Magic happens when people come together

5 people in a meeting room, sitting behind desks, smiling. One man is standing and holding a microphone cube

From the meeting in the Quality and ethics committee. From left Prof. Ana Marušić, Gordana Dujmović and prof. Mile Dželalija from University of Split, Marco Ariola from University of Naples "Parthenope", and Solveig Randhahn from Kiel University. 

Magic happens when people come together
The last week of May, Nord University hosted SEA-EUs Governing week. Around 100 participants from all SEA-EUs nine member universities gathered in Bodø for discussions, presentations, and collaborative activities.

"Together, we are moving higher education in Europe, and to be a part of that is extremely rewarding and fun", says Nord University's rector Hanne Solheim Hansen after three days of intense meeting activity, networking and collaboration.

People in a meeting, sitting behind a row of desks. A woman in the middle is talking
Governing board meeting. From left: Fidel Echevarría, General Coordinator of SEA-EU, Laura Howard, General Director of SEA-EU, Hanne Solheim Hansen, rector of Nord University, Levi Gårseth-Nesbakk, Vice Rector of Education, Anna Viktoria Bjørsvik, student representative from Nord, and Alfred J. Vella, rector of the University of Malta. Photo: Øyfrid S. Knudsen

The alliance is often referred to as the “SEA-EU family” internally, highlighting the close-knit community it fosters. And rightly so: In between the more formal meetings, the gatherings resembled a family reunion where the joy of reuniting and spending time together was immense.

A group of people standing outside, behind and in front of big green metal letters that spell NORD
The Technical working group of the alliance. Photo: Øyfrid S. Knudsen

The Governing week brings together rectors, academics, managers, administrative support staff and students from various disciplines and universities. They meet in different constellations to make decisions on the highest governance level. Among those are the Executive committee, the Technical working group, and of course the Governing board.

A woman dressed in pink at the front, talking actively in a meeting
Vice-Rector for Internalisation Marcela Iglesias, University of Cádiz, speking in the Executive comittee. Photo: Øyfrid S. Knudsen

A side from the meetings, participants took part in cultural experiences, excursions and social dinners. The participants were thrilled to be able to experience the nature of Bodø during trips to Mjelle and Saltstraumen, and got a meeting with Sami music performed by Frode Fjellheim, a well known musician in Norway and professor at Nord University.

People standing in front of a scene, two musicians on the stage
Frode Fjellheim performing at the reception in Bodø City Hall. Photo: Øyfrid S. Knudsen
Two formally dressed men standing on rocks in a sunny weather, the sea and more people in the background
From the excursion to Saltstraumen/Åselistraumen. Photo: Elena Popova
4 people standing by the sea, two and two talking to each other. Sunny weather
Discussions by the sea: The participants did some networking everywhere, here at Mjelle beach. Photo: Øyfrid S. Knudsen

Important strategical discussions

Among the topics of discussion were how to increase student and staff mobility, improve communication channels and synergies between partners, establishing a joint projects office, and the legal entity status of SEA-EU.

Nord's rector Hanne Solheim Hansen gathered all her rector colleagues in the Rectors’ Meeting to discuss strategic priorities. Crucial topics were the funding of the alliance after full funding from the European Commission ceases, and the future legal status.

People in a meeting room, sitting around a rectangular table
The Rectors of the nine universities shared experiences and discussed the deliverables and goals together

Read more from the Governing week:

Differences make us stronger

All involved in the alliance can agree to the fact that the cultural and systemic differences between the participants often impress the work speed, but there is also a lot to learn from it.

"We come from different cultures and systems, and we could say that is a challenge, but is is also an advantage. We encourage everyone to lift up the differences and benefit from them", Hanne Solheim Hansen said on behalf of all the rectors in the Governing Board meeting.

4 people standing by a window, discussing together

We come from different cultures and systems, and we could say that is a challenge, but is is also an advantage. We encourage everyone to lift up the differences and benefit from them

The Rectors of the nine SEA-EU partner universities

Great student engagement

SEA-EU also has its own Student Council, where two students from each university participates. The council meets online regularly, and represent's the student's voices in the alliance. "We work for the students on all the nine universities", says Anna Viktoria Bjørsvik, representative for Nord university in the Student's council. "As an example, we have been very involved in the Joint programs planning, giving advices on how to get this right for the students", says her fellow representative from Nord, Hanna Mary Pettersen.

A group of students in e meeting room
The Student's council, from their meeting during the Governing week. Photo: Øyfrid S. Kndusen

"Being in the student's council is a great opportunity", says Anna Viktoria and Hanna. "It is a group of really talented people, who all wants the best for their universities and the alliance", they agree. "And being a part of this means you get friends for life. We are like a family" Hanna Marys says with a big smile.

Two young women sitting by a table with laptops in front of them. One of them is talking
Anna Viktoria Bjørsvik (left) and Hanna Mary Pettersen in the Student's council's meeting.

Governing board meeting

The last meeting of the week was the Governing Board, which is the most important one. The Governing board is composed of the nine Rectors and Vice Rectors of the SEA-EU Universities, nine representatives of students (one from each university) and the General Coordinator of SEA-EU, and one rotatory representative attending from Advisory Board, Cities and Ports Council and the Stakeholder Group.

A big meeting room, class room, people sitting behind desks

The Governing board meeting also marked the shift of the rotating presidency of the SEA-EU alliance. Nord University handed the lead over to The University of Malta, and their rector Alfred J. Vella who will be the institutional representative of the alliance for the next six months. Thus, the next Governing week will take place in Malta in November 2024.

A formally dressed woman and a man is standing behind two sitting people, shaking hands and exhanging a gift
Nord University's rector Hanne Solheim Hansen receives a gift from the rector of the University of Malta Alfred J. Vella while she hands over the presidency of the alliance to him.

Happy hosts

Behind the scenes on such a big event is Nord University's local manager for SEA-EU, Tove Holm. "I have been looking forward to this week all year and am so happy that we could welcome our alliance partners", Tove Holm says. "It has been a great week, and my main feeling is joy. I am so happy for everyone who came. I am also thankful for everyone at Nord who helped with all the practicalities, and for the alliance coordinators who cooperated on the program. In conclusion, we are stronger together."

Portrait of two ladies on in evening sun, in the backround we can see people, and mountains
Monica Brobak and Tove Holm from Nord University's SEA-EU office were in charge of the planning.

It has been a great week, and my main feeling is joy. I am so happy for everyone who came.

Tove Holm, local manager for SEA-EU at Nord University

Read more from the Governing week:

About​ SEA-EU

    The SEA-EU alliance consists of nine universities:

    Together, the alliance partners have more than 150,000 students and 18,000 employees who will benefit from the objectives that the alliance has set itself.

    Read more about SEA-EU