Category: news

Putting puzzles together

Putting puzzles together

The end of the year 2023 is approaching. This also brings us closer to the end of two consecutive mandates as Co-Chairs of UnILiON. It was challenging, but rewarding to be in the lead of this informal network for and by members, supporting them to grow, gain visibility and professionalise. We took the motto ‘as flexible as possible and as structured as necessary’ as our guiding principle. Bringing the sharing of intelligence to the next level, enhancing the visibility of the network externally, streamlining activities and creating more transparent internal processes is what we focussed on. We tried to bring change along these lines not only by developing cooperation with other networks and reserving sufficient time in the UnILiON CORE meetings to the round table, but also by integrating in the UnILiON guidelines the spirit of the network and supporting the hosts of the UnILiON Open Talks to open these up for colleagues in the “Brussels’ bubble”.

For those who are interested in more detail, please look at the UnILiON 2023 review presented by co chairs. It was a privilege to watch the intelligence sharing processes taking place in UnILiON meetings from a helicopter view: colleagues putting pieces of the puzzle together, trying to understand where they fitted in the European research, education and innovation policy developments. Or simply figuring out how to understand them. UnILiON provides opportunities and chances to learn from each other’s backgrounds and experiences and make incredibly rich connections in intelligence sharing processes.

We experienced co-chairing definitively as something positive for ourselves, being able to rely on someone giving us faith and bring joy, but more important for the network, bringing in more expertise and hands to get the job done. It felt like natural to form a professional team and having fun together while getting the job done.

As Co-Chairs, we would not have been able to deliver without our Secretariat team members. We are grateful that we have been able to work closely with enthusiastic and pleasant colleagues in the UnILiON Secretariat. Together, we made the network move forward. None of the network’s activities could have taken place without the energy, time and enthusiasm of UnILiON members. Seeing this steady and active involvement of so many members, we are confident that the future of the UnILiON network is assured from January onwards.

We are looking forward to continuing our cooperation, but now from the backbench. We would like to thank the UnILiON members again for having given us the trust to guide the network for two years. At a professional level, it allowed us to strengthen our personal intercultural communication, leadership and negotiation skills. It was a hard work, but rewarding and energizing adventure to put UnILiON puzzles together. After this important milestone, we are eager to create new opportunities to work together in other ways from 2024 onwards.

Wendy Sonneveld, Ghent University and Karl Stoeckel, Aix Marseille University


UnILiON Annual Event – Science for policy, getting the most impact out of Europe’s universities in an increasingly complex world

UnILiON Annual Event – Science for policy, getting the most impact out of Europe’s universities in an increasingly complex world

Join the next UnILiON Annual Event!  High-level executives of UnILiON member universities, European policy-makers, and stakeholders in the education, research, and innovation sector will share their views and experiences on Science for policy.

Scientific research plays a crucial role in providing policy-makers with the evidence and knowledge needed to guide their decisions and shape policies for the benefit of the entire society. With this in mind, the conference will address three main questions:

  • How are universities contributing to addressing todays’ challenges, from their local environment to the European and global scales? How can they be further supported?
  • How can we learn to foster the dialogue between scientists and policy-makers?
  • How can we continue building trustworthiness in science towards decision-making bodies and society as a whole?

Different actors with different backgrounds will discuss the importance of the contamination of different fields – science, economic, law, social, art and design, communication etc. – that helps to sustain the research evidence-based solutions to face present and future challenges.

Opening statements:

  • Salla Saastamoinen, Deputy Director-General, Joint Research Centre
  • Alessandro Allegra, Coordinator of Science for Policy activities in the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission
  • Prof. Paolo Lugli, Rector, Free University of Bozen/Bolzano

Panel discussion:

  • Salla Saastamoinen, Deputy Director-General, Joint Research Centre
  • Alessandro Allegra, Coordinator of Science for Policy activities in the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission
  • Muriel Attané, Secretary General of EARTO
  • Prof. Ariel Mendez, Vice-President for Law, Economics, and Management Aix-Marseille University
  • Prof. Paolo Lugli, Rector, Free University Bozen/Bolzano
  • Prof. Péter Sziklai, Vice-Rector, Eötvös Loránd University

Moderator: Massimo Busuoli, Director of NTNU Brussels Office

We look forward to seeing you in Brussels on 28 November from 15:00 to 18:30!

