UNICA is an institutional Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe. It was founded in 1990, and it is currently made up of 56 universities from 41 capital cities of Europe, combining over 150.000 university staff and 1.500,000 students.
UNICA aims at building on the specific profile of its Members to widen and strengthen international collaborations, engage academic leadership, and facilitate networking among academic communities through understanding and sharing between its Members throughout the European Higher Education and Research Areas.
The cultural diversity and “living lab” aspects of Capital cities, the proximity to governing bodies, their technological, cultural and innovative capacity, and the opportunities they provide as powerful economic and commercial centers, create a special environment for UNICA Members. As capital-based Universities, UNICA Members face similar issues but have also the opportunity – and responsibility – to maximize their potential and play a crucial role in supporting our societies to address global challenges and shaping a better future.
Our vision is to be a driving force in the development of the European Higher Education and Research Areas and empower our Member Universities to unlock their full potential, putting knowledge, research, and innovation at the service of the needs of our societies and of the coming generations.
UNICA is committed to acting as a catalyst in the advancement, integration and cooperation of Member Universities throughout Europe. To achieve these aims, UNICA promotes activities based on the following core values and principles:
a. Academic values: we believe that strong and impactful academic communities are grounded in core Higher Education values, namely academic freedom, institutional autonomy, accountability, equitable access and social responsibility;
b. European integration: we believe in the power of democratic values and support the idea of a European mindset based on the respect for human dignity. We work towards further integration of the European Higher Education and Research Areas as a means of advancing European integration;
c. Sustainable development: we consider universities to be privileged pit stops in the route of knowledge and innovation fluxes, with the potential to become facilitators of sustainable development by enabling the scientific, collaborative, and entrepreneurial mindset that leads to solutions for common concerns of societies today, while minding the needs of future generations;
d. Collaborative mindset: based on the rationale that global challenges require global solutions, we believe in a concerted approach that brings together academia, industry, decision-making bodies, and civil society for transformative change. This entails the idea of open science for the benefit of society;
e. Sense of community: we strive to build a community of universities that embraces the concept of ‘advancement by sharing’ and is accomplished in an open environment that voices the needs and ideas of all members in academic communities, from university leaders to students.
Approved during the 32nd UNICA General Assembly in Dublin, 30 June 2022
What we do
UNICA provides a forum in which the Members can reflect on the needs of strategic change in university research, education, administration, innovation, and societal engagement. To achieve this, UNICA carries out member-driven activities, the content, format, and frequency of which depend substantially on the Members’ engagement and interest. Working Groups on selected topics are one of the main instruments for encouraging the cooperation of Member Universities.
UNICA also aims at articulating the views of Member Universities to decision-making bodies and frequently joins efforts with other networks and institutions operating in the area of Higher Education and Research for collaborative ventures or appeal to governing bodies for solutions to common concerns.
UNICA is also active in the field of European projects, both as coordinator and partner.
The main bodies of the Network are the General Assembly and the Steering Committee.
The current President of the UNICA Network is Prof. Luciano Saso, Vice-Rector of European University Networks (Sapienza University of Rome).
The UNICA General Secretariat is based in Brussels, Belgium.