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Faces of our CommUNAty: “The European Degree can ensure European citizenship through European education for all, not just for the few.”

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A new face to our Una Europa community, Project Officer Laura Colò has jumped straight into the ED-AFFICHE project piloting the joint European Degree label. Navigating a powerhouse consortium of six European University Alliances (Una Europa, 4EU+, CHARM-EU, EC2U, EU-CONEXUS and Unite!), comprising 51 higher education institutions (HEIs) across 22 countries, Laura will support the ED-AFFICHE team in taking concrete steps towards realising the transformative potential of the European Degree label, identifying and overcoming hurdles in the development of joint degree programmes.

After just three weeks on the project, Laura shares her perspective on the ambitions, processes, and lasting impact of the work, and why the dream of a joint European Degree label is so exceptional to her.

This interview is part of Faces of our CommUNAty – a series shining a spotlight on the individuals behind Una Europa.

For those who might not be familiar with ED-AFFICHE and its goals, can you describe the project in your own words?

Last year, the European Commission announced a call for European University Alliances to examine and facilitate the delivery of the joint European Degree label: “a step towards a joint European degree”. The ED-AFFICHE project consortium answered the call and successfully secured the support of the European Commission.

The project will develop and share recommendations on criteria associated with the joint European Degree label and its possible design and implementation, through consultations with key stakeholders. Of course this means conversations with legal experts and coordinators of joint programmes, to understand the legal hurdles faced by existing joint programmes. These consultations will provide a basis for dialogue with national and regional authorities. But ED-AFFICHE will also take into consideration the perspectives of students and engage with accreditation and quality assurance agencies as well as employer representations at European level, to ensure that all invested parties are consulted in the process.

The project consortium really wants to engage in consultations with all interested parties, to offer the European Commission a comprehensive overview of what is happening now, and what can be improved in the future. Hopefully this way we can support the European Commission to develop the joint European Degree label.

ED-AFFICHE encompasses 51 HEIs across 22 countries – a powerhouse consortium. What is it like to work in this environment?

Up to now, it has been quite easy! All the partners are looking in the same direction, sharing the same interests, ambitions, and expectations for the project, which is really exceptional.

I can feel that all the partners want to collaborate, to build something qualitative for the future and make the project sustainable. They share the ambition for the work to continue beyond the duration of the project, and for the consequences and positive impact to be there for many years to come. When you have partners that care so much about the outcomes of the project, and give it priority, I think it doesn’t matter how many partners there are. The willingness is there.

" Ensuring smoother processes for developing and delivering European degrees can have a huge impact on students across Europe. The European Degree label will foster a European sense of belonging, and stimulate students to open their minds to other cultures and perspectives. "

Laura Colò, Project Officer ED-AFFICHE

What do you think is the most exciting aspect of the ED-AFFICHE project?

ED-AFFICHE represents a major tangible step towards the European Degree, a cornerstone of the European Higher Education Area. I am super excited to be part of the process of creating a joint European Degree label. If the pilot projects are successful, this will provide a lot of momentum to transform the European Higher Education Area. To be part of this is very exciting.

On a more personal note – in my previous position I worked for a network of universities across Europe, with the goal of creating a platform where universities could exchange on different topics. I found it exciting to engage in conversations with colleagues from universities across Europe, and I was always curious to understand what happens after these consultations, the impact of these discussions. Working on ED-AFFICHE as part of the Una Europa team has given me this different perspective.

What I really find exciting about this project is that I can dive into the legislation and legal processes that the universities of the consortium face every day. This more practical work is something very new to me, which I find interesting!

ED-AFFICHE is a twelve-month project but hopes to lay the groundwork for lasting impact. How do you see this long-term impact?

For me, the potential impact is very personal. When I was a student, I couldn’t take part in the Erasmus+ programme and so I always felt that I was missing something. I hope the joint European Degree label will make mobility more accessible to students, to enable an easier pathway to a high quality European educational experience for as many students as possible.

Ensuring smoother processes for developing and delivering European degrees, and promoting university collaboration in this way, can have a huge impact on students across Europe. The European Degree label will foster a European sense of belonging, and stimulate students to open their minds to other cultures and perspectives. This, in turn, can make European educational paths more attractive for students from outside Europe also.

I hope that the project will be sustainable, and the work will continue to have tangible impact beyond the funding period. That way we can really ensure European citizenship through European education for all, not just for the few.

Una Europa coordinates the ED-AFFICHE project, represented by partner university KU Leuven. Learn more about the ED-AFFICHE project.