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Tilburg University kicks off second phase of ENGAGE.EU

Published: 01st February 2024 Last updated: 01st February 2024

Develop and experience new forms of academic collaboration and exchange of ideas in Europe: that’s what ENGAGE.EU is all about. This consortium of nine European universities now officially enters its second phase. Since 2019, the alliance allows students and staff to virtually and physically move around between European campuses and work together to further stimulate Europe’s capacity for innovation and dealing with today’s societal challenges.

For students, researchers and staff  

The inter-university campus ENGAGE.EU is an increasingly growing vibrant place for students and staff who are looking for international opportunities. Numerous formats are giving students and staff opportunities to acquire international skills and competences. Activities cover summer schools, joint programmes, internships and for example international career support. In our ENGAGE.EU Labs, students, lifelong learners, researchers, and external organizations work together on societal challenges. PhD students and early career researchers are invited to join the training modules and exchange opportunities.  

Flagship of the European strategy  

European University alliances take a front runner’s role in transnational partnerships aiming for innovation and transformation. The first evaluations show they are successful in moving towards further integration of education and research in Europe. By mid-2024 the European Union will fund 60 European Universities alliances involving more than 500 higher education institutions. This is 10% of the total number of universities in Europe.  

As for ENGAGE.EU, the European Commission was impressed by the work done so far in ENGAGE.EU and highly ranked the proposal for a continuation. Also, the Dutch Ministry of Education provides funding for these partnerships to Dutch universities and hereby recognizing the need for more effective partnerships within Europe. 

Contributing to the TiU strategy  

'Connected' is one of Tilburg University's core values. Our university believes that it should be connected to its environment. And that environment extends beyond the borders of Midden Brabant, as rector magnificus Wim van de Donk stated at the kick-off event for phase 2. “Let us realize that ‘our’ academic community nowadays is built up of connections locally, regionally, and internationally. The strategic collaboration within the alliance ENGAGE.EU contributes to prepare the university for the next centennial.” 

“ENGAGE.EU is our connection to other European universities and the European Union. It therefore connects very well with our own strategy of international embeddedness and societal impact. Involving a wide range of our community, it provides opportunities for strategic dialogues, benchmarking and most important, a possibility for our students and staff to gain international experience’.  

Jantine Schuit, vice Rector Magnificus shared some of her ENGAGE.EU experiences during the kick-off event. ‘The meeting I joined with other rectors and vice rectors were very inspiring. As university leaders we are confronted with similar challenges, but come up with different solutions. Partly because of the  institutional perspectives and other contexts. These exchanges broaden my view on my daily work’ 

Complicated yet inspiring 

Implementing a wide range of activities in a multilateral partnership is not an easy path. For most activities, we need to reach consensus for many aspects. From number of students to credit recognition, online teaching and modes of exams.  

Jörg Raab, who was recently appointed as academic lead of ENGAGE.EU: “Bringing together the different viewpoints and reach consensus both on the ENGAGE level and in our own university is the complicated yet inspiring part. Only when we work together, we can achieve things that we could never achieve on our own but are important for our university and benefit our students, colleagues, and our societal partners.” 

“Introducing new formats and models challenges existing structures within our university, in the national system and between universities. We should therefore focus on the activities that represent this added value for us but also use them to realize innovation within our own university. He further stresses the special character of the project: “Basically, this is a living lab, as testing area. Along the way, we will learn which rules which presently hinder mobility and collaboration with European colleagues in education, research and impact can be adjusted and which formats and activities will be successful?” 

Join in

To find out more about ENGAGE.EU or ways to join, please contact Jorg Raab (academic lead) at j.raab@tilburguniversity.edu or Guido van Leerzem (institutional coordinator) at g.vanleerzem@tilburguniversity.edu.