The 2022 Annual meeting of the Danube Rectors' Conference

Confluence of Sava river and Danube in Belgrade (c) Wikipedia



Embracing the European programme for digitalisation, the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC) meets this year to discuss the main pillars of digital transformation in light of the green deal of a unified Europe, with an emphasis on resilience and on the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. In parallel, participants of the first DRC Initiative Fund as well as of DRC Strategic Foresight project will meet with the winners of the Danubius Young Scientist Awards 2022 and present to their universities’ rectors their view on Open Science from the perspective of Danube region’s doctoral students and young researchers, who are in part responsible for the future of the region.


The 2022 Annual Conference of the Danube Rectors' Conference takes place at the University of Maribor, Slovenia, on 9.-11. November 2022.


For more information, please visit our dedicated webpage The 2022 DRC Annual Meeting.

Research power along the Danube

Confluence of Sava river and Danube in Belgrade (c) Wikipedia


Between its source in the Black Forest and its mouth on the Black Sea, the Danube traverses 2,872 kilometres and shares shores with ten countries. The Danube Rectors' Conference (DRC) is a strong network of almost 70 universities in this region. Our aim is to improve higher education in teaching and research, and the advancement of our member universities by establishing sustainable contacts.


The DRC is Affiliate member of the European University Association (EUA)



We mourn the passing of Erhard Busek


The Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) as the seat of DRC Permanent Secretariat mourns the death of IDM chairman, former Vice-Chancellor Dr Erhard Busek. His family announced his passing during the night of 13-14 March 2022. The members of the board, the managing director, as well as the staff at the IDM are filled with the deepest sorrow. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and relatives.

© European Union, ECDC
© European Union, ECDC


We are experiencing extraordinary and difficult times. All European countries and their institutions, including universities, are currently tackling with the spread of the COVID-19 disease.


How are the DRC member universities responding to the current challenging situation? They share with us their experience, know-how and good practices regarding distance learning and E-learning. Click here for more information on the measures introduced at the universities.


News from our network

See below the latest news and browse in our archive.


For news from our Presidency, please click here.

DRC Presidency 2023-2024 elected!



Following the elections of the new presidency during the DRC General Assembly on 11 November 2022, we gladly announce the new DRC Presidency for the period 2023-2024. 


Beginning with 1 January 2023, Mag. Friedrich Faulhammer, Rector of the University for Continuing Education Krems, takes over the position of DRC President. The role of the new Vice-Presidents will be assumed by former DRC President Prof. Dr. Zdravko Kačič, Rector of the University of Maribor, and Prof. Dr. Daniel David, Rector of the Babeş-Bolyai University.

We would like to congratulate the newly elected Presidency and are looking forward to the cooperation during the upcoming two years. We are confident the members of the new Presidency will continue DRC’s mission to strengthen the ties among its members and through the continuation of various initiatives to further increase DRC‘s presence in the Danube Region and beyond. 

Ivana Popović elected as Acting Honorary President

Following the decision of DRC General Assembly on 11 November 2022, the DRC is pleased to announce the election of former DRC President and Vice-President Ivanka Popović as DRC Acting Honorary President. We would like to thank Prof. Popović for all efforts and valuable contribution in her previous roles within DRC Presidency and look forward to continuing the successful cooperation in the upcoming years!

We are also glad to announce that Ivanka Popović has also been nominated for the position of EUA President. The DRC Presidency fully supports her nomination as it is convinced that her election as EUA president would not only strengthen the voice of universities from Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, but she would firmly represent and promote the interests of the EUA members.



IDM/DRC Ukraine Fellowships

The Russian invasion on Ukraine had devastating consequences for the higher education. The IDM together with the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC) decided to grant two Ukrainian students or early-career researchers a fellowship.


The fellowship gives the recipient the possibility to complete research on their MA or PhD thesis. If necessary, IDM/DRC supports the fellow in finding a supervisor. The fellowship holder also has the opportunity to gain insights into the work of IDM as a non-university research institute.

The IDM therefore provides a workplace and invites the student to participate in the activities of the Institute as well as to contribute to the work of IDM team members.


