In the Council Conclusions of the Competitiveness Council on the future governance of the ERA from 26 November 2021, EU research ministers recognise the ERA Forum as the body responsible for enhancing coordination towards the effective implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda, supporting the Commission and the Member States in the delivery of the ERA Actions. As such, the ERA Forum involves stakeholder representatives.
Together with fellow associations representing the university sector, UAS4EUROPE is contributing to the implementation of the ERA as a member of the “ERA University Associations Group”. The group members collaborate with the objective of presenting the voice of Europe’s universities in an open and inclusive informal group and in the context of the ERA Forum.
With eleven total members, the group aims to gather concrete and shared recommendations from the sector and provide coordinated input to the ERA Forum. The ERA University Associations Group members are: AURORA, CESAER, Coimbra Group, ECIU, EUA, EuroTech Universities Alliance, SPARC Europe (since June 2022), The Guild, UAS4EUROPE, UNICA and YERUN.
The group serves to ensure a coordinated representation of the European university sector in the new ERA governance.
The initiative comes in response to the 2020 Commission Communication “A new ERA for Research and Innovation“, the 2021 Council Recommendation “Pact for research and innovation in Europe” and the Conclusions “Future governance of the European Research Area“.
In the Conclusions, the Council defined twenty ERA Actions in an ERA Policy Agenda 2022-24 and introduced the ‘ERA Forum’ as the “body, established by the Commission, responsible for enhancing coordination towards the effective implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda, supporting the Commission and the Member States in the delivery of the ERA Actions”.
The Council further defined that the ERA Forum should “ensure representative involvement at its relevant meetings of EU-level umbrella organisations or other appropriate representative organisations relevant at EU level (…)”. The document defines seven types of stakeholder groups, including higher education institutions.
Following several deliberations in the ERA Forum between the Commission, the Member States and the stakeholders, 18 out of the initially 20 ERA Actions are open to commitments by all ERA Forum members. We as UAS4EUROPE support all 18 policy actions to strengthen the renewed European Research Area, and we support all the commitments of the rest of the Higher Education sector in advancing many policy actions. As an alliance of Universities of Applied Sciences, we focus on five actions where we believe we can have the most significant impact.
Action 3: Advance towards the reform of the Assessment System for research, researchers and institutions to improve their quality, performance and impact
Research assessment should take into account the various ways of evaluating quality of research work and its outputs. A broader reform of research assessment methods is key for the work of our institutions and our researchers, in order to promote impact-focused and practitioner-oriented research activities as well as engagement with society. We actively contribute to the coalition on reforming research assessment.
We urge member states to commit to this action, and we offer to commit to :
- Participating in a Mutual Learning Exercise (MLE) on reform of research assessment and conducive national frameworks
- Stimulating participation of the national/regional evaluation agencies and of the main national research funders to the Coalition
- Participating in periodic exchanges between the ERA Forum and the Coalition to reform research assessment
- Participating in exchanges with the Coalition members from my country
- Supporting Coalition members from my country in the design, piloting and implementation of reformed research assessment criteria, tools and processes
Knowledge valorisation is a key mission of Universities of Applied Sciences, as our focus is applied research with all local and regional innovation ecosystem actors. We strongly support the policy action on knowledge valorisation and we commit to
- Supporting the uptake of the future Code of Practice for the smart use of IP and the future Code of Practice for researchers on standardisation by contributing to their diffusion and promoting their use among all R&I ecosystem actors,
- Engaging in sharing of best practices on knowledge valorisation, e.g. through the Knowledge Valorisation Platform and organising peer-learning activities, e.g. through the EU Knowledge Valorisation Week
As institutions focused on applied research and skills development that promotes the sustainable development of the regions that we serve, we are highly committed to contributing to the acceleration of the green and digital transition of Europe’s key industrial ecosystems. This is indeed a core task of our member institutions at the regional level, in particular working with industry to adapt to the twin transitions through knowledge transfer and skills development. We strongly endorse an effort to do so in a coordinated fashion at EU level.
We commit to a strong
- participation in a Mutual Learning Exercise (MLE) (and workshops),
- contribution to the road-mapping of technology infrastructures,
- contribution to the piloting of technology infrastructure strategy through implementation of the provisional activities identified for the pilot areas (e.g. access, training, engagement with stakeholders), contribution to a consultation with a view to establishing the scope, workplan and deliverables for the activities of action 12 (i.e. designing and planning Member States' input and cooperation),
- contribution to the implementation of the activities 2023-24, in particular through
- Exchange of best practices
- Participation in workshops
- Organising events
- Stakeholder consultations, collecting input and validation of results analysis
Action 13: Empowering higher education institutions to develop in line with the ERA, and in synergy with the European Education Area
As Higher Education institutions focused on applied research and practice-oriented education, we strongly support the objective of raising excellence in science and value creation of Europe’s higher education sector through cooperation, and in particular contribute to empowering higher education institutions in Europe as key actors of change in the twin green and digital transitions.
We commit to contribute by:
- Participating in a Mutual Learning Exercise (MLE) to set up excellence initiatives at national level in support of higher education institutions (participation either for supply or demand side),
- Appointing a representative to a Task Force with experts to explore and co-design a joint support mechanism for alliances of higher education institutions.
As Higher Education Institutions with mandates to support regional development and focus on impact-oriented research, we strongly support the objective of addressing the disparity between countries and regions in the EU in terms of R&I performance. We hope to contribute to fully mobilizing research, innovation and technological capacities in all regions across Europe, including the less developed countries and regions.
We commit to:
- Provide guidance and support for the reform of national research and innovation systems,
- Provide support and feedback for 'initiatives for excellence in research and innovation',
- Provide guidance for European and national efforts aimed at empowering research institutions to be more attractive to international talents