The official start of the European University Alliance COLOURS, where University “St. Kliment Ohridski” – Bitola (UKLO) is an active member, was marked at the kick-off meeting hosted by the University of Paderborn on March 17 and 18, 2024.

The meeting is of an outstanding importance for the future development of our UKLO as the first European University Alliance member, but also very important for the higher education in our country in general. On the other hand, via participation in the Alliance, UKLO students will be given a unique opportunity for obtaining a joint degree from several universities and from various European countries.

The European University Alliances Initiative is the flagship one of the European strategy for the universities. The initiative is with ambition to establish 60 European University Alliances and to include more than 500 higher education institutions by mid-2024. The Initiative is an aspiring EU partnership association, aiming at creating inter-institutional affiliations of higher education institutions to the benefit of the academics and the students, but also that of the wider communities. The establishment and the functioning of the Alliances is exclusively financed by the European Commission ERASMUS+ Programme.

UKLO is the first and so far, the only Macedonian university that is part of a European University Alliance. In the next four years of participation in the COLOURS European University Alliance, UKLO will be developing a long-standing structural, strategic and sustainable cooperation with eight other European universities – members of the Alliance. This cooperation is expected to result in improving the international competitiveness of the Alliance partner universities as well as promoting the European values and identity among the members.

The delegation attending this meeting of historical importance for UKLO, beside the UKLO managing team, involved the Mayor of Bitola, Toni Konjanovski – an act of highlighting the importance of UKLO transformation into a European University for the further development of the municipality and the region. The Municipality of Bitola is also an associate partner of the COLOURS University Alliance.

The first day of the stay was marked by several remarkable events in line with the working meetings and the Alliance Work Package activities. At the onset of the first day, the rectors of the Alliance partner universities had a joint meeting and after that they were hosted by the Mayor of Paderborn. The kick-off meeting of the Alliance was opened by a speech by the Rector of the Paderborn University, which is the leading partner of the COLOURS Alliance and then followed the addresses by the MPs from Paderborn and by the Alliance management. At the panel after the opening session, UKLO Rector, Prof. Dr. Sc. Igor Nedelkovski and UKLO student leader, Boris Gushevski, took active part and offered answers to a wide range of questions related to the similarities and differences among the COLOURS partners, as well as the challenges they are facing.

The events around the meeting ended up with a joint fair where the COLOURS partners presented their academic offers and distributed promotional materials. In line with UKLO, there are eight other universities from Germany, France, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Poland, Latvia and Croatia.

This significant event, apart from the Rector of UKLO, Prof. Dr. Sc. Igor Nedelkovski and the Vice-Rector, Prof. Dr. Jove Dimitrija Talevski, also a project coordinator, was attended by the academic coordinator and UKLO representative in the Alliance consortium, Prof. Dr. Renata Petrevska Nechkoska, the UKLO vice-rectors, Prof. Dr. Jasmina Bunevska – Talevska and Prof. Dr. Goran Ilikj, the President of the University Senate, Prof. Dr. Nikolche Jankulovski, the student leader, Boris Gushevski and Prof. Dr. Mimoza Bogdanoska Jovanovska, the Alliance CoSpace Officer.

COLOURS stands for COLlaborative innOvative sUstainable Regional univerSities and UKLO is co-leader of the Alliance Work Package 6, dedicated to dissemination and communication. WP 6 is a substantial package and UKLO was, deservingly, praised for its professional and innovative ways of presenting the Alliance and the activities of the partner universities.