This year, Swiss universities can participate in European University alliances as -associated partners- for the first time. The University of Bern joined ENLIGHT, an alliance of comprehensive, research-intensive universities, on 1 December 2022.
Swiss universities are fighting to retain their connections to European networks. They do so under difficult conditions since Switzerland was excluded from Horizon Europe and Erasmus+. Now Swiss universities have the opportunity to join European University alliances as "associated partners" (see info box below). ENLIGHT is a European University alliance that consists of nine comprehensive, research-intensive universities based in Ghent (Belgium), Tartu (Estonia), Bordeaux (France), Göttingen , Galway (Ireland), Groningen (Netherlands), Uppsala (Sweden), Bratislava (Slovakia), and the Basque Country (Spain). On 1 December 2022, the University of Bern was elected as associated member member by the ENLIGHT Governing Board.
ENLIGHT envisions a seamless mobility and knowledge creation between its member universities. They implement a wide range of exchange opportunities and promote transdisciplinary learning in order to prepare students for the challenges of an interconnected world. "Even though our researchers still urgently need Switzerland's association to Horizon Europe, to be part of the most important research network in the world, joining ENLIGHT is an important step for us to retain our connections in Europe and promote exchanges as well as cooperation," said Christian Leumann, Rector of the University of Bern.
Cooperation in research, teaching and mobility
ENLIGHT universities cooperate closely in areas where the University of Bern can contribute actively, such as health, climate change, digitization or renewable energy. ENLIGHT members work together to create conditions where research can flourish and collaborate closely in learning and teaching.
"ENLIGHT membership is an opportunity for the University of Bern to remain an active part in a rapidly-changing European higher education landscape," said Virginia Richter, Vice Rector for Development at the University of Bern.
"As a comprehensive university with a strong research focus, the University of Bern is an ideal extra member for ENLIGHT, fully matching our vision is to break down barriers to shared learning and research between universities. In this way, we want to enable students to tackle the societal challenges of today as well as of tomorrow," said Guido Van Huylenbroeck, Director for Internationalisation of Ghent University and project coordinator of ENLIGHT Erasmus+.
Six member universities of ENLIGHT, including the University of Bern, are also members of The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities , an association of 21 renowned research-intensive European universities in 16 countries. The Guild represents its member universities, researchers and students in Brussels, whereas the European University alliances work towards shared campus activities. "Joining ENLIGHT usefully complements our membership in The Guild and strengthens our presence in Europe," added Virginia Richter.