Global Relations

In order to ensure Europe’s global connectivity, and to keep abreast of global higher education development trends, EUA is in continued dialogue with partners outside of Europe. The Association has consistently pushed for a global dimension of European higher education by building a joint European approach for international collaboration, supporting institutional internationalisation and promoting European higher education to its global partners. It is also in official partnership with UNESCO (associate status).

European universities have a wide range of international contacts and academic collaborations with partner institutions around the world. With the consolidation of the European Higher Education Area came the realisation that Europe is increasingly attractive globally, both as a study destination and as a partner for exchange. In parallel, the global race for talent has accelerated, and European universities have increasingly focused on positioning their education and research offer internationally.

Internationalisation is a strategic goal of European governments and universities, with priority placed on student and staff mobility, cross-border partnerships and learning and teaching approaches. EUA supports the institutional development of internationalisation through a variety of projects and memberships services. It is also actively engaged in global policy dialogues and collaboration between Europe and other world regions, including the EU Neighbourhood. EUA laid down its own approach in 2006 in its International Agenda – which may have been the first ever European-level higher education strategy. While since then a lot of progress has been made in internationalisation, and the overall context has changed, the principles of the International Agenda continue to guide EUA’s exchange and collaboration with international partners.

  • Africa

    EUA keeps links with the Association of African Universities (AAU) with whom it endorsed a joint Statement on Europe-Africa higher education cooperation, outlining the commitments of the two organisations. It has also been following the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership.

    Together with AAU and other partners, EUA mapped the various ways in which universities are contributing to the development agenda, and issued a White Paper: Africa-Europe Higher Education Cooperation for Development , with several principles for European universities engaging with partners in emerging economies, in Africa and beyond. Since then EUA and AAU continued their partnership under the EU-funded HAQAA initiative, mainly meant to develop a pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation System (2016-2018).

    EUA is also involved as a partner in the Yebo! project, which focuses on further developing the internationalisation of doctoral education in South African universities.

  • The Americas

    EUA maintains relations with both the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Universities Canada.

    Since 1989, the three associations have gathered higher education institutional leaders (presidents, rectors and chancellors) from Europe, Canada and the United States for a Transatlantic Dialogue, to discuss and share perspectives on current higher education issues and policy developments.

    In Latin America, EUA has participated in a number of initiatives aimed at higher education integration, harmonisation and enhanced cooperation and exchange. EUA started a dialogue with the Consejo Universitario Iberoamericano (CUIB) in 2004, to work towards the creation of an integrated higher education and research area between EU and the Latin American and Caribbean countries (LAC region). Over the years, EUA has also collaborated on projects with a number of organisations such as the Observatorio de las Relaciones Union Europea America Latina (OBREAL) and LAC university associations.

    EUA also follows the process between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in which higher education, research, technology and innovation have been assigned priority. In 2017, it became the main European partner in a related stakeholder process, in close collaboration with LAC partner organisations and the EU-LAC Foundation.

  • Arab countries

    The Arab-Euro Conference on Higher Education (AECHE) is a joint initiative of the Association of Arab Universities (AARU) and EUA, supported by members and partners to promote dialogue, mutual understanding, and increased cooperation between Arab and European universities.

    Launched in 2013 at the University of Barcelona, AECHE organises thematic conferences and promotes policy exchange between the two regions. In 2017, the Mohammed V University in Morocco hosted the 4th AECHE Conference, which focused on research collaboration and capacity building among Arab and European universities.

  • Asia

    To generate dialogue and sustainable relations between Asian and European institutions, EUA has taken up several initiatives with Asian partners. From 2008-2009, EUA led a European Commission funded project “EU-Asia Higher Education Platform” (EAHEP) organising thematic workshops, roundtables, symposia and European higher education fairs across Asia and Europe. More recently, EUA partnered in an initiative “European Union Support to Higher Education in the Asean Region”. (2015-2018).

    Furthermore, EUA has been active in the ASEM Education Process, and has contributed to the Asia-Europe Foundation’s Rectors’ conferences, together with other university associations.

    In addition, EUA has been an active stakeholder in the EU-China dialogue for many years, among others under the EU-China Higher level People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD).

  • EU Neighbourhood

    EUA has a large membership far beyond the EU, including 122 institutions in EU Neighbourhood and accession countries, as well as 32 institutions in Russia and Kazakhstan. These higher education institutions participate in EUA events and projects and contribute to the community of European universities.

    Higher education and research play a key role in fostering cooperation between the European Union

    and its neighbours. Universities build bridges across political, cultural and economic borders through student and staff mobility, research collaborations, and through studying and teaching foreign cultures. The Association works towards improving higher education in the whole region, using the advantage of its diversity with a common purpose.

  • EU-UK and EU-Swiss relations

    The UK and Switzerland are closely engaged with the rest of Europe. Both are part of the Bologna Process and have roles in the European Research Area. The UK is a former member of the European Union and now has a structured relationship based on the various agreements and unilateral decisions, including association to the Horizon Europe Programme. Switzerland has been associated to the framework programmes for research as well as to the Erasmus+ Programme in the past but is now in a period of transition in its relation to the EU.

    EUA has been working to ensure continued cooperation between universities in the two countries and in the rest of Europe. During the Brexit negotiations, the Association published several briefings and advocated in Brussels for association of the UK to EU programmes. Likewise for Switzerland, EUA is arguing for continued association to particularly the Horizon Europe Programme.

  • International Trade Agreements

    EUA monitors the international trade agreements that the European Commission negotiates with third country partners and regions. While such agreements do not necessarily include higher education, neither do they automatically exclude it.

    Article 1.3 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) excludes “any services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority [and supplied] neither on a commercial basis nor in competition with one or more service suppliers”.

    How such services are defined is nevertheless open to interpretation. As higher education institutions explore diverse funding streams, the distinctions between public, private, not-for-profit and for-profit are increasingly unclear.

    EUA, the American Council of Education (ACE), Universities Canada and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) issued a Joint Declaration on Higher Education and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in 2001. In 2015, the EUA Board declared that higher education benefits individuals, society and the world at large in ways that are not easily quantifiable. It is a public responsibility to which all citizens have right of access and not a commodity to be transacted by commercial interests on a for-profit basis. It should not be subject to international trade regimes.


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  • Yebo!

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    Modernisation of Institutional Management of Innovation and Research in Southern Neighbouring Countries The MIMIR project is part of a cooperation process between Arab and European universities aimed at...
  • HAQAA Initiative

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    Framework for the Internationalisation of Doctoral Education (2012-2015) The FRINDOC project is managed by a consortium of six partners, coordinated by EUA, and consisting...

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