Institutional Network of the Universities from the Capitals of Europe
The Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA) is a network of 44 universities, gathering major higher education institutions in the European capital cities. It was founded in 1990 on the initiative of the Université Libre de Bruxelles. The mission of the network, which has a combined strength of over 120,000 staff and 1,500,000 students, is to promote academic excellence, integration and co-operation among its member universities throughout Europe. It also seeks to be a driving force in the development of the Bologna process and to facilitate the integration of universities from Central and Eastern Europe into the European Higher Education Area. The office of the network is located in the University Foundation in Brussels.
- 1 Activities
- 2 Structure
- 3 Contact persons
- 4 UNICA member universities
- 5 External links
UNICA activities are divided into five main categories or clusters:
- Internationalisation and Mobility
- Research and Development
- Policy and Strategy
- Mission and Link with Society
Internalisation and mobility
For the implementation and achievement of the UNICA Internationalisation and Mobility goals, the international relations officers (IROs) from member universities play a main role. IROs meet at least once a year to discuss UNICA approaches, initiatives and policies in the field of higher education. Projects and collaboration in member universities are developed within UNICA working groups.
Organised every two years, UNICA Student Conference gathers students from UNICA Member Universities for a three-day meeting during which they examine and debate on Europe’s most pertinent issues. The meeting’s objective is to encourage the participants to share their views and develop their recommendations while working in multinational and multicultural teams. A final publication, sent later to the European Commission for its consideration, gathers the conclusions and suggestions of the students.
UNICA promotes and facilitates student exchanges within the network. One of the actions is enhancing student Mobility through the online information platform European Campus. The latter is an initiative of both UNICA and Youth Agora. This online platform is supported by the Erasmus Mundus Programme of the European Commission. The European Campus collects information about master programmes and stories with the help of new technologies. It provides students a European-wide search facility through master programmes of the European Campus.
To improve the exchange of best practices between universities, UNICA has developed a project of exchange of academic staff within member universities.
UNICA Chair is a project implemented by the city and the University of Lausanne and carried out via annual cycles of conferences. The objective of this project is the exchange of academic staff within UNICA universities to develop relations between the university and the city and to enhance collaboration between UNICA members.
- The Bologna Lab is coordinated by the University of Vienna. The aim of this laboratory is to present best practices related to the implementation of the Bologna process.
- UNICA awards grants for the development of the most interesting Joint Programmes (Master and PhD). Till now, eight joint programmes have received the UNICA grant.
- UNICA has established a working group of experts dealing with admission and recognition issues within member universities.
- Starting with a limited number of universities, the European Campus aims to create an area of free movement of students, reducing the administrative procedures to the minimum.
Research and development
In the research and development field, two main seminars are organised: PhD Coordinators' Meetings and the EU Research Seminar.
The EU Research Officers is a group of experts dealing with EU Research policies and initiatives at member universities.
Policy and strategy
In the framework of policy and strategy, UNICA organises every year a Rectors’ Seminar to discuss governance and policy issues and to exchange best practices between member universities.
The Scholarly Communication Seminar is an initiative to provide a think tank on the evolution of the role of libraries in the universities.
UNICA benefits from European Commission grants on higher education sector. It has submitted some projects which have been approved and implemented.
The UNICA Urban-Capital working group aims to analyse and to give solutions to problems and changes in capital cities. UNICA cooperates with the Union of the Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).
UNICA Green Academic Footprint (UGAF)
UNICA Green Academic Footprint has been initiated by UNICA's member universities. The main objective of this initiative was to reinforce the commitment of UNICA Member Universities for the environment and give them an opportunity to respond to the current and upcoming environmental challenges. By joining the initiative, the universities commit to promote and implement environmental sustainability in their universities and in the society. They are expected to work with all stakeholders, including both the public and the private sectors and the other universities.
The UGAF Core Group is composed by nine members from different European universities. The group used to be chaired by Jorulf Brovig Slide (University of Oslo) and it at the moment co-chaired by both Alexandra Demoustiez (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and Antoinette Charon Wauters (Université de Lausanne). Beside the three latter, the group includes Maryam Faghihimani (University of Oslo), Mihkel Kangur (Tallinn University), Carla Farelo and Marca Vila (Universidade de Lisboa), Stefano Cordiner (University of Rome - Tor Vergata) and Andreas Wanke (Freie Universität Berlin).
Once a year, UGAF Core Group organises a workshop to exchange practices and share experience related to environmental sustainability at universities. The theme changes from one workshop to another. In 2013 the workshop dealt with the importance of the cooperation between the universities and the cities. In 2014, the workshop will focus, among other things, on the possibility of implementing a environmental management system in universities.
UNICA Secretariat in Brussels provides traineeship opportunities for students from UNICA Member Universities interested in environmental sustainability issues. UGAF trainees support the UGAF initiative by assisting the UGAF Core Group in the organization of different events and project-based activities.
UGAF is communicating its actions and projects through its website and through a biannual newsletter.
Besides its own events, UGAF participates to others environmentally-linked events, such as the World Student Environmental Summit, the World Food Day, the World Water Day and the European Mobility Week.
The network's internal organisation consists in three bodies: the General Assembly (with one meeting per year), the Steering Committee (with four meetings per year) and the International Relations Officers' Committee (two meetings per year). The General Secretariat in Brussels assures general co-operation and administration of the network.
Each UNICA member university is represented by a contact person. The system enables easy communication and fast information flow between the members.