International Conference on Academic Freedom

Universities have come under increasing pressures in recent times from many directions – even challenging a central pillar of university life – namely academic freedom. This forms the theme of the international conference linked to the 25th anniversary weekend. Academic Freedom: New Times, New Challenges, will involve a number of keynote speakers discussing the range of growing pressures on universities today. While those in Turkey, in Poland and some in Hungary are in the front rank facing such pressures, all our Universities are having to confront the new student-led pressure to create ‘safe spaces’ without ‘extremist’ speakers. Cuts in public expenditure, linked to increasing demands for vocational and other ‘priority’ forms of education, form yet another threat to University autonomy. Finally, the search for new contracts from business and industry, can also force universities to adjust research priorities and goals. Participants and speakers will include rectors and deputy rectors from all 13 Europaeum partners, as well as some 50 select Europaeum alumni. The keynote session on September 15th will include a leader of the ‘Umbrella Movement’, straight from Hong Kong, and e Radosław Sikorski (Senior Fellow, Harvard and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland), Zsolt Enyedi (Pro-Rector, Central European University, our newest Europaeum member). Please see the poster here. Please note that the Friday session is now booked full, but you are very WELCOME for the Saturday follow up. For the Saturday poster see here and for the programme see here. On Saturday, additional speakers will include Voldemar Tomusk (Open Society Institute), Bharam Beckharadnia (Higher Education Policy Forum), Professor Denis Noble (Campaign for Science and Engineering) and Alan Rusbridger (who championed the Wikileaks information as former editor-in-chief of The Guardian).

Quotes-of-the-Month July 2017

Universities today have to equip their students to move confidently in an international environment. The formation of academic networks across frontier boundaries will assist in this and prepare them to be citizens who are able to make a greater effort than others and to assume greater responsibilities”

Helmut Kohl, former German Chancellor, d 2017



At Oxford we’re really pleased about the young scholars who we gain from the Jenkins Scholarship Fund […] they help to make the university the very special place it is.” (2014)

– Lord (Chris) Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University (2003-), European Commissioner for External Relations 


Demos Helsinki

Demos Helsinki i

This is a think tank dedicated to the ‘smarter usage’ of human capabilities and natural resources. A central theme of Demos is democracy and capabilities, particularly analysis of the welfare-state model in Finland, which, though remarkably successful over the decades, has been ever-changing with new methodologies needed to adapt. Another key theme is resource-smart economies – focus on sustainable resource management is vital, and needs to incorporate balancing population growth, production and consumption. Recent publications include Humancentric governance through experiments, which examines the usage of behavioural approaches and experiments into government policies to make them more efficient; Refugees for co-creative cities, which argues for a re-thinking of the accommodation of refugees in Europe; and Scenarios for the future of work. Recent projects include a seminar series on immigration, and the Building Zero Waste Society project. Demos Helsinki was founded in 2005 and is entirely responsible for funding all of its own projects. The Director of Democracy and Capabilities is Johannes Koponen, and the Executive Director is Tuuli Kaskinen.

New joint MA in European Politics and Society to be launched

A formal new MA led by Charles University is to be launched in the autumn on European Politics and Society linked to other Europaeum universities, Leiden, Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, and the Jagellonian University Cracow. This follows the success of a bid to the European Commission to gain support and backing via Erasmus Mundus. The registering cohort of perhaps 20 graduates will begin their studies together at Charles University, and then continue their studies at one of the other partner universities. A joint diploma will be issued by the universities involved, as well as the Europaeum and graduates will be able to attend the well-known Spring School, which takes place each year at Oxford University. Professor Lenka Rovna and her team which has secured the EU support report that applications for this new programme are picking up very successfully. The course is an out-growth from the Europaeum’s Vaclav Havel Programme, which links Charles, Paris 1, Leiden together with Cracow and Barcelona set to join. It involves a first year at their host university and a third trimestre at a partner institution. The two programmes are set up to continue side by side with the new programme marking an important step forward in the Europaeum’s joint teaching initiative, serving as an ‘international university without walls’.

LEIDEN: Researchers find UK universities to suffer Brexit fallout

UK university-indstury links ‘set to suffer’ after Brexit

Large research-intensive universities in the UK are most at risk of having their collaborative links with industry damaged by Brexit, according to a report with the title UK Universities Interacting with Industry: Patterns of research collaboration and inter-sectoral mobility of academic researchers. This report was presented at the Centre for Global Higher Education’s annual conference on the 1st of March in London by Professor Robert Tijssen and Dr Alfredo Yegros from Leiden University. Together with a third author, Wout Lamers, also from Leiden, they have been measuring the relations between British universities and industry, with a particular focus on academic collaboration with companies based in other EU member states. They found that 24% of academic-industry connections among the 47 most research-active British universities were with companies in the EU, an average of 40% of the co-publications with foreign companies included at least one firm located in an EU member state. Speaking to University World News, Tijssen said: ‘There are several reasons why research links with European companies would be at risk from Brexit. In the case of European Commission-funded research, UK universities are likely to have less access to European Union funding and it will be harder for them to be research project coordinators. They might have to renew or renegotiate contractual arrangements, notably on intellectual property rights issues, that are now covered by standardised European R&D contracts that apply equally to all member states.’