Register here

The organisation team of this year’s UnILiON annual event consists of the Brussels offices of the following universities:

Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE)

Aix-Marseille University

Maastricht University

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Helsinki EU Office

Politecnico di Torino

Slovenian Business and Research Association

University Alliance Stockholm Trio

Galician Enterprise-University Foundation (FEUGA)

University of Extremadura

University Rey Juan Carlos – University of Alcalá

Lärosäten Syd (Universities in South Sweden)

University of Kent

Universities as key players for the success of the New European framework for research careers

Universities as key players for the success of the New European framework for research careers

On 13 July 2023, the European Commission unveiled a set of proposals and measures to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA), including

• a Council Recommendation that establishes a new European framework for research careers,
• a new Charter for Researchers, replacing the 2005 Charter and Code for Researchers with new and revised principles
• and a European Competence Framework for Researchers (ResearchComp).

Universities are the main “producers” and attractors of research talent. They educate and train the next generation of researchers, and they offer a wide range of research opportunities. They are key players in  the innovation ecosystem. They work closely with businesses and other organizations to develop and transfer new technologies to the market. Universities are also engines of economic growth and social development. They attract investment and talent, and they help to create new businesses and jobs.

The European Commission’s proposal is designed to create a more attractive and supportive environment for research, innovation, and entrepreneurial talent in Europe. It includes a number of measures that will benefit universities, such as:
•Investing in research and innovation: the proposal calls for increased investment in research and innovation, which will create more opportunities for researchers and innovators.
•Improving the research career path: the proposal includes measures to make the research career path more attractive and stable, such as by promoting open recruitment and transparent career progression criteria.
•Supporting entrepreneurial researchers: the proposal includes measures to support entrepreneurial researchers, such as by providing access to funding and mentorship programmes.

Thanks so much to Manuel Aleixo (European Commission – DG RTD) and Carolina Cañibano (CSIC), for their highly interesting speech the UnILiON – Universities Informal Liaison Offices Network Open Talk “Universities as key players for the success of the New European framework for research careers“.

Karl STOECKEL and Ignasi Salvado also want to thank all the audience, for their questions, debate and networking afterwards. While Manuel Aleixo presented briefly the new framework and how the negotiations between the Commission and the Council are going, Carolina exposed her research on Research careers some very interesting conceptual topics, through the presentation tittled “Career governance in European Universities – conceptual considerations”.

AixMarseille Université and Alianza 4 Universidades (with Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) were really proud to organise the event, host such excellent speakers and moderate the debate. We hope you all enjoyed it.

The presentation is available here: Presentation.
The event is hosted by the Brussels offices of Aix Marseille and 4Allianza Universidades.

UnILiON Open Talk – Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA)

UnILiON Open Talk – Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA)

On Tuesday 13 June the UnILiON Open Talk held at Wales House focused on the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA) with a presentation from Dr James Morris, Senior Policy Office at Science Europe.

James outlined how the CoARA initiative has developed from calls to reform research assessment in recent years with reports published by the European University Association (EUA) and the European Commission focusing on this area leading to a Commission scoping report in 2021. During 2022 Science Europe and the EUA with support from the European Commission worked to draft an agreement on research assessment reform informed by discussions with representatives from national organisations, research organisations and others.  The agreement was published in July 2022 and the Coalition came into formal existence in December 2022 with the election of a Steering Board drawn from a mix of research funders, universities and other organisations across Europe.

The introduction to the agreement outlines the rationale for this work: ‘There is broad agreement among the research community that research assessment practices need to be reformed.

This is due to a variety of interconnected underlying reasons, including:

  • to allow research assessment to support positive research cultures.
  • to ensure assessment practices stay relevant as research processes and the expectations of research evolve.
  • to live up to the increasing demands placed on research by the many societal, environmental, democratic, and economic challenges we face.

While the motivations behind this process may differ, they all point in the same direction: reform is needed, primarily to further support the quality of research.

The Agreement has four main commitments:

‘Two commitments to enable better recognition of the diverse practices and activities that maximise th quality of research

Two commitments to enable a move away from the inappropriate uses of metrics

  • Recognise the diversity of contributions to, and careers in, research in accordance with the needs and the nature of the research
  • Base research assessment primarily on qualitative evaluation for which peer-review is central, supported by responsible use of quantitative indicators 
  • Abandon the inappropriate uses in research assessment of journal- and publication-based metrics, in particular the inappropriate uses of journal impact factor (JIF) and h-index 
  • Avoid the use of rankings of research organisations in research assessment’   

Over the last six months work has been undertaken to develop a work programme and develop ideas for working groups in a range of different areas as well as national level activities. There are now just over 500 member organisations of the coalition. The CoARA General Assembly will be taking place in Brussels on 23 June and there will be more opportunities to participate and engage through webinars and conferences over the next few years.

For UnILiON members it was suggested that they should consider, if their university was not already a member or signatory, whether their university should engage and participate in relevant national and European discussions. UnILiON looks forward to further engagement with the initiative as it develops.

For further information and to follow CoARA developments –