May 25, 2023

As universities, we must and we will collaborate

Internationalisation is the future of education, of research, and innovation. It is a key strategy an organisation must develop and invest in for encouraging its people to create through the transfer and exchange of knowledge, through mobility and cooperation.

In today’s reality we do not have the luxury of anticipating the change, we must predict it. Ideally, we even have to be part of the making of a positive and impactful change.

Universities -by nature- interact with their polymorphic community (students, academics, researchers, administrative staff) and also with associates within their local community, the country they operate in and partners from all over the world. This broad networking culture has as ultimate goals the exchange of ideas, the continuous pursuit of knowledge and learning, the evolvement of existing research, innovation and also the inspiration of young generations and the society in general.

Research programs funded by the European Union, consortiums and teams created for contributing to the expansion of knowledge, as well as for inventing and developing useful applications have transformed our lives. While celebrating Europe Day, we actually rejoice a dynamic partnership that has helped us alter for the better our way of living. Coming from a small country, Cyprus, the European Union has given us more security and frameworks for societal improvement. Especially for academic establishments I truly believe EU has given us opportunities we never had before for growth and the chance to gain funding for research and for building collaborations from resources not available in the past. At universities, we learn not only in the teaching classrooms but also through actively participating in new research projects and innovative endeavors. Moreover, the Erasmus + program has given to the young Europeans the unique opportunity to expand their horizons and realize the beauty of Europe and the world.

Through our participation in the YERUN network we have learned a lot, gained a lot. Indicatively, I may showcase our strong collaboration in HR matters for openly and creatively discussing issues regarding career development and leadership in academia, aiming in sharing best and innovative practices regarding academic career assessment. Moreover, the University of Cyprus actively participates in the YERUN ad-hoc Sustainable Development Goals group, where peers from member Universities share best practices on how different initiatives and structures contribute to the realisation and enhancement of the global sustainable Development Goals.

 A country cannot thrive isolated∙ communication with its neighbors and allies across the world is essential and an outward-looking approach is necessary, as we live in a globalized world. The European Universities Initiative is with no doubt an experiment and a challenge. A challenge to prove that through collaboration universities and their unique communities can flourish and influence our societies in a meaningful way. This is why we are part of the family of one of the first alliances formed to establish a European University, the alliance of the Young Universities for the Future of Europe – YUFE.

Where there is ground for collaboration, there is ground for creativity and evolution. In an international environment isolation and an inward-looking approach are only limiting the potential of an organization, of a country and its people. In the world we live in, mobility, communication and sharing ideas, visions and knowledge are a promise for bettering it.

What is the purpose of a university if not to inspire and prepare their students for the future? If not to contribute to the development of the society it operates in through research and innovation and through productive dialogue and interventions? If not to promote the power of collaboration and enhancement of the values of diversity, inclusion and equality? Internationalization and collaboration are essential in a university’s attempt to achieve its multiple objectives. No one could or should bare the weight of tackling global challenges on their own. For achieving sustainability and growth, for getting closer to enhancing the sustainable development goals we must and will as universities collaborate regionally and internationally.

Prof. Tasos Christofides, Rector of the University of Cyprus

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