Prof. Stefano Ronchi, Politecnico di Milano 

How is the pandemic amplifying the transformation of research and education? Which challenges can we solve more easily at European level? How will we work in university administration, research and education in the future? More than 600 students, academics and key stakeholders from society and partner universities met for the digital ENHANCE launch event, on 12 March to discuss the future of digital education, smart working, international relations and mobility.

During the all-day event, professors, students and staff of our seven Universities started to co-design a prototype of the future “European University”: While academia uses the momentum of accelerated digital transformation, the University of the Future is envisioned as a mixed model between on-campus university and post-pandemic hybrid teaching.

As ENHANCE, we come to understand that no institution can shape the Post-Covid educational system itself: Cooperation is the real turning point of the pandemic. As European Universities of Technology, we must take our responsibility to shape the new role of higher education in the post-Covid society. After all, European Universities are key contributors to the world-leading role that Europe is seeking to play in education research, innovation and education.

Commitment towards excellence, openness and inclusion

As the ENHANCE alliance we see our goal to lay the foundations for a barrier-free European education area, where students, professors, researchers and staff can move seamlessly and freely, as if they were all part of the same institution. To secure that, we will strive for an alignment between the administrative apparatus of our Universities and a better cooperation between national authorities at European level.

We want to invest in a digital learning ecosystem, where we use the opportunities offered by distance learning to increase our exchanges, share lectures and co-design new inter-university courses. The online shift has pushed universities to be more flexible and students to be more independent, a flexibility we should only use to the advantage of staff and students. Since the post-pandemic world will see a higher demand for adaptive learning resources, we want to create common educational paths, share infrastructures and services within our University network. Location, either physical or virtual, will not be a barrier anymore. This is the future of a European university system – and of the concept of Europe itself.