International University Alliance: City and universities celebrate official launch

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"Colours only come to life, when there is light" – this is how Managing Director Dr. Annette Klinkert welcomed the guests at the official Kick-Off of the COLOURS University Alliance at Paderborn University on Monday, 18 March. Numerous representatives of the participating partner universities from France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, North Macedonia, Poland, Croatia, Latvia, and Ukraine came together for the Kick-Off Meeting, to celebrate the launch of the Alliance, which has received 14 million euros in funding. All of them are united by the vision of a European campus, which is now gradually becoming a reality. Preceding the festive Kick-Off Event, Paderborn's mayor Michael Dreier hosted a reception in the town hall. He and the mayor of Bitola, North Macedonia, were also present at the Kick-Off Meeting.

Profound Changes

During her welcome speech, Prof. Dr. Birgitt Riegraf, President of Paderborn University, put special emphasis on the importance of internationality at higher education institutions. “The amount and proportion of international projects at our University is growing steadily. Becoming a part of the COLOURS University Alliance is a milestone on the path to an even stronger international network. This will come with many advantages, especially for students, but also, of course, for research, teaching, and transfer.” Prof. Dr. Torsten Meier, Vice President for International Relations at Paderborn University and President of the COLOURS Alliance, shared a similar view: “Through our work in the Alliance, we can better prepare students to meet global challenges and to face the dynamically changing demands of professional life. Intercultural competence is highly important, now more than ever.” The interdisciplinary and international cooperation in the fields of economy, industry, culture, and sports – to name a few – is a process of long-term transformation, that will lead to profound changes in the participating regions and countries.

“Shaped by Change”

In a series of panel discussions, the Presidents of the partner institutions explained why they decided to join the Alliance, as well as their hopes for what the future might hold for their universities, regions, and countries. All participants were in agreement, particularly regarding current circumstances: "We are living in a time shaped by change." This makes it all the more important to face the resulting challenges through consistent cooperation in all socially relevant areas. Student representatives of the Alliance also provided insights into their involvement in COLOURS. Students can actively participate in the organisation of study programmes, language courses, or workshops and thus play a central role in the concrete design of a European campus. In her keynote speech, Julia Désirée Eisentraut, member of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, spoke about academia, freedom, and democracy in times of change.

14 Million Euros from the European Commission

The European Commission has been funding the COLOURS University Alliance as one of a total of 50 initiatives with around 14 million euros since the beginning of the year. Led by Paderborn University, the Alliance unites nine international universities with around 126,000 students and 12,300 employees. The aim is to strengthen cooperation in the long term, increase international visibility, and promote the mobility of students and researchers within Europe.


COLOURS stands for “COLlaborative innOvative sUstainable Regional univerSities”. Through strategic cooperation, the initiative aims to get the ball rolling on social and technological innovations for citizens across Europe. In their collaboration, the universities also benefit from the support of 55 associated partners who are active as multipliers in regional innovation networks.

In addition to Paderborn University as the coordinating institution, the Alliance has members from the University of Le Mans (France), the University of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain), the University of Ferrara (Italy), the University of Kristianstad (Sweden), the Jan Długosz University in Częstochowa (Poland), the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University in Osijek (Croatia), the Ventspils University of Applied Sciences (Latvia), and the University of St Kliment Ohridski Bitola (North Macedonia). Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University (Ukraine) is also an associated partner of the Alliance.

Photo (Paderborn University, Besim Mazhiqi): Reception with Mayor Michael Dreier (centre).
Photo (Paderborn University, Besim Mazhiqi): Prof Dr Torsten Meier welcomes the guests at the kick-off event.
Photo (Paderborn University, Besim Mazhiqi): Talk round: Alliance students in conversation with Managing Director Dr Annette Klinkert (centre).
Photo (Paderborn University, Besim Mazhiqi): Participants in the kick-off event from ten European countries.


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Prof. Dr. Torsten Meier

Paderborn University

Vice-President for International Relations

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Dr. Annette Klinkert

International Relations Office

Managing Director COLOURS Alliance

Write email +49 5251 60-4664