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Transformative Power - Podcast #7 on the European Degree

The importance of establishing the European Degree is a notion examined in a Joint Position Paper developed by Una Europa, UNITE!, EC2U and EU-CONEXUS earlier this year. The idea behind the European Degree is that it should allow students from all levels of study and across all disciplines to decide what, where and when to study, choosing among the members of a transnational university alliance. It is also meant to provide a framework to ease the delivery of joint degrees in consortia, including European University Alliances.

In this seventh episode of the Una Europa podcast, two experts on the European Degree invite us to take part in the exciting process of shaping this innovative transnational programme format. Sharing their knowledge and front-row experience, our two invited speakers draw from the distinct viewpoints of their respective European University Alliances as they discuss their most pressing challenges and explain how the European Degree is different from other existing joint degrees.

Our invited speakers offer the perspectives of two different European University Alliances. Kurt Willems is Chair of the Una Europa Working Group on the European Degree, and Mirko Varano works at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, which is a member of the European University Network UNITE! Moderated by Una Europa Policy Officer Sophia Karner, Kurt and Mirko provide a compelling argument for the desire and need for joint degree programmes that give students the freedom to decide what, where and when to study so that they can fully realise their ambitions.

" Joint European Bachelor Degrees are in particular still few and far between & we are hoping that our Bachelor in European Studies will be one of the first truly joint Bachelors. The first student cohort should be recruited for the academic year 2022/ 2023. "

Sophia Karner on the Una Europa Joint Bachelor's in European Studies

" We should ensure a minimum common denominator. From our point of view it’s that this European Degree should be more readable world-wide... and therefore make European Higher Education as a system more attractive, both for EU and non-EU students. "

Mirko Varano on the hopes and needs of the European Degree

About the speakers

Kurt Willems is Professor of Educational Law and Administrative Law at KU Leuven and Chair of the Una Europa Working Group on the European Degree and the Legal Cluster. He is also Head of the Leuven Centre for Public Law and a judge in the Appeal Chamber for disciplinary measures against educators of subsidised schools and a member of the Council on pupils’ rights. Kurt is one of the directors of ELA (the European Education Law Association) and ICOR (Interuniversity Centre for Education Law), and the author of various contributions in Belgian and international journals and books.

Mirko Varano is Senior Advisor International Projects at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, which is a member of the UNITE! European University alliance. Mirko has been active in the field of internationalisation of higher education for the past 25 years, covering different positions of responsibility at the Turin Technical University before being appointed as CLUSTER network coordinator from 2008 to 2010. He was previously internationalisation officer at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and is currently an adviser for international projects at the same institution, with a focus on Erasmus+ and university networks.

Sophia Karner is Una Europa’s Policy Officer based in Brussels, and acted as moderator for this episode. Sophia is responsible for monitoring EU policy across the areas of education, research and innovation as well as strengthening the alliance’s advocacy work towards EU policy makers. Over the past months, Sophia has been closely following the European Degree file and contributing to Una Europa’s positioning on the topic.

" We can have joint programs, we can strive for excellence and we try to do that... with our universities. For me the added value of what we are doing now is... the European University Initiative has created something that could have a transformative power "

Kurt Willems on the transformative power of the European Degree

The podcast is part of the 1Europe project and co-financed by Erasmus+.