The U4 Network is an European University Network of Ghent University (BE), University of Göttingen (DE), University of Groningen (NL), and Uppsala University (SE).
The first aim of the partnership is to provide a supportive platform for joint cooperative initiatives in the field of education, research and institutional management, as well as to offer a solid framework for cooperation as preferential partners in international projects and contexts.
The ambition of the U4 Network is to strengthen the international position and visibility of the individual partner institutions through intensive cooperation.
The U4 Network aims to broaden the partner universities' educational offer, facilitate and enhance the U4 students' international experiences, strengthen the research output, and share knowledge and pooling resources within the field of university management.
It further seeks to provide education based on the overarching European values and principles of human rights, openness, and democracy, actively promoting universities' rights to autonomy, academic freedom, and sustainability, as well as strongly advocating the notion of European citizens.
The U4 Network is multidimensional. It embraces all scientific disciplines, all levels of education (with a focus on MA and PhD level), and all fields within university administration and management. As a university-wide cooperation platform the U4 Network thus offers a framework for multidisciplinary initiatives and for identifying complementary strengths among the partners.
The U4-cooperation is organized in four academic clusters. Each of the academic clusters is hosted by one partner university: Humanities (Ghent University), Social Sciences, Economics and Law (Göttingen University), Medicine and Pharmacy (Groningen University) and Science and Technology (Uppsala University).
Apart from the academic domain clusters the cluster Institutional Management covers all cooperation initiatives on the level of institutional management.
Yet, another distinctive feature in the organisation is the U4 Student Network, which has been established on a permanent basis
All partners within the U4 Network consider themselves equals and share the commitment of ensuring the continuity of the partnership. Therefore, U4 is part of the institutional strategy at each of the partner universities and is embedded in the organisational structures.
The U4 Network as a whole is governed jointly by the four Rectors who define the general U4 strategy. The academic clusters are each governed by a cluster chair of the designated host university. The daily management of the network at an overarching level is run by four coordinators based at the resp. inter-national offices of each of the partner universities.
The U4 Network discerns itself from large university associations as a true operational learning network for students, teachers and management staff.
The strength of the U4 Network is the partner universities' mutual commitment to form a platform for cooperation with the aim of using the partners’ complementary strengths and of pooling resources. This allows to increase the scale of innovative and/or specialised activities within a challenging international, but simultaneously confident learning evironment.
As a green-house for new cooperation intiatives, the U4 fosters a bottom-up dynamic and offers incentives for joint activities and mobility formats that are generally not eligible for external funding programmes.
A distinct feature of the U4 Network is the open dialogue between the partners based on mutual trust, which makes U4 a unique learning consortium for the central management services for sharing experiences, exchanging best practices, and reciprocal peer reviewing with the aim of improving processes at the home university.