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First FORTHEM presidency meeting at the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland



FORTHEM Alliance was created in 2018 and received the status and funding of a European University in 2019. After a successful four years of working together, the seven initial member universities were joined by two more and offered further funding by the European Commission. This second funding period for FORTHEM Alliance has come with some major structural changes including a new governmental body called “FORTHEM Presidency”.

The first meeting of the FORTHEM Presidency
This two-day event on 5th and 6th June, brought together rectors, vice-rectors and FORTHEM coordinators from the nine partner universities as well as representatives of FORTHEM Student Council

After four years of intense cooperation, FORTHEM Alliance has become an important part of the day-to-day activities and guiding strategies within each of the nine member universities. The Alliance has also reached out and created strong partnerships outside the universities within each of the nine countries: Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Romania and Spain.

FORTHEM Alliance has many success stories to share. So far, 39 collective short-term mobility events have been organised, involving 813 students. There have been four semester-long FORTHEM Campus events with rotating host universities, hundreds of staff mobilities and semester-long student exchanges and dozens of joint research and academic outputs. We’ve set up well-functioning Labs (expert teams) dealing with societal concerns such as climate and resources or diversity and migration.

The geographical and thematic enlargement of the FORTHEM Alliance required a new governance structure, revised in 2022. The new governing body 'Presidency' unites all nine presidents and rectors. The first Presidency meeting was the opportunity for the heads of the nine universities to review the successes and lessons learned from the first funding period and to further strengthen their universities’ institutional commitment to the Alliance and discuss the overarching strategy that will ensure FORTHEM Alliance continues to be innovative and is sustainable for the coming years. 

Some of the many subjects on the agenda was:

  • FORTHEM achievements since 2018
  • national context and policy surrounding the place of alliances in higher education.
  • key topics and priorities on the national level
  • complimentary national funding for alliances
  • FORTHEM Alliance’s long-term ambitions
  • strategy and risk management

There was also plenty of opportunities for informal discussions and networking, for example during the dinner hosted by the Mayor of Jyväskylä, Timo Koivisto.

The Rector of the University of Jyväskylä, Marja-Leena Laakso, is the chair of FORTHEM Presidency. This is why the very first Presidency Meeting is organised on the campus of her university. The position of the vice-chair is held by the Rector of the University of Valencia, Maria Vicenta Mestre Escriva, who will be the chair for the year 2024.

Prof. Fabio Mazzola, Vice Rector for Education and International Affairs of the University of Palermo and Dott. Valeria Floriano, Head of the International Relation Office took part to the meeting.

Prof. Mazzola said: “The first Rector's meeting of FORTHEM has set the basis for important progress in the evolution of the Alliance. I have been particularly satisfied with the overall discussion emerged in the meeting: it tackled important issues concerning strategy, institutional framework and, ultimately, opportunities and risks in the management of the Alliance by setting immediate priorities that would guide the action of the different bodies in the first phase of the new project”.

FORTHEM Alliance was one of the very first groups of universities chosen by the European Commission to form a European University. It has now welcomed two more universities and has proposed to achieve many important milestones over the next phase.

FORTHEM in numbers 
9 universities
232 000 students 
32000 staff 
A brief description of FORTHEM 
FORTHEM Alliance brings together a new generation of creative Europeans able to cooperate across languages, borders and disciplines to address the societal challenges and skills shortages Europe faces. FORTHEM is a network of nine multidisciplinary public research universities with a strong regional anchoring. We share a long history of cooperation and are experimenting new innovative forms of collaboration with the aim of creating a permanent multilateral and European cooperation environment. We believe our model will facilitate innovativeness in education and a close linkage between education, research and innovation. Our goal is to educate open-minded European citizens committed to our common democratic values, together solving the obstacles for seamless student and staff mobility and providing students with 21st century skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, flexibility, self-direction and good communication skills because we believe in intercultural dialogue and in Europe’s multiculturalism and multilingualism.

Jocelyne Gérard
T. 0033 (0)6 88 30 30 80

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