“Forthem in Brussels” – first digital workshop with the alliance regions

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021 a first digital kick-off workshop with representatives of all the seven Alliance regions took place upon the joint invitation of the Representation of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate to the Federal Government and to the European Union and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU).

The event was co-organized by Martina Krebs, Department for European and International Cooperation of the Rhineland-Palatinate State Chancellery, and Nicole Birkle, FIT FORTHEM Managing Coordinator.

Both welcome notes of the head of the Representation of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate to the EU in Brussels, Dr. Johanna Becker-Strunk, and the FIT FORTHEM Coordinator and JGU Vice President for Research and Early Career Academics, Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller-Stach, highlighted the opportunities offered by the formation of the FORTHEM Alliance and the implementation of its first major flagship project FIT FORTHEM for the regional development of the participating universities and their environment. They also emphasized that this workshop should only be considered as a starting point for a further intensive exchange with and between the regions.

In the course of the workshop, the 32 participants enjoyed a highly informative overview on the topic: The European Higher Education Alliances: Linking the European Education Area and the European Research Area: challenges, opportunities, development through introductory interventions by Stijn Delauré, Directorate General for Research and Innovation and Tine Delva, Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. Discussions with both these Commission representatives also provided important insights into the future funding of the European Universities Networks and the possibilities of acquiring additional grants.

In their presentation on FORTHEM and FIT FORTHEM, Tanja Herrmann, FORTHEM team leader at JGU, and Nicole Birkle highlighted how the FORTHEM Alliance could possibly start joint activities with the regions and added some ideas what may be the benefits both for the Alliance and the Alliance’s partnering regions.

In her closing remarks Martina Krebs, who hosted and moderated the event, invited all the participants to join the next digital and publicly open event on the new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation of the European Commission Horizon Europe in September 2021, which will again be co-organized by the Representation of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate to the Federal Government and to the European Union and the FIT FORTHEM team of JGU. We hope that in the future all of our regional representations in the countries involved and in Brussels will be interested in joint activities with FORTHEM and FIT FORTHEM, and will enter into an in-depth partnership with us and with each other.

As a first step to foster the cooperation, the strong preparedness of the Representation of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate in Brussels to support the FORTHEM Alliance in the future was expressed in a commitment letter signed by Johanna Becker-Strunk in the course of preparations for the workshop. The letter was sent to all workshop participants as a follow-up to the event.


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European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe.

The EHEO general plan stresses that:

  • Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected.
  • The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders.

Thus, EHEO plans:

  • improve academic and scientific interaction of universities;
  • protect the interests of universities;
  • interact more closely with public authorities of European countries;
  • popularize European higher education in the world;
  • develop academic mobility;
  • seek funding for European universities.