A group of seven universities in central and eastern Europe will work with the League of European Research Universities to help develop science in the region.
The initiative is designed to help give research universities in eastern and central Europe a voice during Leru’s interactions with the European Commission.
The group wants to show policy makers that there is “more that unites research universities than divides them”, according to Bert van der Zwaan, ad interim chair of Leru.
Institutions in the new group, which will be known as the CE7, are the universities of Belgrade, Ljubljana, Tartu, Warsaw and Zagreb, Charles University in Prague and Eötvös Loránd University. Rectors from these institutions met with the heads of the universities of Freiburg, Helsinki, Leuven and Zurich, and Utrecht University in Prague - all Leru members - this weekend.
Among the topics discussed by the 12 university chiefs were the low success rates of European research funding programmes, student mobility and student skills development.
Professor van der Zwaan, who is also the rector magnificus of Utrecht University, said: “I am very pleased that we can now announce a joint initiative to demonstrate to policy makers across Europe that there is more that unites research universities than divides them.”
Leru said that it will bring input from the CE7 to its meetings with the EU Commission about the European Research Area and Open Science Policy Platform, which advises the EC on open science policy.
The group will also specifically look at actions of the EC that target research in Central and Eastern Europe, which they say do not function as well as they could. Part of their discussions will look at different approaches to research in this part of Europe that could work in the funding programme that follows Horizon 2020.
Kurt Deketelaere, Leru secretary general, said: “Together, we will take on a number of thorny issues, reflect on them, and show policy makers that win-win solutions are possible.”
In addition the universities in the group hope to work together to develop joint PhDs and conferences, and collaborative research projects, as well as look at student exchanges, staff mobility and evaluation systems.