Universität Innsbruck
Aurora strengthens bonds with the University of Minnesota

Aurora strengt­hens bonds with the Uni­ver­sity of Min­ne­sota

New opportunities will emerge at the Aurora universities with increased participation of the University of Minnesota (UMN) in the network. Jón Atli Benediktsson, rector of the University of Iceland and President of Aurora Network, and Joan T.A. Gabel signed an agreement pertaining to increased collaboration with the Aurora Network to explore new ways for UMN to participate in the network. 

Aurora is a network of ten European research-intensive universities with high research impact, united by a shared commitment to social relevance and a diverse student body. The Network incorporates the Sustainable Development Goals in all its work and emphasises social responsibility and student participation.

In Jón Atli’s address at the signing of the declaration of intent in Minneapolis last week, he talked about the goal of the Aurora collaboration in strengthening education, teaching, research, and innovation at all the network universities. This would be done in line with rapid societal changes.

Jón Atli also mentioned that Aurora created a platform for all the universities involved to further contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He also stressed that the University of Minnesota would be an excellent addition in that regard, as it has a strong focus on the SDGs. It would thus be an important gain for the network to add to the American university.

“The University of Minnesota is a prestigious, broad and dynamic research university. Their approach and emphasis on the same issues as Aurora has focused on will strengthen the foundation of the entire collaboration,” said Jón Atli, on the impact of the entry of the University of Minnesota into the network.

The University of Minnesota is one of the most dynamic universities in the United States and among the best worldwide. Founded in 1851, it currently has over 60 thousand students on several campuses in the state of Minnesota. The largest one is in the twin cities Minneapolis-St. Paul.  The University is a comprehensive research university and is ranked number 86 on the Times Higher Education list of the best universities in the world. It was announced just last week that the University of Minnesota is placed in seat 23 of all the public universities in the United States on a special list published by U.S. News and World Report, which is the highest it has been ranked in over a decade.

Fundamental changes in Aurora

The University of Iceland has been leading in the Aurora collaboration for a while now, with Jón Atli as President. The Aurora Network has grown considerably since 2020, when it was chosen as one of the European University Alliances, receiving a substantial grant from the European Union.  European university networks are one of the European Union’s main emphases in the field of higher education with a view to strengthening European universities, increasing their collaboration, and making them more competitive on the global stage.

“There have been considerable changes within Aurora, especially after the European Union launched the European Universities Initiative. European university networks are a focal point of the EU’s strategy in higher education, and their goal is to strengthen all European Universities. Aurora received a grant from the European Union in 2020, and since then, new European universities have joined the network. There are currently ten universities, with the latest one, Paris-Est Creitel in París.  The universities that have joined the collaboration in recent years are the: Copenhagen Business School – CBS (Denmark), the University of Innsbruck (Austria), the University of Naples Federico II (Italy), Palacký University Olomouc (Czech Republic), and Rovira i Virgili University (Spain),” said Jón Atli.

Strengthens core operations in all Aurora universities

The Aurora Network revolves around core university operations in all these universities, benefitting both students and staff. The network is thus a dynamic, collaborative platform creating new and exciting opportunities in pedagogical development and research. “It is, of course, the goal of the Aurora Universities to better equip their staff to effectively integrate societal innovation and sustainability into study programmes and research.”

“By participating in Aurora projects, academics can learn about new teaching methods, grow in their careers and strengthen their international network. The Aurora collaboration creates diverse opportunities for students to have a meaningful international experience as part of their studies at the University of Iceland as well as taking part in their studies at other Aurora universities. The network furthermore empowers them to participate in societal innovation and contribute to building a sustainable society.  The financial support from the European Union has been vital in this regard. Diverse opportunities in student exchanges, joint degrees, dynamic research work, and shared research infrastructure is, and will become, even more, prominent in the universities’ collaboration,” says the University Rector.

A strong network in the future

When asked about the next steps in the collaboration of these dynamic universities, Jón Atli mentions that they are already preparing an application for continued support from the European Union for the next four years.

“This entails more financing than has already been put into the collaboration, which will strengthen the network considerably if the application is approved. This would benefit students and staff at the University of Iceland and all other universities, of course. The point is to create exciting opportunities and strengthen university operations. The participation of the University of Minnesota is crucial to moving forward.

Aurora strengthens bonds with the University of Minnesota | Aurora (aurora-universities.eu)

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