ATHENA partners gathered at the 6th ATHENA European University meeting in Rome at the campus of Niccolò Cusano University earlier this month. The meeting featured various activities, including inspiring talks by renowned speakers, engaging parallel and plenary sessions and social events. All partners are eager to fulfill the mission of the ATHENA – to build a stronger academic community in Europe. We talked about this mission with prof. Fabio Fortuna, rector of Niccolò Cusano University.
Why do you think international cooperation in higher education is important in Europe?
It is extremely important for several reasons. Firstly, higher education is becoming more and more global and the challenges that the world faces today, such as climate change, globalization, digitization, and immigration, require innovative solutions and collaboration between different countries and cultures. International cooperation in higher education offers an opportunity to exchange ideas and knowledge among students, teachers, and researchers from different countries and contributes to creating a more diverse and inclusive academic community. Secondly, international cooperation can help to create a more competitive and high-quality higher education in Europe. Universities that work together can offer wider and more varied study programs, as well as access to complementary resources and knowledge. Finally, international cooperation in higher education can facilitate mobility of students, teachers, and administrative staff, making European citizens more aware and open to the world. Students who study abroad acquire intercultural and language skills which demand is increasing in the global job market.
What values does the ATHENA European university bring to its students and staff in your opinion?
ATHENA provides high-quality and innovative higher education for its students and a stimulating and rewarding work environment for its academic and non-academic staff. Firstly, ATHENA offers its students and staff an international experience and various mobility and exchange programs. This helps to acquire a wide range of intercultural and linguistic skills and to increase their knowledge of the world, diverse cultures and to prepare for an increasingly globalized future. Secondly, ATHENA provides high-quality academic education through innovative and multidisciplinary study programs developed in collaboration with other European universities. This offers students an opportunity to acquire advanced skills in a wide range of disciplines, while academic staff benefit from professional development opportunities and international collaboration. Let’s not forget about high-level research: ATHENA promotes collaboration among its members for high-level interdisciplinary research, addressing the most pressing global challenges. This offers academic staff the opportunity to contribute to innovative solutions to real-world problems and to build their reputation as world-class experts. Finally, career opportunities: ATHENA is committed to providing its students with transferable skills and practical learning experiences, increasing their chances of success in a wide range of possible careers. At the same time, it offers its academic and non-academic staff opportunities for professional and career development in an international and stimulating environment.
What is the strategic outlook for ATHENA European university in 5 years time?
As the rector of a university member of ATHENA, I can say that the strategic perspective of ATHENA in 5 years is to become one of the main networks of European universities. This will allow us to offer innovative, high-quality, and accessible higher education to all. We will be able to enhance the quality of higher education provided by our universities through the creation of joint study programs, innovative online courses, and the development of new teaching and learning methods, promoting mobility of students and academic staff through scholarships and exchange programs, in order to improve intercultural knowledge, language and professional skills of students.
We will also strengthen our research by promoting interdisciplinary and cooperation among our universities, in order to tackle the most urgent global challenges such as health, social sciences, environment, energy, and engineering. This will also allow us to increase our visibility and impact at the international level, enhancing our ability to attract students, researchers, and funding from all over the world.
Is there anything you would like to wish for the ATHENA community?
As the Rector of Niccolò Cusano University, a member of ATHENA, I would like to wish our community of students, faculty, researchers, and non-academic staff continued success in working together to build an institution of excellence that can compete with the best universities in the world. I would also like to encourage our community to remain committed to the University’s mission of providing high-quality higher education, promoting interdisciplinary research, and preparing our students for successful careers in an increasingly globalized world.
I wish all members of the ATHENA community to continue pursuing their personal and professional ambitions– tackling challenges with enthusiasm and determination – and to always be open to opportunities for learning and growth.