Unite! strengthens its leadership with two new vice presidents

The two vice-presidents are the rectors of two Unite! partner universities, Ilkka Niemelä from Aalto University and Daniel Crespo from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech.


Based on the feedback from the European Commission, Unite! has decided to strengthen its leadership and establish two new Vice President positions. President Ilkka Niemelä from Aalto University and Rector Daniel Crespo from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya were elected for these positions by the Academic Forum of Unite! on 29 November, 2022.

TU and Unite! President Professor Tanja Brühl.

Professor Tanja Brühl, President of TU Darmstadt, was elected to continue as the President of Unite!. Together with the new Unite! Vice Presidents she will be responsible for developing the strategy of Unite! further as well as overseeing and leading the governance of the alliance. The Vice Presidents will additionally support or substitute the President in official policy meetings and for media appearances.

Unite! and TU President Tanja Brühl: “I am honored to be given the opportunity to continue to serve as Unite! president for three more years and support the development of our alliance. Together with my colleagues Ilkka Niemelä and Daniel Crespo, I will work to implement our vision for Unite! 2030. We want to carry the great enthusiasm for Unite! into further networks at our universities and beyond. Unite! rests on our commitment and engagement. I like to invite all of you: Join in shaping the future of our alliance!”

Rector Daniel Crespo from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.
Rector Daniel Crespo from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

Rector Daniel Crespo: “Unite!'s decision to reinforce its governing team with two new vice-presidencies is a further sign of the will of all its members to strengthen the alliance. Incorporating into the leadership complementary visions and voices of how the European model of university, in which the nine partner universities are working, should move the alliance forward. I'm convinced that this path, which already outlines many of the opportunities allowing Unite! to progress in its projects with a stronger and richer vision, will also contribute to the transformation of the UPC. Therefore, as Vice-President of Unite! my commitment for the coming years is to bring the vision, knowledge and experience of our University to the governance of the alliance.”

President Ilkka Niemelä: “I’m honored to have been elected as one of the two Vice Presidents of Unite!. After the pilot phase started in 2019, the alliance is entering a new exiting stage of development guided by its Mission statement 2030 prepared by a concerted effort of the Unite! community. I’m looking forward to working together with Tanja and Daniel to drive the Unite! agenda to be a technology and innovation driver for the advancement of a green and digital Europe.”

The ambition of Unite! is to create a new European university model through shared education programmes, virtual and physical mobility, innovative pedagogical methods, and harmonized models of governance.


The European Universities Initiative

The European Universities Initiative was launched in 2019 to push for the establishment of a European Education Area by 2025. European Universities are transnational alliances of higher education institutions from across the EU that share a long-term strategy, promoting European values and identity. The initiative is designed to significantly strengthen student and staff mobility and to foster the quality, inclusion and competitiveness of European higher education.

In response to a first call of the Erasmus+ Programme in 2019, the first 17 alliances were selected for a 3-year pilot phase to lay the foundations for future European universities. Unite! has been among these first 17. Another 24 alliances followed in the 2nd call in 2020.

Unite!’s new funding starting end of 2022 falls into the calls of the further roll out of the European Universities Initiative. It plans to increase the number of European Universities to 60 with more than 500 universities by mid-2024, supported under Erasmus+ with an indicative budget of EUR 1.1 billion for the period 2021-2027. The aim is to develop and share a common long-term structural, sustainable and systemic cooperation on education, research and innovation, creating European inter-university campuses where students, staff and researchers from all parts of Europe can enjoy seamless mobility and create new knowledge together, across countries and disciplines.”