretary-General on July 25th, 2021. We will give proper attention to the role which Kees has played on September 17th, 2021.

The Board of the Aurora Universities Network is now pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Anne-May Janssen to succeed Mr Kees Kouwenaar as Aurora’s Secretary General; to ensure a smooth and efficient handover, Ms Janssen will start working at the Aurora office on July 1st.

Ms Janssen completed her degree in Public Policy and Human Development at Maastricht School of Governance.  She started her career as a junior lecturer at Maastricht University. In 2011 she made the switch to the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs as a policy officer. In 2014 Ms Janssen moved to Brussels to work at the Netherlands House for Education and Research (Neth-ER) as an account manager for the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU) and Nuffic. Ms Janssen primarily lobbied for the NFU and successfully influenced the European Commission to include the NFU’s research priorities in the 2016 Horizon 2020 Health Work Programme. From 2017 onwards, Ms Janssen is the Head of European Engagement at Universities UK International (UUKi) in London. She leads UUKi’s European policy and engagement activities and works to maximise the sector’s profile, impact and visibility in Brussels and other European capitals and countries.

The Board is convinced that Anne-May Janssen will bring great expertise to Aurora and prove to be a Secretary-General with a great focus on engagement and working together with the Aurora partner universities and their students. It will be a challenge to continue the great work of Kees Kouwenaar, Aurora’s first Secretary-General, but the Board is convinced that Anne-May Janssen has the competence and skills needed to guide Aurora to the next stage.

In an interview, Mr Kouwenaar and Ms Janssen share their views on recent development in Higher Education and the embeddedness of university in society. Please watch the video here:

Aurora Mini-Grants – List of awarded Mini-Grants

After a very successful first call for applications, in which 27 applications were filed, the Aurora Central Office at Palacky University has finished its evaluation. It is our pleasure to announce the applications that will be awarded a Mini-Grant.

Out of the 27 applications, 18 project applications were chosen to receive funding. In total, more than 1,6 Million Czech Crowns have been awarded in this first round. The funding of these projects paid directly from UP’s Rectorate’s sources will serve to further strengthen the Aurora Alliance, and will directly benefit these projects set up by academics.

This pilot phase of UP Aurora Mini-Grants received a wide range of applications, spanning several different fields, from five faculties and research centres. Below please find the list of funded projects:

  • Barbora SITTOVÁ – Webinars on German grammar
  • David LIVINGSTONE – Promoting Mental Health among Students with Online Cultural Entertainment
  • Elona KRASNIQI -Evidencing online risks of youth’s mental health of those coming from state care, and foster care.
  • Filip KRAUS – Academic Networking on Researching Migration, Identities, and Sexualities in the Vietnamese Diaspora
  • František KRATOCHVÍL – Wordnets for low-resource languages: Creating a roadmap for using NLP technology to aid language documentation, description, and maintenance
  • Jaroslava KUBÁTOVÁ -Sustainable Social Enterprises
  • Lenka DZUROVÁ – Protein engineering in the collaboration with appropriate Aurora Partner Universities
  • Ľudmila LACKOVÁ – Aurorization of the course Complex Analysis of Text and Communication Process
  • Lukáš ZÁMEČNÍK HADWIGER – Theory of Digital Humanities
  • Michal PEPRNÍK – Sharing expertise in English studies: PhD workshops and international conference
  • Miroslav KOPECKÝ – Active ageing – a healthy lifestyle
  • Pavel ZAHRÁDKA – Remix Culture in the Music Industry
  • Pavlína FLAJŠAROVÁ – Aurora-Shared Interdisciplinary Series of Lectures on Cultural Diversity
  • Peter TAVEL – The starting shot
  • Petra VACULÍKOVÁ- Cradle for Excellence in Social Sciences and Humanities (CROSS)
  • Petra VACULÍKOVÁ – Colonialism in 21st Century
  • Silvie VÁLKOVÁ – Bringing Academic Writing courses in English up-to-date
  • Tereza MOTALOVÁ – Galileo for Open Science: Network of Stewards and Navigation Interface for the World of Open Science (“OS Galileo”)

Ordered alphabetically, based on the first name of the PI.

The applicants were asked to specify whether their project dealt with Education, Research, and/or Professionalization, with most proposals concentrating on either Education or research. The applicants were also asked to disclose the partner and associate partners named and included in the proposal. The University of Innsbruck and our associate partners from Kosice proved to be the most frequent collaborators.

The Sustainable Development Goals also hold an important position in all of Aurora’s endeavours. The applicants were asked to pick at least one of the SDGs and demonstrate how their proposal contributes to that goal. SDG 4: Quality Education and SGD 17: Partnership for the Goals were chosen most often, with SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being proving popular as well.

The UP Aurora Office looks back on a promising, successful pilot phase for its Mini-Grant scheme. They are looking forward to further developing the scheme for future calls, and above all, they look forward to seeing these Mini-Grants contribute to the excellent international projects academics will carry out!

