On the way to the European University: high-level panel discussion in Berlin highlights opportunities

The h_da is a unique German pioneer with its objective of becoming a European university. The long-term aim is to merge completely with its eight partners in the European University of Technology (EUt+). The question of how such a transnational university could be constituted was the focal point of a high-level panel discussion held on Thursday, 14 December, at the invitation of Lucia Puttrich, Minister for Federal and European Affairs in the Hessian State Representation in Berlin.

Challenges on the most varied levels have to be resolved before a merger of this nature can go ahead. They include specific questions about recognising academic achievements and degrees in all participating countries, along with clarification of funding for the university. Representatives of the institutions involved took part in the discussion in Berlin – ranging from the European Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research to the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts.

All the participants agreed that a strong European university area was an important precondition for the Union to continue growing together, but also for economic prosperity in the regions. There is no precedent for a transnational European university. The institutional and legal prerequisites therefore have to be put in place first, from which other university alliances could also benefit in due course.

Federalism was an important topic of discussion. Several participants stressed that both within Germany and in the European Union, responsibility for educational issues was consciously shared across many shoulders. However, a joint European university would break with that principle. A new legal status would therefore have to be found for the funding bodies – which leads directly to the question of how the financing would be regulated among the nine participating countries. Legal issues about the employment of staff also have to be clarified. And from the students’ point of view, above all the recognition of degrees is important; in fact for engineering subjects, in which all nine universities in the EUt+ are specialised, each country currently has different regulations.

The discussion also covered the large advantages and opportunities offered by a common European university. For example, the idea of a common, permeable European research area would be revitalised. There would also be an opportunity to establish a European-style understanding of technology. At the same time, the merger would boost visibility in the international rankings of the best universities, and the students would be able to spend each semester in a different country or virtually attend lectures and seminars from anywhere in Europe.

Top-level panellists: the European Commission sent Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, Director General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, and Tine Delva, Deputy Head of Unit Higher Education. Dr Jens Brandenburg, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, represented the German Government, and Ayse Asar, State Secretary in the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts, presented the positions of the Hessian State Government.


The Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (h_da) and its eight partner universities from all over Europe are working jointly on the vision of a new kind of university – the “European university”. Since 2020, the project of growing together to form the “European University of Technology” (EUt+) has been supported by the European Commission. The alliance aims to be one of the first technology-oriented European universities, making a contribution to further European integration and at EU level developing into a dynamic player at the interface between society, politics, business and science. In the areas of teaching, research and transfer, the cooperation between the nine partners is being intensified on all levels. A special focus is placed on questions of sustainability. The European Commission would like the European Universities Initiative to contribute to the creation of a European Education Area and provides funding for up to 60 such university networks.

The nine partners in the EUT+