International success for Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences


‘A major international success for the VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL)' Director Ruth van der Beek calls the award of funding from the EU's Erasmus+ programme.

The funding of five million euros for the next three years has been allocated to INVEST, a European alliance of which VHL forms a part. INVEST (INnoVations of Regional Susainability: European University Alliance), is an alliance of 5 European universities and universities of applied sciences and, through this collaboration, forms a 'European University'.

In addition to VHL, the INVEST alliance consists of 3 universities and 1 university of applied sciences in the various regions of Europe. These include the Slovak University of Agriculture in Slovakia, the University of Agribusiness and Rural Development in Bulgaria, Karelia University of Applied Sciences in Finland, and the University of Thessaly in Greece. The INVEST project will commence in December 2020.


EU-wide cooperation

The 5 knowledge institutions are working together closely to strengthen the link between education, research, innovation, and knowledge transfer, increase mobility and improve quality and excellence in education and research. The INVEST alliance focuses its activities on students in all three study paths: Bachelor's, Master’s, and PhD, and on the academic and non-academic staff of the alliance partners.

Ruth van der Beek: ‘The essence of our European partnership consists of four strategic pillars, namely competitive education and valuable learning outcomes, collective excellence in research and innovation, a high level of mobility within Europe, and the building of networks as a platform for future education and research. We have also selected a number of key relevant areas within our alliance: Water, Energy, Nutrition and Environment Nexus, Quality of Life and Entrepreneurship. VHL has a lot to offer in terms of innovation and sustainability.’

European Universities

Participants in a European University can fully benefit from the knowledge and qualities of their partner universities. Van der Beek: ‘There are many ways to innovate, and this is a wonderful, international way. That's how you stay interesting. Not only for Dutch students but also European students. Our partner universities in turn benefit from VHL's expertise and knowledge in the field of sustainability. In effect, you get a host of academic peers, sparring partners and 'colleagues’ in the package. Moreover, you can establish interdisciplinary and/or international groups of students, academics, and external stakeholders to address key European issues, such as the development of innovative technologies, climate change, democracy, health, and migration. The latter objectives are also important EU Erasmus programme objectives.’


As many as 62 alliances applied, 24 of which have now been selected to call themselves European Universities. Currently, 9 Dutch institutions of higher education are part of a European University. These are seven Dutch universities and, for the first time, two Dutch universities of applied sciences.

Apart from VHL, NHL Stenden is with the RUN-EU also part of a European University. Being part of a European university guarantees EU mobility and research funds for the coming years. Further elaboration of the plans and implementation of INVEST will take place this autumn.