Join Aurora Alliance CDS Network of Universities

The Capacity Development Support Programme (CDS) of the Aurora European Universities Alliance is looking for universities to collaborate with.

The CDS programme is designed to help reduce the disparities between the research-leading and research-emerging countries in Europe by assisting universities in Central-Eastern Europe and Neighboring Countries to develop their institutional capacity for academic excellence and societal relevance. The expected outcomes are to spread the Aurora Alliance principles, values, skills, working processes and practical learnings to some 30 target universities in Europe and beyond.

To this end, Aurora Capacity Development Support Network of Universities (CDS Network of Universities) is being set up, with the purpose to articulate and strengthen the collaboration in supporting universities that are interested in the same objectives as Aurora Alliance member universities: in equipping diverse student populations with the skills and mind-set to address societal challenges as social entrepreneurs and innovators; in engaging with students and stakeholders at regional, national, European and global level; and in making our universities sustainable organisations.

The Aurora CDS Network of Universities is an inclusive platform for universities that want to work with Aurora’s common objectives. Applicant universities should freely express interest in the Aurora Alliance CDS mission as described in the Introduction section of this document by submitting a Letter of Intent and a University Fact Sheet to Tereza Kalousková via email at

The criteria for joining us is the following:

  • Applicant universities understand the key objectives of the Aurora Alliance programme and are interested in furthering in at least some of these objectives at their institutions.
  • Applicant universities express willingness to invest time and bring their resources and expertise to the collaboration.
  • Applicants are made aware of external funding needed for collaboration activities developing in the Network.

Applicants will be assessed on a rolling basis 2021-2022 by the CDS Task Team, led by Palacky University Olomouc with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam as co-lead. In the assessment, the opinion of the Associate Partners will be sought.

What We Offer – Network Programme

During the 2021-2023 period of collaboration, we focus our exchanges on awareness-raising training events and projects developed together, focusing:

  • Virtual Mobility/Internationalization at home
  • Co-creation and Service Learning
  • Inclusive, Equal and Diverse Education
  • Academic Competence Skill in Social Entrepreneurship.

The continued programme and activates of the Network will be a subject of evolving collaboration and co-sharing of interests in the internationalisation of higher education.

Cooperation Arrangement

There will be no legally binding duties between the members as a result of entering into the Network collaboration. Any bilateral agreements between the Network universities are subject to the inter-institutional arrangements and internal institutional regulations and policy in international cooperation.

For more information, please access the information sheet .

Ample opportunity for UI in the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Leads of the Aurora SDG Education Dashboard,  Auður Pálsdóttir, assistant professor at the School of Education, in collaboration with Lára Jóhannsdóttir, professor of environment and natural resources at the School of Social Sciences have led an in that analysed over 3300 courses at the University of Iceland on the sustainable content.


Over the past five years, the UN Sustainable

Development Goals have been guiding principles in international affairs, ever since the member states agreed to work towards them in September 2015. The SDGs, which total 17 and apply for the period 2016-2030, apply to all areas of society, since they are intended, for example, to combat global poverty and hunger and promote economic prosperity, peace, universal human rights, and sustainability in all areas to benefit the climate and environment.

The SDGs have started to receive more and more attention in the work of the University of Iceland. For example, the University has organized a series of lectures in which UI scientists and representatives of Icelandic society have explained the significance of the goals and targets, as well as pathways to achieving the goals. A review has also been carried out to find out where courses at the University of Iceland involve sustainable development and education in the spirit of the UN SDGs. This work was organised by Auður Pálsdóttir, assistant professor at the School of Education, in collaboration with Lára Jóhannsdóttir, professor of environment and natural resources at the School of Social Sciences.

Analysed 3,300 courses

“The project involved analysing the University of Iceland course catalogue for the winter 2019-2020, looking closely at course descriptions and learning outcomes for all courses at all five schools, a total of around 3,300. The goal was to map the available courses and their content in consideration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” says Auður.

Naturally, this was a considerable amount of work and so Auður and Lára recruited five students from the School of Education, each of whom completed a Master’s thesis based on the research. “Each Master’s student analysed all the courses at one school. Hafdís Ósk Jónsdóttir analysed courses at the School of Social Sciences, Guðjón Már Sveinsson analysed courses at the School of Health Sciences, Bjarni Bachmann analysed courses at the School of Humanities, Hildur Hallkelsdóttir analysed courses at the School of Education and Atli Rafnsson analysed courses at the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences. Each Master’s student also completed an individual project with a focus of their own choosing,” explains Auður.

Auður and Lára are both members of the UI Sustainability and Environmental Committee which has been working to shape the University’s new sustainability policy. “In other countries as well in Iceland, there is not much information about where university courses are working with the SDGs. We therefore decided to map all UI courses, whether they were taught this winter or not, because many courses are offered every other year but are part of an integral whole in the study programme,” says Auður of the inspiration behind the project.

