ATHENA embodies a holistic view of higher education combining distinctive features that develop a critical and transformative mindset in our students empowering them for active global citizenship.

ATHENA educational hallmarks include students’ employability, the inseparability of education and research, equity and inclusion, democratic values, internationalisation, connection to industry and the society at large, smooth transition from education to work, interdisciplinarity,multiculturality, entrepreneurial mindset, efficiency.


The ATHENA educational model opens the doors of higher education institutions to the society addressing not only our regular students and our alumni but also all those occasional learners willing to advance their knowledge, their skills and competences, for some reason.

We offer inclusive education, in the sense that we have developed, and keep developing, innovative higher education approaches that provide all our learners the environment and the resources they need to succeed in higher education on a digital era.

This broad reach and unique flexibility is achieved through a combination of innovative models (such as Competence Custers), paradigms (such as BlendEd), services (such as the Language Café) and tools (such as Praxis).

What's in it for you?

Regular students

Take a look at a few of the unique features that the ATHENA Education is offering you.

Our regular students have access to student centered education through Competence Clusters allowing them to:

  • create personalized academic paths matching each one’s specific needs and interest, since you will be able to exchange among courses in the same cluster,
  • reduce time to graduation, since you will not have to wait for the next year edition of a given course you have failed but instead exchange with an equivalent course running in the next semester.

Benefit from international exposure during studies while studying at your home institution with BlendEd.
Use our facilities for distance learning and exploit our embedded mobility environment.

Use our facilities for distance learning and exploit our embedded mobility environment.

Occasional learners

ATHENA Educational assets are available to all those willing to develop knowledge, competences and skills for any reason. Competence Clusters are a gateway to access all the ATHENA partner universities. You can use it to find and apply to any specific subjects of your interest; and you are free to chose the best time, the best place, the best professor, the best educational methodology and many other characteristics you might match to your own preferences.


Reuse all available courses and learning units to develop new training addressing specific needs on the fly.
Access a worldwide recruitment base to announce your internships to several hundred thousands young talents.
Take advantage of international teams of students willing to develop a proof of concept for your challenges in any field in four months.

Competence clusters

Competence Clusters are an innovative model providing the required infrastructure to have a dynamic student-centred curriculum while fostering lightweight mobility for studies. With the Competence Cluster model, students can design their own curriculum to a certain extent, framed by the requirements of the degree they are enrolled in. This model allows students to acquire the specific skills and competences required to attain a certain professional profile independently from the rest of the student group, despite being all enrolled in the same degree programme. With this model, students are free to either follow the standard curriculum of their degree or to adapt it to specific interests or needs by exchanging courses in the same Competence Cluster.

Competence Clusters are cohesive homogeneous groups of learning units, each one of them assuring the same set of skills, competences, learning outcomes and workload/ECTS. Learning units are structured academic activities (full courses, course modules, labs, …) granting learners a set of learning outcomes that are assessed, certified and recognized by all partner universities. Learning units in the same cluster are equivalent from the point of view of learning outcomes and workload so they can be exchanged or attended autonomously.

Competence Clusters empower students to a more international, diversified and personalised education; strengthen ATHENA with an extended reach in both breadth and depth leading to new markets in higher education and new services to economy and society and disclose the full potential of universities placing it at the service of society, paying back the public investment on higher education.

Competence Clusters aim to:

  • Pave the way for student centered education
  • Reduce time to graduation
  • Foster simplified, objective, effective access to lifelong learning
  • Offer systematic procedures to design training plans suiting specific needs on the fly

Competence Clusters are a simple concept, a novel model in support of a sound transformation of higher education, opening new markets, offering new services and expanding horizons.

Competence Clusters will soon be available for search and enrolment through the ATHENA portal.

Embedded mobility

International mobility, either physical or virtual, or a combination of the two (blended mobility), is an integral part of all degree programmes at ATHENA. This involves a much deeper appropriation and integration of virtual mobility and blended mobility solutions. ATHENA’s embedded mobility setting is grounded on several initiatives, including:

  • Online courses prepared for virtual mobility
  • Inter-institutional mobility window scheme as a baseline for systematic international mobility based on competence clusters
  • Promote blended mobility as a way to increase international exposure overcoming common barriers to mobility
  • Promote volunteering and extracurricular activities linked to the local community to introduce foreign students to local culture, bring added value to the local community and raise awareness to our international dimension
  • Simplified administration of staff and students’ mobility
  • Teachers training for mobility, capacity building for teachers, how to teach online, how to deliver online/virtual courses, blended education and blended mobility
  • Promote access to linguistic support and language courses for ATHENA students and staff


Blended Mobility is a way to increase international exposure during studies by overcoming common barriers to mobility while reducing the carbon footprint in comparison to traditional Erasmus mobility for studies. We are expanding BlendEd, the blended mobility paradigm we have been running since 2008 and take it to the next level. BlendEd is a project course unit where an international multidisciplinary team of students develops a solution during a semester for a challenge proposed by a company. The students meet face-to-face during one week at the start of the course and another week at the end. In between these meeting, students work at their home institutions cooperating at a distance. This project course unit is engaging ATHENA in a disruptive and effective pedagogical approach that is a flagship characteristic of ATHENA.

