By Naveed Syed, ENHANCE Secretary General
Late November in 2022, we, as once an alliance of seven partners came together in Aachen, Germany, to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding that confirmed our expansion to ten member universities, consolidating our ambition, to push for a transformation of higher education and to further invest time, effort, and resource into ENHANCE.
Within the scope of ENHANCE+, our new phase of the ENHANCE transformation funded by Erasmus+ and starting on 1 November 2023, we have come together to update our mission statement: “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”.
Our new approach will put people at the heart of our initiative. While our mission will drive systemic joint development in education and research to provide our students, scientists and lifelong learners with cutting-edge offers, an equally important stakeholder group is our administration. To take it a step further, let’s not talk about the people that we consider students or lifelong learners, but about the people behind the people, our core operational staff.
This stakeholder group is a vital one, without it, there is no ENHANCE to start with. When an idea, an ambition or an aspiration has been vocalised it requires people to carry this idea, to create enabling frameworks and to gauge interest and institutional endorsement to allow for its implementation and longevity.
The core operational staff, or to be more precise, our Core Officers (COs) and Work Package Leads (WPLs) are key stakeholder groups in building and consolidating a European University Alliance.
The Core Officers are our universities bird’s eye view of affairs. They have a project level overview of their institution’s involvement in ENHANCE. We would consider Core Officers to be key contacts for the ENHANCE Operational Office (OO) to discuss matters that, at times, go beyond work package level and are of more administrative nature. It is therefore crucial to have close communication between the team of the OO and the COs to ensure careful project oversight, progress monitoring and project development.
Within the scope of the ENHANCE governance structure, the COs support their university delegates participating in the various governance bodies and function as persons of contact. They are important advisers to their members of the Steering Committee, our most operational leadership body.
Work Package Leads
While the Core Officers are active in more administrative realms, the Work Package Leads are responsible for the coordination of our work package activities and establish regular working group meetings to ensure smooth communication and collaboration.
Each partner university carries the responsibility for one work package. ENHANCE+ comprises of ten work packages spanning more organisational topics such as project management and communications to key topics of higher education such as joint educational offers, connected IT infrastructure and services and transdisciplinary activities, which engage society.
The Work Package Lead has the mandate to make decisions for many operational matters within their assigned area of responsibility, always in consultation with the partners involved in a particular work package and activity. They are key drivers of our mission as they move forward the content-based ambitions that we have as an alliance. The WPLs are experts in their fields and bring together their counterparts within our network and amongst our associated partner network, consisting of civil society organisations, academic institutions, companies, and municipalities. With their work, WPLs have the potential to inspire our academic communities to get involved in ENHANCE activities and programmes.
Engaging the academic communities of our Alliance is a key success factor for the European Universities Initiative. While we need our Core Officers to develop the administrative playing field, our Work Package Leads are important aggregators for scientific and educational exchange and interaction. This exchange is subsequently an important prerequisite for innovation and long-term planning.
We consider ENHANCE to be an enabling space that allows for our students, our scientific staff, and our administrative staff to come together and to develop new activities. The enabling element of our platform is our core operational staff. Without them we would be missing a crucial connector that allows for our communities to form, to grow and to prosper.