We need to keep working with the SDGs within the University

In connection with the project, the team developed a special analytical key and a list of terminology in Icelandic and English containing key words for each SDG. These were used in the analysis. The Master’s students then created their own analytical key or criteria, each for their own individual projects, which were also used. The analytical keys were tested and fine-tuned in the course of the collaboration. “The aim was to ensure that working practices were as consistent as possible in order to guarantee reliable results and valid comparison between the schools,” explains Auður.

Auður says that the results of the project have revealed that there is ample opportunity for the University of Iceland related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “In many aspects, the University appears to be in a similar situation to other universities who are finding their way in the introduction of the SDGs. However, it seems we urgently need to focus on the key competencies which the UN defined in parallel to the SDGs as a requirement for work towards the goals and which apply to all studies,” adds Auður.

Key competencies are abilities that people acquire regardless of the content of the academic subject. “For example, the ability to analyse and understand different systems and how they are linked, the ability to apply critical thinking and be creative and the ability to collaborate and deal with conflict. Students acquire these key competencies through studying any of a wide range of subjects related to many kinds of knowledge, but also people’s preferences and interests. In light of this, the United Nations has long emphasised that students should be able to influence what and how they learn.”

Auður adds that the SDGs are extremely broad and much of this is not, at first sight, relevant to Iceland. “So we have to discuss and work with the SDGs so that everyone at the University understands their content and aims and how we at UI can do our bit for the global community in sustainable development and sustainability education. We are doing a lot at the University that fits in well with the path to sustainable development, but this is not made sufficiently explicit in the course catalogue,” says Auður.

Aurora Spring Biannual ’21

On May 20th and 21st, Aurora will hold its 10th Biannual Meeting. Spread over the entire day of Thursday, May 20th and Friday, May 21st until Mid-afternoon, academics, students, university leaders and administrators will come together to continue ongoing work, meet new colleagues and celebrate existing friendships.

The Aurora Spring 2021 Biannual commences with a plenary session featuring Head of the Cabinet to Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Education, Culture and Youth Adrienn Király and a panel discussion on the future of academic collaboration between British and other European universities Brexit. Prof. Paul Boyle, the vice-chancellor of Swansea University, UK and EUA Vice-President, will discuss this and join a panel discussion with Prof. Yassine Lakhnech (president of the University of Grenoble Alpes, member of Aurora) and Emily Reise, Aurora student representative (UIce). The panel will be moderated by John Style, Vice-Rector International of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili.

The first full day on May 20th will end with a lively and informal virtual reception. Jón Atli Benediktsson will be introducing the incoming Aurora Secretary-General, Anne-May Janssen

In between plenary and reception, the first Biannual day will offer many active Aurora task teams the time to sit and work together in parallel time slots in the morning and early afternoon. Simultaneously, the Aurora presidents will discuss their vision of Aurora’s future and the future benefits of being an Aurora university.

The afternoon will also feature four broad parallel sessions, each covering one of the more overarching themes of Aurora, such as “Education”, “Stakeholders”, “Academic engagement”, and “Sustainability”. Aurora welcomes president Joan Gabel of the University of Minnesota as a guest of honour. President Gabel will take part in the “Sustainability” session and share her views on the topic.

On Friday, May 21st, both the Aurora Universities Network and the Aurora European University Alliance will have a session of their respective supreme governance bodies: the Network General Council and the Alliance Board of Presidents. These formal meetings will be part of the first and second Friday parallel timeslots. The Aurora Network, General Council meeting, will run concurrently with many dissemination sessions. Aurora Biannual participants can find out about tools and services being developed to help Aurora academics, students and administrators. The Aurora Alliance Board of President’s meeting will run simultaneously with more task team working sessions.

Virtual venue & registration

The virtual conference platform will allow us to switch between formal sessions and meeting informally and casually as we see each other passing by the Aurora Biannual lounges.

Registration is through this link. We will liaise on registered participants with the institutional coordinators of your university, and we invite you to also inform your institutional coordinator of your intention to participate. Once your registration is confirmed, you will receive information by May 13th at the latest on how to log on to the virtual conference platform and instructions on how to navigate it.

 Please access the program by clicking the green button below.



Critical Perspectives on Governance Conferenc

The Conference on Critical Perspectives on Governance by Sustainable Development Goals is a biannual event organised by the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

The focus of the conference will be SDG4: “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” It aims to mobilize scholars young and old, policymakers, and civil society to share perspectives on the various roles education can play in relation to inclusive development.

During this conference, you will have the opportunity to assess the relevance of the goal, and its related targets and indicators, as well as develop a better understanding of the toolbox that is used to further its achievement.

More information about the program, different forms of participation and registration can be found below.