University of Maribor is a member of the ATHENA European University project.
ATHENA European University – Advanced Technology Higher Education Network Alliance is one of the 41 new European universities approved in the EU Erasmus+ call. ATHENA aims to be recognised as a high-quality standard in the European Higher Education Area, where education will be linked to distinguished research achievements. In this way, ATHENA will contribute to accelerating the transition of knowledge to innovative environments and targeting societal challenges. ATHENA is an alliance of medium-sized universities from seven European countries: France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal and Slovenia.
The University of Maribor is coordinating activities for establishing an integrated research area, enabling researchers to develop joint projects aligned with strategic goals of the European Higher Education and Research Area. Activities will be supported by a Cooperation model for R&D, a Webpage for researchers, and a Catalogue of shared resources and research capacities. An annual publication of ATHENA’s research achievements – ATHENA Research Book, will be produced.
Within the three-year project, a fully functioning ATHENA European University will be established. In the pilot phase, the University of Maribor contributes to the development of common multidisciplinary modules and curricula, supported by combined and actual mobility schemes (for the time being in electrical engineering, electronics and computer science fields). In all areas of education and research, the use of modern digital tools and technologies for distance learning environments is foreseen, considering the experience gained by the partners in the COVID-19 pandemic. Such learning environments will be able to identify students’ individual needs and provide quality support for lifelong learning.
Achievements in the first year of the ATHENA project
Catalogue: Mapping R&D Fields and Cooperation Opportunities
The University of Maribor has developed an online tool for researchers – Catalogue: Mapping R&D Fields and Cooperation Opportunities, which tracks the research capacities of the Alliance members, classified by R&D topics. Using the directory, research groups can find and get to know other ATHENA research groups to develop joint research ideas and projects while presenting themselves. At the organisational level, the Cooperation Model for R&D will further support the networking of researchers and increase their reach as well as the impact of existing research potentials through single entry points at the Alliance members.
Signing a declaration of common goals
The University of Maribor held the first live ATHENA partners’ meeting (27. September – 1. October 2021). At the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council, the rectors and coordinators of ATHENA attended a meeting of the Secretaries of State and Directors of Higher Education and Research, where the rectors signed a Declaration of joint objectives. Project coordinators, who mainly collaborate online, had for the first time the opportunity to meet face-to-face and present their work, proposals and expectations to the rectors of the partner institutions. The meetings helped to align the project objectives further and thus the capacity to achieve them. The structure of the European University’s governance bodies was also confirmed.
A training week was held at the University of Maribor (22. – 26. November 2021), where the International Cooperation Offices of the Alliance members met and developed an information package for potential students of the ATHENA European University. International offices’ representatives addressed the cooperation challenges regarding different academic calendars, support services and external contexts that make study and research at each partner institution challenging. The meeting also marked the official launch of the ATHENA International Office.