By marielk. In our next edition of the “In Focus” series we would like to highlight a centre that is active in European policy debates concerning higher education. This introduction was written by Hedda graduate Inês Proença, who at the moment works at ESMU as a project officer.   ESMU – European Centre for Strategic Management of Universities was created in 1986 as  an international think tank non profit association to promote the strategic management of European universities. By offering management development programmes, benchmarking exercises and a learning environment on good management practices, ESMU brings valuable support to European universities striving to further their strategic developments.
(a network for heads of administration) and DEAN (a platform for deans and academic leaders) were launched to promote the professional development of senior university leaders. ESMU has a long experience with benchmarking in higher education with transnational benchmarking groups and two recent EU-funded projects under the framework of the Lifelong Learning Programme.
MODERN (European Platform Higher Education Modernisation)
, EU-DRIVERS (European Drivers for a Regional Innovation Platform) and EU-STEP (European Higher Education Study Tours) are other examples of networks, platforms  and projects which we have designed to support strategy formulation and implementation in European universities as well as the professionalization of higher education management.
ESMU is currently one of the partners in three consortia with a large Foundation and a number of large consultancy companies to provide services to DG Education and Culture of the European Commission all fields of European cooperation in education and training.  Under the scope of these large framework contracts, ESMU is currently involved in several studies / projects:

  • A comparative study between the EU and Mexico on the challenges brought about by the internationalisation of higher education and the transparency tools developed on both sides to facilitate mobility and academic cooperation (leading partner) (click to read more)
  • An analysis of existing co-operation in terms of academic mobility between the EU and Brazil and identification of the main obstacles to mobility  (leading partner) (click to read more)
  • Support services related to the Quality Assessment of Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses and doctorates – Fourth Phase of the Erasmus Mundus Quality Assessment Project (EMQA) (click to read more)

Other activities (past and present) include the yearly ESMU-HUMANE Winter School for senior Administrators, TEMPUS projects, projects on University-Enterprise cooperation and ESMU-EAIE Benchmarking Workshops and groups on Benchmarking Internationalisation. In addition, ESMU is involved in a number of other tailor made programmes.
Organisational Structure
ESMU has a Board and a Secretariat. The Board is the executive body of the association. It meets three times a year to discuss the policies of the Centre, to give orientations on future activities and monitor projects. The Chairman of the Board is currently prof. Frans van  Vught, Advisor EC President Barroso and former rector of Universiteit Twente (NL). The Secretariat executes the policy of the Board and co-ordinates all activities and projects in addition to liaising with project partners mainly but not exclusively in the European Union. For more information, visit ESMU website at