On 18th October 2019, the Arqus Rectors’ Council was formally established in Granada and the rectors signed the partnership agreement that defines the commitments and internal working procedures of the Alliance for the first three-year work plan. Two years have passed since then, and today we celebrate the substantial progress that has been made in a very special way: by sharing the summary video of the very first Arqus Annual Conference that took place in Vilnius University from 5th to 7th October.
From a qualitative point of view, Arqus has brought increased awareness of belonging to the European Higher Education Area, to the European Research Area and of European identity and values. Staff, both academic and professional, and students of all three cycles who would not always be involved in European and international activities have benefited from Arqus activities and calls, participating in events, courses and seminars organised by Arqus.
During these two years, Arqus has worked on Programmes for students with intellectual disabilities and cognitive impairments; three Joint Master Programmes are being developed; a lot of effort is being made in the creation of Mobility Windows and the Twinning actions for students and staff at all levels and subject areas. The universities of the Alliance have created a shared catalogue of more than 400 course offers open to Arqus students, for 40 languages and versatile intercultural key competences. The support to the early-stage researchers and young entrepreneurs has also been shown with the Mobility Programmes and capacity-building activities targeting these groups.
We can say now that Arqus is a transformational Alliance and this new model of university is being driven by innovative approaches to learning and teaching, by the teaching excellence initiative or by sharing best practices and resources. An alliance that impacts and transforms not only our institutions but, most importantly, our students and their learning experience. Arqus supports our communities by bringing together doctoral candidates and senior researchers across our institutions, by sharing research infrastructures or by analysing our potential for innovation as universities through HEInnovate, just to cite just a few concrete examples.
This transformation has also been unexpectedly impacted by the pandemic, which has undoubtedly led to the most encompassing digital transformation of our time. Arqus has learned a great deal from this experience as an Alliance, has incorporated new forms of collaborative work, all of which will complement other more traditional ways of working together in the future, leading surely to more environmentally-friendly, more efficient collaboration, without losing the essence of interpersonal links which are basic to the nature of our major missions.
Happy Arqus Day to everyone and thanks to all the students, academics, administrative staff and external stakeholders that are contributing to building bridges towards a shared future.