The Brussels connection




In Brussels, we work together with Neth-ER, the Netherlands House of Education and Research, as well as with the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands and other stakeholders. They know what's next on the EU agenda, and the EUR then has to decide how to respond to this while reflecting on its own ambitions, for example to find links to the three Erasmus initiatives.

An international university has to be well embedded in both European and global networks in order to ensure that it can participate in prestigious project within the overall European research programmes, thereby demonstrating that its research and teaching are of European and global calibre. Winning funding is, in fact, a highly competitive process and if you’re successful, then you really show that internationally, you’re a winner. 

A truly international student feels completely at home in this environment: a fish in water. He or she is comfortable working in different languages, working together with other nationalities, and is eager to enrich his/her own research skills and knowledge by participating in international projects and exchanges.

Interview with Olga Wessels

Netherlands house for Education and Research (Neth-ER)


Frontier post

Neth-ER is the frontier post of Dutch education in Brussels. We inform the Dutch education field about European developments in the field of research, innovation and education in a number of ways; our website, a weekly newsletter via Twitter (@NethERbxl) and mailing lists on research, education or health. We also support the European advocacy of the Dutch education field, for example (the successors) of HORIZON 2020 and Erasmus +.

Neth-ER has twelve members, including, for example, EP Nuffic, NWO and the VSNU. The EUR is an affiliate by virtue of its VSNU membership and is entitled to services, such as use of our meeting rooms in the heart of the European district and opportunities to attend and participate in seminars, counselling, and to receive information and bespoke advice.

The successor to Erasmus+

Things are exciting at the moment in Brussels, the distribution of the European budget for the years after 2020 will be announced this year. This will have major consequences for the scope of the programme that is to succeed Erasmus +, and thus determining the opportunities for student / faculty mobility and cooperation in Europe in the field of education. EUR is very involved in the Erasmus + programme, so what happens in Brussels is very important to us!

In addition, this year is the mid-term evaluation of the Erasmus + programme. The outcome of this review has implications for the future of European cooperation in the field of education. An opportunity arising from this is that experts in this field can contribute to the evaluation, by completing the feedback form.

Opportunities in Europe

To make the most of Europe’s opportunities, a number of things are important for the EUR:

  • a recognised profile among European stakeholders (Urbanization ?! that’s one of EUR’s specialties!).
  • connections with European networks. It’s important to be aware of what’s going on and what’s happening in your field. In addition, in order to influence policy effectively: as a single university, you might not have a strong enough voice, but as an association of several "similar" universities then you have more power. A single network is usually not enough: the EUR has (hopefully) gained a lot from being associated with Neth-ER and the EUA, but we are certainly not complete in our information provision, and can therefore only promote EUR interests to a limited extent, as we always have to find a middle ground between the interests of our various members.
  • be visible: a single return trip to Brussels isn’t enough to maintain a network and be visible as a university or researcher.
  • be on time: in Brussels, the programmes are announced early on and the processes are generally quite slow: you have to be there on time if you want to exert your influence on a specific programme.

The internationalisation of higher education

How important is internationalisation for higher education? Given the current technological developments and globalisation, the internationalisation of education is inevitable. For example, for the mobility of students and staff, partnerships at programme level, and for the quality and comparability of curricula. Neth-ER can really add value once the EUR has a clear idea of what it wants. Furthermore, we will always point to opportunities, provide the EUR with information, and be a sparring partner on internationalisation strategies.

Interview with Jan Michiel Meeuwsen


Connections and mediation

Jan Michiel Meeuwsen is an innovation 'broker': someone who mediates and connects universities, businesses and funding programs for research and innovation. On commission, he develops approved management strategies for EU funding.

Out in the Styx

Brussels is extremely important for Dutch higher education because, if you don’t have a defined relation with Brussels, then you’re educationally out in the Styx. EU programmes offer all kinds of opportunities to strengthen research and education. You stimulate exchange and can compare yourself with what other universities in Europe are actually doing. If, after the rigorous evaluations, you do succeed in getting funding programmes awarded, then you know you're a leading European/global player.

Strengthening networks

In the near future, the EUR will take a number of steps towards further internationalisation. One of the first steps to be taken is to renew and strengthen networks, not only in Brussels but also in The Hague, because, via the RVO, the EUR can exert considerable influence on the content of European research programs. At this moment, the focus is on ensuring that the last series of HORIZON 2020 research programmes contains subjects in which the EUR leads and excels. In addition, the EUR is involved in the first skirmishes regarding the content and structure of the ninth Framework, the successor of the HORIZON 2020 programme (the Eighth Framework).