Edinburgh Global

Europe Day 2020: Edinburgh is a place for European Collaborations

On 9 May every year, we celebrate Europe Day, a day that applauds collaboration and shared community across Europe.

This year, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, we may not be together but we come together on Europe Day to recognise the impact that European collaboration and engagement has at the University, for our students our research and our alumni. It allows us to place a spotlight on our excellent engagement across Europe in research, recruitment, mobility and partnerships, and in particular our ongoing partnership with the Una Europa alliance, which sees us working towards creating the University of the Future alongside seven other leading research-intensive European Universities.

We look briefly at some of our European collaborations that we’re proud of:

Edinburgh is a place for European research

We spoke with Dr Marc Vendrell, who is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Imaging at the University, whilst also a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant holder. The ERC encourages the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and supports investigator-driven frontier research across all fields, on the basis of scientific excellence.

Dr Vendrell shares his experience on collaborating with European institutions: “My research group has several active collaborations with European institutions, including companies, universities and hospitals. We have been involved in multiple EU-funded projects, from personal scholarships and fellowships for students and postdocs to large research consortia working across sectors and disciplines. These partnerships have been essential to foster innovation in biomedical research as well as to find solutions for global challenges that would be intractable if we were working in isolation”.

This is a fantastic example of European collaboration that has been highly successful and beneficial to many in the biomedical field, while we continue to build on similar research partnerships across many different fields.

Dr Marc Vendrell
Dr Marc Vendrell

Edinburgh is a place for European Partnerships

We celebrate being an active member of European and international networks including the LERU (League of European Research Universities), the Coimbra Group, Eurolife, UNICA, Universitas 21, and the U7+ Alliance of over 30 universities from G7 countries.

As of 2019, the University joined KU Leuven, Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, Jagiellonian University, the University of Bologna, Freie Universität Berlin, Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the University of Helsinki as a member of Una Europa  Una Europa was established in response to the European Commission’s pilot call in the European Universities initiative and will see the universities work together on joint programmes and a joint strategy for research and innovation.

Our current Covid-induced isolation serves to remind us of how close we are to our European partners, what we share with them, and the importance of working with them through partnerships, networks and alliances to create innovations and insights that will enable us to put the present behind us and shape a better future.

Professor James SmithVice-President International

In reaction to the current Covid-19 crisis, the Una Europa alliance kicked of the cross-European student hackathon, UNA.TEN (Transform Emergency Now! 10 days for change), on 27 April. This is an open innovation design process aimed at developing solutions to address real challenges in Covid-19 post emergency times. Students at Edinburgh are teaming up with local partners to jointly find solutions to four Covid-related challenges, with students in all participating Una Europa partner universities doing the same. The hackathon will conclude just ahead of Europe Day, on 8 May.

By coupling challenge-based learning for society and virtual mobility, Una Europa will achieve “local impact through European collaboration”, said Professor Matteo Vignoli, the UNA.TEN Programme Coordinator. “Students will be working locally with local partners, but through our European ideation process and our virtual idea boards, we can be inspired by other ideas and bring global minds to a local challenge”.

Carmen Valenzuala Chapeton, a UNA.TEN student participant in the team rethinking culture and entertainment for Edinburgh festivals says, “My favourite part of the Una-Ten Challenge has been the collaboration. We've been allowed to build together Covid responses on a first-class collaborative platform, getting feedback from multiple backgrounds, points of view, and cultural perspectives. The connections across Europe are helping us develop innovative and inclusive projects.”

This is a particularly crucial time to come together and work in such a way that we are jointly finding solutions to problems that are affecting each and every one of us right now. We are extremely proud of our participating students and wish them well in their endeavors.

Edinburgh is a place for European academic experiences

The University has a long tradition of welcoming visiting students and staff from across Europe and the rest of the world to join our vibrant academic community whether through physical or virtual mobility of online learning and sharing of ideas and research. Our European communities of students enrich the University and we continue to welcome everyone to study with us. Watch the video below to hear the experiences of our postgraduate students.

Equally, many of our Edinburgh students enjoy their own European academic experience. Fourth year French and Spanish student, Róisín MacFarlane, said: “Academically, studying with a translation school in one language and then literature and history in another was definitely challenging but the experience has been invaluable for my fourth-year study. Overall it was like nothing I ever thought I would have the chance to do. I met so many new people from around the world, many of whom have become great friends.” We very much appreciate our diverse student and staff community that enable a positive international learning environment for all.

Edinburgh is a truly global university, but as we’ve briefly shown, our ties and partnerships with Europe are particularly important to our students, research, staff and alumni. We emphasise our ongoing commitment to international diversity and a community in which students and staff continue to feel valued and welcome. On this Europe Day 2020, we reflect on the strength of our European connections and are confident that these will support us through the challenging times ahead.

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