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Faces of our CommUNAty: “The sense of solidarity is strong.”

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January 2023 marks the start of University of Helsinki Vice-Rector Hanna Snellman’s term as Chair of Una Europa’s Board of Directors. As she embarks on the year ahead, Hanna shares her reflections on Una Europa’s journey so far and the opportunities (and challenges) that lie before us as an alliance.

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

What are the big issues being discussed by the Board of Directors right now?

We’ve just begun our four-year rollout project funded by Erasmus+. Our shared goal is to engage the entire academic community and make students’ voices even more heard. Research and innovation is going to be a big theme for the alliance in 2023. Una Europa’s R&I Strategy is in development right now – it’s a crucial step towards our vision of creating a joint research ecosystem between our partner universities. And continuing to build Una Europa’s international partnerships is also high on the agenda for the Board of Directors. Una Europa is committed to tackling global challenges. To do this effectively, global collaboration is key.

In your opinion, what is Una Europa’s biggest achievement to date?

We have achieved an astonishing number of things in a short period of time. For instance, more than 270 students have begun their studies in Una Europa’s Joint Bachelor of Arts in European Studies in the academic year 2022–2023. I and many others believe that Una Europa is a clear leading player in the transformation of the European Higher Education Area. The contribution of the University of Helsinki community to this collaboration has been great, and I’m proud of it.

What challenges do you foresee?

Getting the entire academic community involved requires effort and is a prerequisite for success. Sustainable international activities also pose a big challenge. For example, at University of Helsinki, we want to enable face-to-face encounters between members of the Europe-wide Una Europa community, but we are geographically far from the other universities. This affects not only our travel decisions, but also decisions at the other universities to visit Helsinki.

What do you particularly want to advance as Chair?

I hope that our educational initiatives will be successful. I also hope that more and more researchers will find one another through a range of research projects. The joint use of research infrastructures offers many possibilities. In general, I see a major opportunity in sharing resources.

Where do you see Una Europa in 10 years?

Involvement in the alliance has become a normal part of everyday operations among the partner universities. It’s easy for students, academics and teachers as well as professional services staff to find opportunities for self-improvement and collaboration within Una Europa. The sense of solidarity is strong.

Una Europa has kicked off our ambitious four-year rollout project funded by the Erasmus+ Programme’s European Universities Initiative. Find out more.