The network was founded in 2016 on the initiative of the VU Amsterdam, with Universität Innsbruck joining in 2019. Currently, the network comprises nine members from all over Europe. In the Aurora Network, full-fledged research universities with strong regional foundations come together in the sense of "matching research excellence with societal impact and engagement" and exchange ideas. The collaboration in the network is organized through working groups, which have developed in a bottom-up process over time.

The Aurora European Universities Alliance, on the other hand, is part of the European Universities Initiative of the European Commission, which was kick-started by a speech of French President Emmanuel Marcon at Sorbonne university in 2017, in which he proposed the establishment of at least 20 European Universities by 2024. In this speech, Macron speaks of European universities as a place of pedagogical innovation and excellent research, where students can study abroad and attend seminars in at least two languages. This idea was picked up and implemented by the European Commission as an Erasmus+ call for proposals, to which European university consortia could apply.

The Aurora network submitted a successful application for a European University as part of this funding line. The Aurora European University Alliance was launched on 01.11.2020, making it one of around 50 university consortia now participating in this European initiative.

Aurora enables the University of Innsbruck to initiate new types of cooperation that span all levels of the organisation and all fields of activity - teaching, research, innovation, impact on society. In general, the European Universities aim to achieve a substantial improvement in the quality, attractiveness and competitiveness of the participating universities and to promote the exchange of knowledge between all university members across borders - in a common, trusting network.

Erasmus+ is much more than a programme for student mobility. It is true that at the end of every Erasmus+ project, added value should be achieved for the high-quality education and training of learners. Whether the European Universities are funded via Erasmus+ or Horizon 2020, for example, is ultimately of secondary importance. The most important thing is whether we as universities succeed together in equipping ourselves for the challenges of the future.

The topics of the five so-called hubs represent the content-related bracket and focus within Aurora:

  • Sustainability & Climate Change
  • Digital Society & Global Citizenship
  • Health & Well-being
  • Culture: Diversity & Identity
  • Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Within the framework of these overarching topics, the students of the respective Aurora universities are to be equipped with the necessary professional competences, but above all with the "skillset & mindset" that will enable them to tackle the major global challenges in the sense of the SDGs. This can be achieved both within the respective universities, but especially through alliance-wide (teaching) activities.

In addition to (teaching) related activities, cooperation within the framework of the European Universities also touches on other university areas, such as the reduction of mobility barriers, support for networking in the field of research, initiatives to anchor the topic of sustainability more firmly at the respective universities, the expansion of joint IT infrastructures or stronger networking with social actors.

Aurora's networking and alliance activities are of interest to all members of the university. The Aurora Alliance focuses in particular on students and the promotion of mobility, but these issues are widely interconnected with a wider range of activities. In this respect, students, academics and administrative staff are equally affected.

The Aurora Office is your first point of contact for questions and interest in Aurora. At the same time, many other colleagues, both academic and administrative staff, are involved in Aurora activities - we are happy to connect you! 

The Aurora Alliance and its members offer academics a platform and institutionalized network for exchange, peer-learning and the (further) development of new teaching and learning formats and projects. Interested colleagues are supported in finding the right contacts at Aurora Universities for their projects and – where possible – also in the implementation of their ideas and visions.     

The goal is that all students, regardless of their chosen degree or level (Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral) can participate in Aurora activities. Participation can range from attending a single course (with corresponding contents/didactics, fellow international students and lecturers), to blended mobility formats or to completing entire semesters at Aurora partner universities.

An essential, overarching focus is to provide all students with the "skillset & mindset" that enables them to tackle the major global challenges in the sense of the SDGs.

In addition to the relevant professional skills that our students attain during their studies, university studies do also shape one’s very personal development: Horizons are broadened, skills are sharpened - especially those soft skills that are needed to meet the economic, social and cultural challenges of our time.

Aurora endeavours to develop and provide new tools and formats for this issue of skills development, which can be used by teachers and are reflected in the university's range of courses. This promotes the development of a "skills & mindset" in our students, which turns graduates of Aurora institutions into agents of social change.


The following criteria shall be understood as a starting point and will be refined in the course of the Alliance’s working programme, substantiated in terms of content and thus further developed in the sense of quality standards:

Criterion 1: Aurora teaching and learning units contribute to the students’ development of general academic and personal competences that will help them to act as social entrepreneurs and innovators.

Criterion 2: This contribution is visible in defined learning outcomes, the learning- and teaching environment and the assessment mechanisms.

