Eight European universities, all members of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU), sent a letter to the Heads of Government of their home countries. In this, they underline the importance of investing at least 25 percent of the European budget in education, research and innovation. This implies increasing the R&I budget to 160 billion euros and investing a further 90 billion euros in the successor of the Erasmus+ programme. For a competitive Europe, clear political choices are needed urgently, according to the universities.
The letter is timely, as the discussions about the future EU budget take place right now. The Heads of Government of the member states, in the EU Council, have a key role to play in the negotiations. According to the ECIU-universities, for the EU programmes Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+, a significant budget increase is of utmost importance. These programmes are broadly and clearly acknowledged for their European added value, and without them, the ECIU members could not have the impact they now have on both their regional and the European economy.
At the same time, the universities conclude that too many excellent research and innovation projects are not funded due to severe budgetary constraints in Horizon 2020. The limited budget of Erasmus+ hampers the achievement of its potential to increase the employability and competences of students and the workforce, and the quality and internationalisation of universities. It is because of this, the universities strongly support the call of the ‘High Level Group’ chaired by Pascal Lamy, for an increase in research budget for the coming seven years towards 160 billion euros. Europe’s inclusiveness and educational ambitions can only be met if the successor of ‘Erasmus+’ will have a budget of 90 billion euros, the ECIU members say. Moreover, there are great opportunities to designate other parts of the EU budget to support education, research and innovation.
ECIU is the leading international consortium of research intensive universities, with collective emphasis on innovation, creativity and societal impact, driving the development of a knowledge-based economy. They combine a strong position in their own region and an innovative international network. ‘Challenging conventional thinking’ is the joint motto of the universities.