The CHARM effect

On December 14, the eight rectors of the CHARM-EU European University gathered in Barcelona to sign the agreement integrating three new partners. With CHARM-EIGHT, a new project financed with 12.8 million euros by the European Union, the alliance, which now brings together seven universities and one school, hopes to expand its action and thus benefit a maximum number of students. 

" If I had to sum up our objectives for the coming years in two words, I would say : 'transforming effect'," says Gilles Subra, a teacher-researcher at the UM and CHARM-EU project manager. CHARM-EIGHT is the biggest project of the CHARM-EU alliance, the most structuring, the most emblematic . 12.8 million that Europe has granted 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 Ruhr West University, also located in Germany.

A master's degree to experiment

On December 14, the rectors of these eight institutions met in Barcelona to sign a new agreement and thus mark their willingness to fully deploy their action after the successful experimentation of the joint degree conferring a master's degree in "Global Challenges for Sustainable Development". " This European master's degree was not the goal of our alliance but the means, the object that allowed us to experiment with collaboration in multiple fields, to propose a mode of governance and to overcome the many barriers that exist when creating an alliance like ours," explains Gilles Subra.

Sharing tuition fees, granting joint degrees, student and faculty mobility, accounting for teaching hours, management of common money... Many issues have indeed been put on the table. " These last two years have allowed us to learn how to work together, to acquire not only a practice of interculturality but also confidence in our mutual institutions. Now that these foundations have been laid, we are going to make sure that the alliance has a real impact," continues the teacher.

Make a real impact

While the first class of the European master's program currently includes about 70 students, the CHARM-EIGHT project aims to reach at least 50% of students enrolled in the eight partner universities and schools. " This can be mobility, participation in a common EU or summer school, 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 the bachelor's and master's levels should also be introduced. Doctoral training will also benefit from the CHARM effect, with a greater openness to the international scene and the development of interdisciplinary doctorates. As for the original European Master's degree, it will be perpetuated, enriched with new themes and probably opened to apprenticeships.

CHARM-EIGHT also wants to reach out to a wider audience of teachers and researchers. While up until now there have been about twenty of them involved in the master's teaching team, the famous " knowledges creative teams", new "ambassadors" have been recruited in the UFR, schools and institutes. " The idea is for them to act as relays to activate the alliance whenever possible and thus multiply the opportunities for their students and the staff of all the components. For example, this may involve identifying new recruitment pools for existing courses, internship sites, but also promoting mobility, including for University staff. Our wish is to encourage and support all types of collaboration within the alliance, not only at the educational level, but also in terms of research projects. Today, some fifteen teachers from different faculties are already active in the various Charm workpackages.

Entering normal operation

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

Virtual offices, or joint virtual administrative offices, shared by the eight partners of the alliance, should also be set up in order to offer the various target audiences one-stop shops where they can submit their requests and ask their questions. This formula has already been successfully tested within the framework of the CHARM master program. " This virtual office is managed by a staff member from each university and functions as a single point of entry for all requests: registrations, mobility requests, student grades, or tracking of teachers' hours. 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 do not want the benefits of this alliance to be limited to a select few. We want to show that every student, whatever their profile, will be able to benefit from this new international campus . Courses will also soon be offered in different languages, not just English.

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