FORTHEM alliance of Mainz University and European partners submitted application in the European Universities Initiative

EU Commission will provide EUR 60 million for networks of world-class European universities / Pilot projects to begin in fall 2019

13 March 2019

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and its European partner universities in the FORTHEM alliance responded to a call from the EU Commission and submitted a joint concept for the pilot phase of the European Universities Initiative. The acronym FORTHEM stands for "Fostering Outreach within European Regions, Transnational Higher Education and Mobility: A pan-European living lab and integrative European University". The specific goal of the FORTHEM alliance between JGU and the University of Burgundy in France, the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, the University of Opole in Poland, the University of Palermo in Italy, the University of Latvia, and Universitat de València in Spain is to establish a new and innovative network that builds upon existing binational and trinational agreements between the participating universities. The FORTHEM network aims to merge the various mobility agreements, research programs, and dual and multiparty arrangements of the partner universities into a Transnational Higher Education Strategy by 2022 and to employ this across the alliance as a whole by 2025. A prominent example of such a binational arrangement is the German-French dual degree program offered by JGU and the University of Burgundy on Bachelor's, Master's, and Ph.D. level as well as in teacher training. Another example is the trinational Master's degree program in European Studies of the universities in Mainz, Dijon and Opole.

"Our FORTHEM alliance brings universities from northern and southern, western and eastern Europe together to build, expand, and implement the idea of a European Education Area by harmonizing existing courses of study, joint degrees, and the mutual recognition of diplomas and learning periods abroad," said Professor Stephan Jolie, Vice President for Learning and Teaching at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "JGU has established a world-wide network for learning and research, with about 1,000 alliances with 350 European partner universities in the Erasmus Program alone. As such, Mainz University embodies the European concept of freedom, common values, and fairness. It educates its students to become open-minded and responsible global citizens, and reflects and appreciates internationality and interculturalism in its research and teaching. One of the major objectives of our FORTHEM alliance is to counter the rise of nationalism and right-wing populism that we are currently seeing throughout Europe and to fight against hate, division, and isolation along national lines."

The EU Commission will provide a total of EUR 60 million to finance a pilot phase of the European Universities Initiative within the ERASMUS+ program starting in fall 2019. The idea of such European Universities goes back to the Initiative for Europe keynote speech of French President Emmanuel Macron at Sorbonne University in Paris on September 26, 2017. In his speech, Macron shared his vision of a united and democratic, sovereign and sustainable Europe in all its multilingualism and diversity in the areas of culture and education – in addition to the establishment of a common economic and currency area, shared security and migration policies, and a digital transformation and innovation strategy for all of Europe.

The EU Commission is planning a subsequent call for submissions for the program in 2020, encouraging the emergence of some 20 European Universities by 2024. This is part of the Commission's ambition to establish a European Education Area, which will enable all young people to receive the best education and training across the continent.