Open Database

What is a Reform University?

Reform universities are institutions intended for reform. They not only aim at enlarging the landscape of higher education, but also to renew it. Reform universities are often characterized by:

  • Flexible and less hierarchical organizational structures
  • Interdisciplinarity and openness to new fields of research
  • Forms of general education that prepares students to become active citizens
  • A focus on contemporary societal problems and challenges
  • Inclusiveness and openness to marginalized groups
  • Education and research in close collaboration with the rest of society.

Open Laboratories and Collaboratories

An important mission of the reform universities, from the beginning, was to engage with society. The university should not be an ivory tower, detached from its surroundings. During the last half century, reform universities have therefore also embraced a series of institutional innovations to ensure society-university collaboration. The purpose of these are not only knowledge transfer, from university to society, but also the empowerment of citizens and the co-production of knowledge. One such innovation is spaces, which invite citizens into the universities and allow citizens as well as students to pursue research and creative activities on their own terms.  These are called open laboratories. For examples in ERUA, see here Another innovation is institutions, which aim to bring the university out into the world, starting from the science shops of the 1970s–these are called collaboratories. For examples in ERUA, see here

How to Search

ERUA Booklet

If you are interested in knowing more about the universities in the European Reform
University Alliance, the instructions below should help you navigate the university webpages.

Learn more about the founding of the reform universities of the 20th century and deep dive into the their history through our ERUA Booklet