Ten universities, one voice: How to find a common voice as a European University
By Sarah Fowkes, Senior Project Officer, ENHANCE Alliance
Only by communicating our vision and the impact of ENHANCE activities can we enact real change in our institutions and local ecosystems. ENHANCE, as a European Alliance, unites the voices of its individual members institutions on those topics at the heart of this transnational project. Accordingly, our goal is to build up the community needed to make this mission sustainable and ensure lasting impact on the European higher education landscape. That involves both internal and external communication efforts, and in ENHANCE we benefit from our foundation of shared values and a joint ambition to guide the voice of the Alliance.
SHARED EUROPEAN VALUES
Members of the ENHANCE Alliance came together on the basis of shared values and a joint vision for the contribution that research-intensive universities of technology can make to major societal challenges, strengthened by longstanding close collaboration and trusted relationships. This has developed into an ambitious vision for the ENHANCE Alliance itself:
Rooted in European values, our Alliance of European Universities of Technology will turn global challenges into opportunities by empowering people with knowledge and competencies in science and technology, to drive responsible transformation for the benefit of society.
This mission acts as the guiding light throughout all ENHANCE activities and informs decisions or strategic developments. We thereby ensure that all activities and educational offers contribute to this overall vision. We are driven by the shared conviction that the European Universities can make an important contribution to the EU’s goals in research and education – including improving digital and technical competencies, increasing student mobility, increasing the competitiveness of European HE, and strengthening diversity and equality. Nonetheless, within any large transnational network there are always a range of experiences, strategic priorities and other interests that must feed into a joint mission statement such as this. Through our participatory governance model, we provide the necessary structures and space for exploratory discussions, where all members have an equal say, and importantly where differences are acknowledged and respected. Indeed, we celebrate our diversity and different strengths and experience, and apply these to our shared goals.
OUTREACH & ENGAGEMENT
As a network of excellent universities of technology, we also endeavour to use our common voice to speak up for causes that are important to the Alliance, including academic freedom and diversity in STEM. Our ambition is to help drive progress towards the European Education Area and European Research Area, and other key European goals in the sector. Joint policy and strategy papers are used to offer a more comprehensive input on key European higher education developments, pulling together the expertise of our member institutions. Our flagship communications event, the ENHANCE Conversations, is an international forum for critical thinkers, change and policy-makers, entrepreneurs and citizens focused on current social challenges, such as how we can unlock the potential of AI to promote diversity and gender equality. Through our activities and events, we seek to inspire members of our university communities and wider society to get involved in the ENHANCE mission. We are for example launching a student ambassador scheme whereby students share their mobility experiences with their peers. Similar actions involve administrative and scientific staff in outreach activities.
A European University touches all levels of higher education institutions (including students, researchers, senior academics, and administrative staff). If we want to build a strong common voice, we must also continue to work on raising recognition of these new cooperation models within individual institutions. To embark on the level of transformation we envisage, ENHANCE needs the contribution and support of its whole communities. Internal communication is therefore just as important as external communication. In ENHANCE, our network of local communication officers support these community-building efforts through the dissemination of new offers and upcoming activities, and key outcomes and impact. Internal newsletters and Work Package updates help ensure members of the Alliance can stay up to date on the latest project developments, identifying opportunities for new collaborations or ideas. We encourage openness and transparency in all communication, allowing us to always learn from one another and continue to add more layers to our shared ENHANCE voice.
Above all, the ENHANCE voice is driven by our shared mission and ambition to have real impact on the European higher education and research landscape, and to make a valuable contribution to the grand societal challenges of today and tomorrow. We continue to explore innovative models of cooperation and education methods and tools and as we do continue to shape our identity as the ENHANCE Alliance, steered by the expertise of our member institutions.