November 21, 2022

The Young Universities for the Future of European Alliance continues to move forward: their best practices!

The Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) Alliance brings together ten dynamic, young research based universities from as many European countries and two partners from the private sector. Together, the YUFE partners work to pioneer a radical transformation of higher education in Europe by developing the leading model of a young, student-centred, non-elitist, open and inclusive European University. Students actively co-create and are at the centre of everything YUFE does.

The YUFE Alliance strives to establish a holistic European University that is active in education, research and innovation and enhances the collaboration of academia, business, society and decision makers (quadruple helix). 


YUFE Student Journey is one of the initiatives developed by the Alliance, lead by Maastricht University with co-leads University of Antwerp and University of Rijeka

Student Journey

Young Universities for the Future of Europeoffers students the possibility to put together a personalised curriculum, based on physical and virtual mobility to 10 universities in Europe. The programme named Student Journey comprises of academic courses in a variety of academic fields, language courses, professional training and volunteering at 10 different universities and their local communities. This structure ensures that students taking part in the Student Journey have opportunities not only for academic learning, but also for personal development and acquisition of soft (or transversal) skills and competences. Students can freely choose to follow courses on site or online, which provides flexible entry points to the Student Journey. 

The programme is offered to students who are already registered with one of the YUFE partner universities, which means that the students already enrolled in an academic program at their respective university. They can choose to participate in YUFE courses and activities by integrating them in their curriculum (intra-curricular), as an extension or complement to their curriculum (extra-curricular) or as a combination of both. This allows students to put together a personalised learning trajectory that meets their intrinsic interests and adds to their learning experience. In this way, YUFE enables students to broaden their academic development as well as their skills development, embedding all of this within an international experience. 

Between 2020 and 2022, YUFE enrolled the first three cohorts of students and currently there are > 600 students from all 10 partner universities benefitting from the YUFE Student Journey, with an additional > 100 alumni so far. 


Three-layered approach

Now that Young Universities for the Future of Europe have created a broad and inclusive base with the Student Journey by offering the possibility to students from all academic programs to create their own European curriculum, it is time to extend the educational offer in the near future. The next step will be the creation of YUFE Minor programmes and –further down the road – a YUFE Bachelor. As in the current offer, in both programmes the combination of international academic education, skills and language training, and a personalized learning trajectory will be emphasised.

>> Find out more about the YUFE vision and mission on their website. <<


YUFE Challenge Teams and YUFE Entrepreneurial training are some of the activities taking place under the umbrella of YUFE Innovation and Entrepreneurship, lead by Universidad Carlos III Madrid with co-lead University of Cyprus 

The YUFE Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiatives aim to support  two specific objectives of the Alliance, that are i) to bring together innovation and entrepreneurship expertise and infrastructures present in all YUFE regions, and ii) to build a multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral community of experts to mentor and train young Europeans to collaborate across sectors and nations. Both objectives enhance not only regional innovation capacity but a more effective approach to societal challenges.

These specific objectives led to the development of the framework shown in the following illustration (Fig, 1). This framework embraces a Quadruple Helix approach under the YUFE Innovation and Entrepreneurship perspective. 

The structure and subsequent programmes and activities developed within the structure, emerge from the inspiration from all YUFE partners’ best practices but with own definition and identity. The  most advanced are related to entrepreneurial mindset and training, currently running the second edition, named as: YUFE Challenge Teams and YUFE Entrepreneurial training programme.

Figure 1.  YUFE Innovation and Entrepreneurship framework

YUFE Challenge Teams

The YUFE Challenge Teams can be defined as multi-agent teams involved in a multidisciplinary approach addressing a concrete social, scientific or technological challenge and bringing a degree of novelty or innovation to the proposed solution(s). The teams are multinational, work online and the expected execution lasts 12 weeks (approx.). The pilot of two challenges brought two main conclusions:

  • YUFE Challenge Teams is an innovative methodology based on the active participation of the agents of the Quadruple Helix model. It provides a very intense and satisfactory experience for students and participants, where the importance is the learning process.
  • The YUFE Challenge Teams is a successful problems-based learning initiative that also brings an opportunity for integration into YUFE curricular activities.


YUFE Entrepreneurial training programme

The YUFE Entrepreneurial training programme deploys MOOCs, Talkshows, and a YUFEthon (2 days – online event of teamwork on a challenge). The expected workload for completion is60h (free work) divided between the three activities; this will provide a YUFE Professional Start, which recognises and awards the training and gained skills. 

As an example, the screenshot of the winning team of the first YUFEthon: five students, from five different YUFE universities, and different knowledge fields, that met and worked together for two days to provide a solution to a given challenge.

The number of enrolled participants in the Entrepreneurial initiatives rises to over 60.  The general satisfaction shown by both participants and staff is high, with a lot of enthusiasm to accomplish further achievements.

Figure 2. YUFEthon winnig team



1 YUFE academic partners are: Maastricht University (coordinating institution) – The Netherlands, University of Antwerp – Belgium, University of Bremen – Germany, University of Carlos III de Madrid – Spain, University of Cyprus – Cyprus, University of Eastern Finland – Finland, University of Essex – United Kingdom, Tor Vergata University of Rome – Italy, University of Rijeka – Croatia, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun – Poland.

2 YUFE non- academic partners are The Adecco Group France and Educational Testing Service.

3 Besides the Erasmus+ grant, YUFE also received funding for YUFE Transforming R&I through Europe-wide KNowledGe Transfer, Hands-on traning on Open science and Open Innovation for ECRs, and Hands-on traning on Open science and pen Innovation for ECRs.

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