On the 28 June (2024) a proposal for an Open European University that is “student-centred, inclusive, digital and green” has been supported by the European Commission with a grant of 14.4 million euros (nearly C$21 million).

What is the Open European University?

At the moment, it is mainly a collaborative arrangement between eight national and two campus-based open universities in the European Union:

The project is being led by the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) in Spain. The other core members besides UOC are:

Institutions from four other non-EU countries are also participating in the project:

In addition,  the following pan-European organisations will provide their experience and ability to publicize the results obtained:

Futhermore the following organizations will collaborate in the different initiatives that OpenEU wants to develop:


will help connect the alliance’s projects with local needs.

What will it do?

That is harder to answer from the publicity to date.

Its core mission is:

Establish a learner-centred, inclusive, digital and green open university with a European scope, widening access to quality higher education and lifelong learning to all.

Contribute to the digital transformation of Higher Education Institutions, supporting them in the integration of digital technologies for education, resulting in the reinforcement and invigoration of the EHEA’s digital dimension

It has 10 targets to be achieved within 4 years

  1. Build the foundations of a solid and sustainable European open university.
  2. Promote innovation in curricula, course delivery and assessment, with a firm commitment to micro-credentials that can be stacked and lead to official qualifications, equipping our learners with needs-based technical and non-technical transferable skills.
  3. Expand lifelong learning for employability across Europe, by providing both traditional and non-traditional students with tailored and flexible learning paths and the skills demanded by society and the labour market.
  4. Widen participation of traditionally underrepresented and disadvantaged groups in higher education, such as refugees and migrants, women in STEM, disabled people, or those living in underpopulated areas, rolling out solutions in response to their needs and strengthening competencies linked to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  5. Guarantee the quality of digital learning and innovative educational solutions through challenge-based, multidisciplinary research and innovation.
  6. Drive the digital transformation of higher education in Europe, sharing OpenEU’s experience, knowledge and resources with other universities.
  7. Broaden internationalization by creating and implementing innovative and flexible mobility options that let non-traditional students benefit from opportunities for international learning experiences.
  8. Enhance challenge-based knowledge generation, transfer and exchange, focusing on three key issues for Europe: the digital transformation, the climate emergency, and the threats to European values and democracy.
  9. Increase universities’ societal impact in education, research and innovation by engaging with the OpenEU communities and the labour market to establish collaborations with non-academic partners.
  10. Foster European values by establishing a shared culture in OpenEU that is based on the principles of quality, diversity, equity, inclusion, open knowledge and environmental sustainability to contribute to more resilient economies and societies.

My comments

I am 8,000 kilometres from Brussels, so all I have to go is the press release from the Open University of Catalonia. This appears on the face of it a very important movement towards a single European Open University, but it also raises many questions, such as:

  1. what is the added value of this initiative to what these institutions do individually in their own countries? In particular,
  • will this initiative enable credit transfer and recognition of credentials across and between countries?
  • the 10 targets would seem appropriate targets for each of the individual institutions – what extra value will the alliance add to achieving these targtes?
  • how will this initiative be governed? Who gets to vote – and about what?
  • how will it increase access for students beyond what each individual institution already provides?

Or are there other added value benefits that cannot be gained through the individual institutions involved?

Sorry to ask these questions, but without answers this could well be just another way for senior managers to travel around Europe on expenses. If anyone from the partner institutions would like to answer these questions please reply to tony.bates@ubc.ca


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