For our weekly “Ideas on Europe” editorial by UACES, the University Association for European Studies, we welcome Dr Natasza Styczynska again, from the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland.
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You are currently part of a pioneering higher education initiative. Tell us more about it.
Almost 25 years ago the Bologna Process was launched and in 2010 the European Higher Education Area started to function. The main idea behind the process was to create compatible and coherent higher education systems in Europe. The idea was received with scepticism by some, but also with a lot of enthusiasm, and since then many double and joint programmes have been created on the master level, as well as international training programmes.
What seemed much more difficult to set up were joint programmes on the Bachelor, or “BA” level, which were desirable but hard to achieve due to legal constraints.
But where most people only see the problem, we in our university see the challenge, and now I am talking to you right in the middle of the first semester of the first ever Joint BA in European Studies.
More than 250 students from 35 countries started their studies in the Una Europa Joint Bachelor of Arts in European Studies – in short “BAES” – on the 1st of October and are about to prepare for their first exams. As a team of academics from eight universities working on preparing the programme over almost 3 years, we are now excited to see it function.
To what extent is this programme unique?
It’s both the concept and the scope. The eight universities that make up the Una Europa university alliance have combined their expertise to create a unique multidisciplinary and multilingual curriculum based on high-quality teaching and exceptional student mobility opportunities.
During the course of their studies, students can choose among several specialisations and travel between 8 European universities in eight attractive cities – Krakow, Leuven, Madrid, Bologna, Helsinki, Berlin, Paris and Edinburgh.
This joint programme is the first realisation of the vision of a common European university announced by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017 and supported by the European Union institutions and member states.
And what do the students say?
The programme has met with an enthusiastic response from students. Henrik Arhold, the first student to register for the programme told us that he chose BAES because of the interdisciplinary approach and the mobility dimension. In his words, “having the flexibility of choosing your specialisations and the opportunity of studying in up to three different countries lays an excellent academic foundation for a students’ future professional and political lives in Europe and beyond.”
At EU!radio, you are well placed to know what it’s like to give multinational cohorts of students a European perspective. If I am well informed, you are currently recruiting your 33rd intake, right?
That’s true, but I’m relieved I don’t have 250 of them each time! Tell us about the contents of the study programme.
Over the three years, BAES students will study fundamental aspects and values of the European Union and European states and societies. They will learn to critically analyse Europe’s role in the world. Some of the courses have a common curriculum and are taught in a hybrid format at all degree-awarding universities.
Mobility is supposed to allow students to master European languages and immerse themselves in other cultures and feel all around Europe at home. In 2025 the first cohort will obtain their degree and be ready to start professional careers as public servants, experts in European affairs, civil society organisations or international institutions. Some of them will choose to continue their studies or obtain further practical skills – we are confident the BAES will provide a solid ground for both options.