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

20 May 2022

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 taking 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 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 research to make 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