Based on a story by Nic Mitchell (02-03-2017):

SUMMER SCHOOL : Graduates explore surge in populism

More than 35 graduates from all over Europe and beyond participated in our lively annual Europaeum Summer School held early in July in the historic Escorial Palace area near Madrid, focussing on the apparent crisis in democracy, particularly the rise of new populism, from the Left as well as the Right. Discussions covered the collapse of traditional political parties, broken leadership tropes, protest voting, the rise of the outsider, demagogues, independents, opprobrium against establishment elites, and the anti-politics against politicians and systems. Please see the final programme here and the full list of participants here. Among highlights were keynote talks from Professors Eva Anduiza (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Anthony Arblaster (Sheffield/Oxford), Manuel Muñiz (IE University), Enrique Baron Crespo (former President of the European Parliament), David Ellwood (Bologna/SAIS); a public debate involving all participants, role playing, and working group reports. Please see here summary biographies of keynote speakers, and see abstracts of papers presented by graduates here. Feedback is very positive, and the Europaeum event is already deemed one of the highlights of the whole Escorial summer programme.


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Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream…

Summer is often about water, and one of our graduates on the Europaeum MA in European History programme took up the challenge literally every morning at 6 am for the first six weeks of his Oxford module of the course – rowing fifth seat for his Mansfield College Second VIII. Albert van Wijngaarden (pictured far right rowing and centre in the main picture) had never rowed before but found it exhilarating. His boat did well over the four days of summer inter-college competitions, avoiding been caught (bumped) by any following crew and managing to bump one boat in front. “It was just such a great experience.  Rowing gave me a unique insight into the real Oxford student life and I made loads of friends, he said. ” I finally understood the obsession when we passed the boathouses, where thousands of people, standing three lines deep, cheered us on,” he added. Row on !

More Europaeum partners expand MOOCs offers

Europaeum members enter into world of MOOCs

MOOCs – massive open online courses – have been discussed regularly in our bulletins over the past two to three years. Now, Oxford, which had stood steadfastedly against MOOCs has launched its first MOOC on Poverty, from its Blavatnik School of Governance, which attracted over 40,000 participants globally. Most other Europaeum partners have a long involvement in this form of innovative distance learning. – something for everyone and invariably free. Leiden offered its first MOOC in 2013 and its variety and offer has been steadily increasing, 19 programmes today ranging from evolution to music to law and security, recording 480,000 participants from 196 countries.  Paris has since 2015 offered 10 courses – most in French. Barcelona has been active since 2014, with 19 MOOCs on offer ranging from microscopy to the Middle Ages to 21st century entrepreneurship, with  180.000 participants. The Complutense, too, has launched 7 MOOCs, mostly, while the Graduate Institute (IHEID) launched its first-ever MOOC early in 2017, on the topic of Globalisation, with a second MOOC on Global Governance scheduled to open in November. The Jagiellonian launched its first MOOC on European Culture and Politics just last October, drawing more than 10,000 learners from across the globe. Due to its success, the course will be repeated in 2017 as well. At the University of HelsinkiMOOC courses were opened in 2015 and many are offered in both English and Finnish. Finally the LMU Munich is exploring new forms of collaborative learning through its MOOCS, freely available on the Coursera platform. Please see our full survey of the offer of Europaeum partners in our latest Fact Survey review here.

Photo-of-the-Month July 2017

Graduates pictured shortly before their Lisbon debate

Graduates are pictured relaxing in the gardens of the Palacio Hotel in Lisbon, shortly before pickung up the cudgels to take part in the Europaeum’s annual Graduate Debate as part of the Estoril Forum on Defending the Rule of Law. From left to right: Kwaku Adomako (MA in Anthropology, Geneva), Dr Paul Flather (Secretary-General, Europaeum), Jaroslava Barbieri (MPhil in European Politics, Oxford), Parham Farhang Vesal (PhD in International Law, Geneva), Alexandra Cajo (PhD in Political Studies, Cracow), and Daniela Rodriguez (BA in Political Science and International Relations, Lisbon). The graduates debated the question Does the new wave of populism threaten the balance of our democracies? They were joined by a range of experts who contributed to the debate, in front of an audience of some 150 international participants. Please see the full event programme, organised and hosted by our partners from the Political Studies Institute at Catholica University, Lisbon, here.

PRAGUE: Rector defends rights of anarchist student

The Rector of the Charles University, Professor Tomáš Zima, has stepped into a row over the threatened expulsion of a Russian anarchist student, whose student visa has been revoked by the Czech authorities. In an open letter to Interior the Czech Minister Milan Chovanc (ČSSD), the Rector argues that the move against the student, Igor Ševcov, was “totally disproportionate”. Ševcov was originally indicted for throwing ‘fire bottles’ at the House of the Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnický (ANO), though in the end he was charged only with keeping look-out for his colleagues who were spraying slogans. He was banned from public demonstrations for three years. According to supportive news sources, his visa was revoked due to an administrative error related to the earlier charges. The Rector is now appealing to return his visa, for fear that his life would be threatened in Russia. Professor Zima argues that Ševcov has already been politically persecuted in Russia, and would face further persecution for his political views, and lose his chance to finish his studies at the Faculty of Philosophy, where he is seen as a diligent student. In his recent annual University address, Professor Zima promised to defend truth, democracy and freedom.