The CHARM effect

On December 14, the eight rectors of CHARM-EU European University gathered in Barcelona to sign the agreement integrating three new partners. With CHARM-EIGHT, a new project financed to the tune of 12.8 million euros by the European Union, the alliance, which now brings together seven universities and one school, aims to extend its activities to benefit as many students as possible. 

" If I had to sum up our objectives for the coming years in two words, I'd say 'transforming effect'," says Gilles Subra, lecturer and researcher at UM and CHARM EU project manager. CHARM-EIGHT is the biggest project in the CHARM-EU alliance, the most structuring, the most emblematic . It's also the most well-funded, since Europe has allocated a budget of 12.8 million euros to this European university alliance, which now includes eight partners thanks to the addition of the Finnish Abo Akademi University, the German Julius Maximilians University in Würzburg and the Hochschule Ruhr West, also in Germany.

A master's degree for experimentation

On December 14, the rectors of these eight institutions met in Barcelona to sign a new agreement, marking their determination to fully deploy their action following the successful experimentation of the joint Master's degree "Global Challenges for Sustainable Development". " This European Master's degree was not the goal of our alliance, but the means and object that enabled us to experiment with collaboration in a wide range of fields, to propose a mode of governance and to overcome the many barriers that exist when creating an alliance such as ours ", explains Gilles Subra.

Sharing tuition fees, awarding joint degrees, mobility of students and lecturers, accounting for teaching hours, management of joint funds... Many issues have indeed been put on the table. " These last two years have enabled us to learn how to work together, to acquire not only intercultural skills but also confidence in each other's institutions. Now that these foundations have been laid, we're going to make sure that the alliance has a real impact," continues the teacher.

Making a real impact

While some 70 students have already taken part in the first class of the European Master's program, the CHARM-EIGHT project aims to involve at least 50% of students enrolled at the eight partner universities and schools. " This could involve mobility, participation in a joint EU course or summer university, access to an internship - in short, all the opportunities that the CHARM-EU alliance can provide," explains Gilles Subra. New joint courses based on innovative teaching methods, at bachelor's and master's level, should also see the light of day. Doctoral training will also benefit from the CHARM effect, with greater international openness and the development of interdisciplinary doctorates. As for the original European Master's degree, it will be continued, enriched with new themes and probably opened up to apprenticeships.

CHARM-EIGHT is also aiming to reach a wider audience of teachers, lecturers and researchers. Up until now, around twenty of them have been involved in the master's teaching team - the famous " knowledges creative teams" - but new "ambassadors" have now been recruited in the UFRs, schools and institutes. " The idea is for them to act as relays to activate the alliance whenever possible, thereby multiplying opportunities for their students and staff from all the components. This may involve identifying new recruitment pools for existing courses, or internship sites, but also promoting mobility, including for University staff. Our aim is to encourage and support all types of collaboration within the alliance, not only in terms of teaching, but also in terms of research projects. Today, some fifteen teachers from various faculties are already active in the various Charm workpackages.

Enter normal operation

To achieve these objectives, the CHARM team plans to deploy within each department of the University of Montpellier. In concrete terms, staff will soon be recruited for CHARM, so that most departments will have an agent to work jointly on CHARM and UM projects. We hope that CHARM will no longer be a separate project, but that it will become a major structuring project aligned with the University's other projects, reinforcing their international dimension, and that it will become part of normal operations," explains Gilles Subra. Given the diversity of the objectives, we need to have agents in the Communications Department, DIPA, DFE, DRED, DSIN...".

Joint virtual administrative offices, shared by the eight alliance partners, should also be set up to provide the various target audiences with a one-stop shop for their requests and questions. A formula already successfully tested within the CHARM master program. " This virtual office is managed by a staff member at each university, and functions as a single point of entry for all requests: registrations, mobility requests, student grades or teacher time tracking. It's something that works very well."

A strong identity

With this project, the CHARM-EU alliance affirms more than ever the singularity of a strong identity built on values of inclusion, multiculturalism, interdisciplinarity and accessibility to all. " We don't want the benefits of this alliance to accrue only to a select few. We want to show that every student, whatever their profile, can benefit from this new international campus ". Courses will also soon be offered in a range of languages, not just English.

Partnerships between the alliance and other universities in South America and Africa will be developed within the CHARM-EIGHT framework, for example with the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Finally, special attention will also be paid to the civic dimension, with a workpackage led by the University of Montpellier dedicated to relations with local authorities, civil society, associations, etc. " We want the CHARM-EU alliance to be a driving force in establishing an international network of privileged partnerships in all fields, linking our campuses and our territories ," concludes Gilles Subra.