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History and Future of the LERU


The League of European Research Universities (LERU) was founded in 2002 by 12 European research-intense universities with an aim to create a European network which will contribute to development of the European policy in respect to research and education through analyses, position papers and recommendations. The main goal of the association of the finest European universities is to advocate the importance of optimal conditions for learning and research which in turn are crucial for innovation and progress in both social and economic aspects. In the 10 years of its existence, the LERU went through some changes but the main goal and organisation changed little from 2002.

The LERU was created with an aim to present the standpoint of view of all its 12 members - Catholic University of Leuven, University of Helsinki, University of Strasbourg, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Karolinska Institute, Heidelberg University, University of Milan, University of Leiden, University of Zurich, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University of Edinburgh. In 2006, eight new universities joined the founding members including the Paris-Sud 11 University, University of Freiburg (Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg), University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Lund University, University of Zurich, University College London and the Pierre and Marie Curie University (the Paris VI University). The Imperial College London and University of Barcelona who joined the association in 2010 were the last universities to be admitted. On its 10th anniversary from founding, the LERU, however, had 21 member universities because one of its founding members – the Karolinska Institute decided to leave the association in 2011. The LERU remains open to new members, however, the admission criteria remain very high. The European universities can become members only after receiving a formal invitation to the League.

On the 10th anniversary of its foundation in the early May 2012, the LERU organised an international conference at the University of Barcelona. At the conference which was titled “European Research Universities Guide and Engine for Europe 2050”, the representatives of the member institutions discussed the past and future role of the European research-intense universities as well as outlined their view of the future research policy in Europe. In other words, the delegates focused on finding a common view on how the research universities in Europe should develop in the future in order to remain the “engine” in both social and economic sense. Together with the representatives of the LERU’s sister university networks from the United States (AAU), China (C9) and Australia (Go8) they also discussed the options of closer cooperation on issues of common interest.

After taking a look at the work of the LERU in the past decade and outlining the main goals for the future, the LERU evaluated its past work as highly successful. But the members of the LERU also concluded that they need to continue with their activities in the rapidly changing world in order to make sure that the European research-intense universities will remain competitive in the global education market, and improve the dialogue between the universities’ staff and students with industry and governments as well as the society as a whole.