Photo from the meeting
Photo: Peter Pulkowski

The European University Alliance FORTHEM welcomes new partners and strengthens its network with the university cities' administrations and chambers of commerce.

On 22-23 September, the FORTHEM European University Alliance met in Mainz, Germany, for its first face-to-face meeting after the pandemic. The FORTHEM Alliance had not physically met since October 2019, when the project kick-off was celebrated in Valencia. The meeting was attended by representatives of the seven universities in the consortium (Valencia, Mainz, Dijon, Palermo, Riga, Yiväskylä and Opole), as well as representatives of FORTHEM's partner cities and their chambers of commerce and industry. At the event, the leaders of the city administration, chambers of commerce and the seven universities jointly signed a declaration of commitment to collaboration for the development of science, research, education and sustainable development in cooperation between all regions.

The Mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, and the first vice-president of the Valencia Chamber of Commerce, Vicente Folgado, accompanied and gave their full support to the University of Valencia, which was represented by the Vice-principal for Internationalisation and Cooperation, Carles Padilla, by delegation of the Principal María Vicenta Mestre. In a letter sent to the Principal of the University of Mainz, Mestre welcomed the progress of the Alliance and said: "No other project in our universities has brought together so many people from all over Europe, whether in summer schools, online courses, internships, research groups or in collaboration at the administrative level. Currently, more than 500 people across the universities are involved in the project, which has ambitious goals, such as launching double and joint degrees, a shared digital academy, moving towards a paperless administration or mobilising 50% of our students in the near future, among others.

FORTHEM is one of 41 university networks funded by the European Commission under the ERASMUS+ programme. "In the two years that our FORTHEM Alliance has been active now, the seven partner universities have already made remarkable progress toward becoming a transnational European University," emphasized Professor Stephan Jolie, Vice President for Learning and Teaching at Mainz University. The Alliance currently has a budget allocated by the European Commission of EUR 5 million and is expected to reach a total of EUR 24 million in its future enlargement for the period 2022-2027. During the 2021 network meeting, the FORTHEM network also signed a letter of intent with the University of Agder in Norway and the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu in Romania as part of the preparations for their full membership.