Students will be able study for degrees by completing modules across a “seamless” network of European universities under a new initiative.
Trinity and DCU have been selected to take part in the "European University" alliance, which is being piloted over the next three years by the European Commission.
The move has been spearheaded by French president Emmanuel Macron, who has said the network will help forge a greater sense of belonging and identity among Europeans.
In all, some 114 higher education institutions from across the EU are participating in the initiative, which aims to strengthen mobility of students and staff across what officials describe as a new “European education area”.
Students will be granted “micro-credits” for individual courses instead of a fixed “one-size-fits-all” degree.
The selection of European universities includes a broad range of higher education institutions from across the EU, from universities of applied sciences, technical universities and universities of fine arts to comprehensive and research-intensive universities.
The European Commission says these networks will become “inter-university campuses around which students, doctoral candidates, staff and researchers can move seamlessly”.
“They will pool their expertise, platforms and resources to deliver joint curricula or modules covering various disciplines,” the commission said, in a statement.
“These curricula will be very flexible and will allow students to personalise their education, choosing what, where and when to study and get a European degree.”
Another aim is to ensure students in these networks will be able to help find solutions to the challenges in their regions in conjunction with companies, municipal authorities, academics and researchers.
Minister of State for higher education Mary Mitchell O’Connor said it was an exciting time in the evolution of the higher education system.
“Integrated teaching, learning and research across borders is now a reality,” she said.
“Students and learners of the future will truly be able to leverage the advantages of European partnerships across the member states.”
She said these partnerships were the “trailblazers” in the initiative and there will be further opportunities for institutes to join the network later in the year.
The 114 higher education institutions taking part in this first phase of the project are divided into 17 different groups.
DCU, for example, forms part of the “European Consortium of Innovative Universities” which includes universities in Denmark, Spain, Germany and Finland.
Brian MacCraith, president of DCU said the university will work to create a new learning experience for students that will prepare them to address the “big problems facing society”.
Trinity forms part of a separate network of five universities known as the “Charm (challenge-drive, accessible, research-based, mobile) European University.” This includes universities in Spain, France and the Netherlands.
Provost of Trinity Dr Patrick Prendergast said the network will focus on the UN’s sustainable development goals and providing training to European students in becoming “global citizens”.
“We need education programmes and research at the frontiers of knowledge to reduce poverty and the overall human pressure on our planet. A truly sustainable planet requires a global effort,” he said.
Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for education, said: "I am pleased to see the ambition of the first 17 European Universities, which will act as role models for others across the EU.
"They will enable the next generations of students to experience Europe by studying in different countries.
“I am convinced that this initiative, a key building block of the European Education Area, will be a real game changer for higher education in Europe, boosting excellence and inclusion.”