Mobility windows

ATHENA is developing an inter-institutional mobility window scheme as a baseline for systematic international mobility. A mobility window is a period of time reserved for student mobility that is integrated into the study programme. Our mobility window scheme takes Competence Clusters into account; a certain student might be enrolled in courses from different universities at the same mobility window. This is an innovative form of mobility window that involves a much deeper appropriation and integration of virtual mobility and blended mobility solutions than the traditional mobility window models. A specific mobility window scheme for staff is also being devised besides those targeting students.

Virtual Classrooms

The virtual classrooms at each partner university are equipped to support virtual mobility.

Virtual classes allow students at a certain moment in different countries to interact with each other in a friendly environment and, like in a real class, exchange opinions, questions, doubts, comments, discuss the course of study; in a few words, communicate freely among themselves.

Link to R&I

Synergies between Education and Research play a key role in Higher Education. At ATHENA we promote these synergies through several initiatives including the settlement of multidisciplinary teams of students aimed to develop solutions for challenges posted by companies, the involvement of students in the organization of scientific events and the inclusion of a special section to publish master students best theses in the ATHENA annual research book.



Micro-credentials are a digital form of certification indicating that a person has demonstrated to master a given competence or skill. To earn a micro-credential, a student needs to complete a certain number of activities, assessments, or projects related to the competence/skill being credited. Micro-credentials can be implemented on a blockchain platform.

Competence Clusters’ learning outcomes might be mapped to specific Micro-credentials; this way students might earn credits by packing Micro-credentials throughout their academic path.

Micro-Credentials promote equity by granting new opportunities for those that for some reason cannot overcome with traditional teaching/learning forms.


The introduction of micro-credentials is supported by a backbone transversal blockchain-based infrastructure facilitating data exchange and reducing paperwork and bureaucratic non-productive overloads. The information available through blockchain platforms may represent certificates, curricula or anything else that can be described in digital form. Entries are permanent, transparent, and searchable, which makes it possible for community members to view transaction histories in their entirety and to provide access to trustworthy certification of students’ achievements. The common ATHENA backbone platform for student’s certificate management and verification is based on the Blockchain technology.

At a technical level, the automatic recognition of qualifications will be supported by the technical infrastructure based on EduCTX, an innovative platform based on Blockchain developed by the University of Maribor.

Services and Amenities​


ATHENA provides its students with a direct access to European labour markets through PRAXIS, a platform being used by students, companies, and research labs all over the world to exchange academic internships.

Praxis facilitates mutually beneficial links between companies, HEIs and students, not only concerning high-quality internships but also setting industrial challenges for student groups.

Infrastructure for distance learning

The ATHENA infrastructure for distance learning includes the facilities required for virtual mobility:

  • multimedia lab for video lessons recording, MOOC edition and production of rich didactic materials
  • virtual classroom, a classroom equipped with the required hardware and software for virtual attendance of classes

The virtual classrooms and multimedia labs are equipped to advance virtual mobility and the production of digital content, MOOCs and video classes

Students resident in one of the ATHENA countries will be able to access the material planned for a course they might need to attend at any time. A common Moodle platform guarantees access to texts, handouts and exercises set up for a given course.

Virtual classes allow students at a certain moment in different countries to interact with each other in a friendly environment and, like in a real class, exchange opinions, questions, doubts, comments, discuss the course of study; in a few words, communicate freely among themselves.

Similarly, the multimedia lab will be a fundamental tool for professors allowing them to: create virtual video classes/MOOCs; manage web conferencing with students; create complete courses or individual modules for distance e-learning teaching. Teachers will find training sessions on the platform itself to learn how to use these tools.


ATHENA Student Board

The ATHENA Student Board has a central body composed by one two students per partner university and a local body, at each partner university. The central body has a Vice President, a General Secretary, an Academic Secretary, an Events Secretary, and a Public Relations Secretary. They meet every month.

Link to local communities culture

Involving national and international students in extra-curricular and volunteering activities with the local community will promote a deeper integration of the ATHENA in its regional contexts while providing a unique opportunity for international students to experience local culture and way of living. Volunteering plays an important role in developing personal and interpersonal competencies of the participants with a particular impact on students’ employability. When involving foreign students, the impact is even more significant giving them the opportunity to have contact with local people outside the university environment.

Volunteering for extra-curricular activities promoted by ATHENA will boost the direct interaction of students with local communities and will benefit both groups.

The involvement of the local communities will concern private companies as well as associations, NGOs and local public service institutions such as hospitals and schools.

Online Language café

Practice your German, English, French, Italian or Portuguese language skills in a relaxed atmosphere at the ATHENA online Language Café and get to know different cultures and people at the same time. Together with fellow students from the ATHENA network, you can exchange views on cultural or regional topics, university, personal things etc. and play some fun games. 

The team from the Language Café (native speakers of the different languages) coordinates and supports every session and helps to overcome initial inhibitions.

 The Language Café is alive on Zoom every Wednesday from 6 -8 pm (CET).