Criterion 3: Aurora teaching and learning units have an interdisciplinary, cross-university approach to promote the societal impact of teaching and learning and make it visible. For the (further) development of corresponding teaching and learning units, this can mean, among other things, that the following are increasingly taken into account:

  • teaching / learning activities that promote the development of personal and social skills (e.g. service learning, internships)
  • use of interdisciplinary approaches
  • description of measurable learning outcomes in relation to the examination regulations
  • competence measurement (tests, external certification)

Criterion 4: Aurora teaching and learning units lie within (content, learning outcomes) at least one of the described pilot challenge domains, in relation to one of the 17 SDGs.

Criterion 5: Aurora teaching and learning units offer all students an opportunity to have a meaningful international experience, whether through virtual, short term physical mobility, internationalisation at home or a mixed approach (e.g. COIL).

Criterion 6: AURORA teaching and learning units strive to make internationalisation efforts inclusive.

Criterion 7: AURORA teaching and learning units facilitate increase in language proficiency in one and preferably two foreign languages.

For additional information, please visit our website for Materials and links.

A number of activities are currently underway (such as an alliance-wide questionnaire to identify courses/lecture leaders "willing to cooperate", or the adaptation of the teaching data management) in order to build up such a pool. If you are interested in a cooperation, you can also contact the Aurora Office of the University of Innsbruck at any time by e-mail at aurora@uibk.ac.at The establishment of a "matching platform", where interested parties can post the syllabi of their teaching and learning units - or even project ideas - is also being discussed.

Yes, all ideas are welcome! As far as funding is concerned, new mechanisms will be set up.

For teaching and learning units, that can be assigned to the module "Interdisciplinary Competencies" (Bachelor, Master) or "Generic Competencies" (Doctorate), a call for funding will be published in September 2021 for courses starting in the summer term of 2022.  (Information on the application).

The same applies to teaching and learning units that are part of a “core curriculum” and assigned to other compulsory and/or elective modules. In this case funding via “proLehre” will be possible (Information on the application).

If the number of applications exceed the available funding, a jury will decide upon the final selection. 

"Aurora teaching" takes place within the framework of regular studies (bachelor, master and doctoral studies), insofar it is of course recognized or counted as such.  Aurora teaching and learning units can be, for example, existing courses that are further developed in terms of content/topic and/or in terms of didactics/methodology (of course within the framework of the curricular requirements), or they can be completely newly developed. In the case of a new development, which e.g. does not find an allocation in the “subject-modules” of the curriculum, an allocation to the module "Interdisciplinary Competencies" (Bachelor, Master) or "Generic Competencies" (Doctorate) would be possible, provided that the curriculum provides this module.

Basically yes, even for mobile phases! Depending on the Aurora partners involved, different approaches are possible, such as blocked units or offers in otherwise lecture-free periods.

A graphic presentation of the Aurora Alliance academic calendar can be found here.

Yes, several tasks within the Aurora Alliance deal with these issues. Potential activities, such as individual staff training (courses), are being discussed and planned – or are already underway.


In addition to the regular calls for seed funding for collaborative research projects, for thematic winter or summer schools or research secondments, the Alliance offers a database of potentially usable  Research Resources at the partner universities, a Doctoral Committee Pool for PhD students and researchers and its own  SDG Research Dashboard  for tracking how the research of the individual partners contributes to the SDGs. An overview of the Research Support Offices at the partner universities is currently being developed to facilitate cooperation, and workshops for researchers are also regularly offered and information on MSCA calls is shared.

The Aurora Research Resources are listed in a common database of the Alliance and can be accessed online here. The resources listed in this database are subject to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Aurora partners, which enables the resources to be shared as free of charge as possible, and templates for research cooperation agreements are also made available on the website.

On the one hand, you can use the information available online, which can be found in the Aurora Research Resources Dataset, theAurora Doctoral Committee Pool or the  Aurora Doctoral Committee Pool. The overview of Research Support Offices, which is still under development, can also be helpful for this and otherwise it is always possible to submit a request to the Aurora-Office of the UIBK so that we can help in the search for potential research partners.

During the Erasmus+ funded project "Aurora 2030", calls for seed funding of collaborative research projects (up to €25,000 for two years and up to five funded projects per year), for thematic winter or summer schools (up to €20,000 and up to two funded schools per year) or research secondments (max. 3 months and up to ten funded secondments per year) are announced annually. These are open to all research areas in terms of content, but are based on the Aurora Research Hubs and must be submitted together with Aurora partners. More detailed information on the calls and the application forms can be found here (to be announced).

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