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Aurora network

The Aurora network equips European universities to provide a diverse student population with the skills and mindset needed to contribute to addressing societal challenges as social entrepreneurs and innovators.

Formed in 2016, the Aurora network is a consortium of nine top-ranked, research-intensive universities in the EU that are committed to the societal impact and engagement with communities.

With the European Commission’s approval of the Aurora European Universities Alliance, the joint activities were taken to a new level in the summer of 2020. If you have further questions or you would like to become involved, please contact

On the bottom of this page, you can also find stories from students who joined Aurora events.

Are you a VU student and do you want to follow an Aurora course abroad at one of our partner universities? Please have a look on this website for more information and instructions on how to apply. We are currently offering several opportunities at the University of Innsbrück (deadine: 12 July).

If you are a student from an institution within the Aurora network, you can take a select number of courses at VU Amsterdam. For more information please send a message to

Related news articles about Aurora can be found in the news overview.

Learn more about Aurora

Aurora is a consortium of research-intensive universities. These universities are committed to matching academic excellence with societal engagement and impact. The consortium was originally founded in 2016 and launched here at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Within Aurora we embrace four key themes, which are included in this video. 

Members and partners

  • Aurora universities

    University of Iceland

    University of Iceland, founded in 1911, is a progressive and comprehensive research university, situated in the heart of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Great emphasis is placed on strengthening research and educating young people, preparing them for taking an active part in society as well as making their mark on the global community. Dynamic and extensive collaboration with research institutions and industry is an important factor in the university's operations.

    Universität Duisburg-Essen

    Located at the heart of the Ruhr metropolis, Universität Duisberg-Essen is reflective of the character of this region: dynamic, ambitious, and ever changing. In their eleven faculties and four interdisciplinary research clusters - Nanosciences, Biomedical Sciences, Urban Systems, and Transformation of Contemporary Societies - their scientists and scholars develop ideas with a future. They deliberately integrate research and teaching as closely as they can to promote the exchange of knowledge and perspectives. The university embraces diversity and strongly supports exchange and collaboration - both regionally, as with their neighbouring universities in the University Alliance Ruhr, and worldwide, as in the Aurora Network and with their more than 250 Erasmus partner universities.

    Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II

    The University of Naples Federico II (Italian: Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II) is a public university in Naples, Italy. Founded in 1224, it is the oldest public non-sectarian university in the world, and it has 26 departments. It was Europe's first university dedicated to training secular administrative staff and is one of the oldest academic institutions in continuous operation.

    Universitat Rovira i Virgili

    The Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) was established in 1991 by the Parliament of Catalonia. From the very first day, the aim of the university was clear: to ues knowledge in the service of society in order to contribute to the social and economic development of the environment, which gradually changes over time. 

    Universität Innsbruck

    Founded in 1669, Universität Innsbruck is the largest research and educational institution in western Austria, with over 27,000 students and 5,000 staff and teachers. Located in the heart of the Alps, Universität Innsbruck is a research university with sixteen faculties and 81 departments. The research activities are organised in seven main research areas, namely Alpine Space - Man and Environment, Digital Science Center (DiSC), Cultural Encounters - Cultural Conflicts, Molecular Biosciences, Physics, Scientific Computing, and Economy, Politics and Society. 

    Palacký University Olomouc

    Palacký University Olomouc is the oldest university in Moravia and the second-oldest in the Czech Republic. It was established in 1573 as a public university led by the Jesuit order in Olomouc, which was at that time the capital of Moravia and the seat of the episcopacy. 

    Copenhagen Business School

    Copenhagen Business School (CBS) was established in 1917. Today, with 20,000 students and 1,500 employees, CBS is one of the largest business schools in Europe and one of the eight Danish universities.

    Université Paris-Est Créteil

    With 14 faculties, schools and institutes, 1 observatory and 33 research laboratories, Université Paris-Est Créteil has been active in all fields of knowledge since 1970. A major player in disseminating academic, scientific and technological knowledge, the university offers more than 350 training courses in all disciplines and levels.

    University of Minnesota

    The University of Minnesota is the first Aurora global member university. The University of Minnesota, founded in 1851, is one of the largest and most comprehensive research universities in the world. It is one of only five campuses in the United States with schools of engineering, medicine, law, veterinary medicine, and agriculture. The University of Minnesota is the 14th most active public research university in the U.S. with over $1 billion in annual research spending. Across all five campuses, the University enrolls almost 70,000 students, including 5,400 international students. 

  • Associate partners

    University of Tetova

    Tetova State University is a public university in northern Macedonia. The university was founded on 17 December 1994 as Macedonia's first Albanian-language institution of higher education, but was not recognised as a state university by the national government until January 2004. Courses and lectures are taught in Albanian, Macedonian and English. 

    V.N. Karazin National University Kharkiv

    Kharkiv University or Karazin University, or officially V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, is one of the most important universities in Ukraine. It was founded in 1804 through the efforts of Vasily Karazin and became the second oldest university in modern Ukraine.

    South-West University Neofit Rilski

    Southwestern University "Neofit Rilski" is a university in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. The university was founded in 1975, initially as part of Sofia University. Its patron is the patriarch of new Bulgarian education Neofit Rilski (Neophyte of Rila). 

    Pavol Jozef Šafárik University Košice

    Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice is a university in Košice, Slovakia. It was founded in 1959 and is organised into five faculties. The university is named after Pavel Jozef Šafárik, a 19th-century Slovak philologist, poet and historian.

Key themes

  • 1. Diversity and Inclusion

    The vision of the Aurora workgroup on diversity is to:

    • create equal opportunities for staff and students at Aurora universities
    • create a working and learning environment at our universities in which different perspectives are explicitly valued
    • capitalise on the ability to generate creativity from different perspectives, both in teaching and in education.
  • 2. Societal Impact and Relevance of Research

    The second key theme of Aurora is the societal relevance and impact of high-quality research. The member universities aim to develop criteria and indicators for socially relevant research. In doing so, they want to complement rather than replace more exclusive academic statistics. In this way, the societal impact and relevance of research can be improved, without detracting from the quality of research.

  • 3. Students

    Aurora highly values student involvement, both within each individual university and within the network as a whole. It is important to engage students in activities outside the curriculum. Aurora does this by connecting students who are active in a variety of education-related and campus-related activities (social, cultural, sports, campus services, career services, alumni).

  • 4. Innovation of Teaching and Learning

    Aurora can serve its member universities specifically when it comes to the innovation of teaching & learning. This not only includes developments in the digitalisation of education but also in the innovation of content and of the more concrete implementation of non-curricular learning outcomes.

Student experiences


Cooperation within Aurora is led by the following people.

Ramon Puras

Sabine Sainte-Rose
Programme director, Aurora network


  • Stephanie Kernwein Thrane
  • Aurora opportunities for PhD candidates