The first fellow is Olga Kyrychenko who is a PhD student at Odesa Mechnikov National University in the Department of International Economic Relations. Prior to that Olga graduated from the Odesa State Ecological University (Department of Ecology and Environmental Protection). From 2007 until 2021 she had worked as Managing Production Coordinator at Shipmodelling Centre “Albatros” ltd . Olga was born in Odesa. She is married and has a 5-year-old son.


Our second fellow is Anastasiya Lendel, a student at the Uzhhorod National University. She is also studying International Business at the University of Ljubljana. Anastasiya is fluent in 4 languages, loves writing poems and has 14-year experience of professional dancing.

From Fictional to Functioning Democracy Developing Concepts and Strategies for an Inclusive and Participatory Europe (FIFUDEM)

“From Fictional to Functioning Democracy Developing Concepts and Strategies for an Inclusive and Participatory Europe (FIFUDEM)”

Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) in cooperation with Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC)

The Rationale behind the accepted project proposal was based on the observation that liberal democracy has been eroding for years, so that in some cases we could speak of fictional instead of functioning elements of democracies. Whereas the project focuses specifically on the region of Central East and Southeast Europe, events during the project period such as the attack of the US Capitol or the severe repression of protesters in Hong Kong by the authorities shed light on the global dimension of the problem.  

Threats such as populism, attacks on the separation of powers as well as corruption are shared by both young and consolidated democracies. Nevertheless, countries of the Danube Region face region-specific issues regarding their geopolitical position, their historical legacies and non at least the existing socio-economic disparities between old and new EU member states and those waiting in limbo for potential EU accession.  

Based on this status quo, present project aimed to scrutinize the contexts and causes of so-called illiberal, respectively fictional democracy, to develop concepts and strategies of strengthening liberal, respectively functioning democracy and its functioning political communication as well as active citizenship in an inclusive and participatory EU. Furthermore, it followed the goal to disseminate the project’s findings through awareness raising activities, events and publications for different target groups on the local, regional, national, international and EU level.  

The consortium aimed to conduct research on European integration and enlargement in its focus region and disseminating the project’s results through the international IDM publications, events, and network as well as through the network of the IDM project partner, the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC), including 65 university members. All these various activities aimed to affect various segments of the public discourse on the importance of strengthening liberal and functioning democracy and to support active citizenship in an inclusive and participatory European Union. 

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard and required a high level of adaptability to keep track with the goals of the project. While some activities had to be cancelled, particularly those outside of Austria, new digital formats were developed and offered the chance to connect people from various countries despite lockdowns and travel restrictions. In early 2022, when the pandemic seemed to finally calm down a bit thanks to vaccinations, the next crisis hit. With the Russian attack on Ukraine, some project activities had to be adapted once again. 

Some results of the project regarding Publications are IDM Info, which is the print newsletter of the IDM and is published four times a year with updates on the project in various issues during the project period; the IDM’s academic journal "Der Donauraum", which brings together contributions from experts in the fields of political science and communication studies, international relations, contemporary history and sociology and was conventionalized based on the FIFUDEM kickoff conference in January 2021; The IDM Policy Paper Series (IDM PPS) deals at regular intervals with current political issues with a focus on the Danube region, Central and South Eastern Europe. 

Some of the events that took place during the Project are: Kickoff Conference 2020, Young Scholars Forum 2020, Train the trainer seminar 2021/2022, DRC Annual Meeting 2021, IDM@GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum 2022, DRC Summer School 2022, Final Conference 2022, 5 Democracy Talks.

During the Final Conference in July 2022, project partners hosted a panel discussion on concrete actions for democracies in Europe. The 5th Democracy Talk entitled "Let's talk about anger management!" focused about forms of mobilisation and engagement. Thomas Prorok, panelist and Managing Director of the Centre for Public Administration Research (KDZ) in Vienna, brought up the idea of a "Greenpeace for Democracy". He stated that Europe, particularly the Danube Region, would need a membership-based international organisation similar to established civil society organisations in the areas of environment or Human Rights. Although starting as a small grassroot activist network,  International Non Governmental Organisations (INGOs) such as Greenpeace managed to institutionalize and transnationalize to a certain level without losing certain national and regional autonomy and embeddedness. Based on strategic professioal campaigns  they are able to mobilise a broad and diverse pool of followers. Whereas Greenpeace is considered an influential actor on supra-national levels such as the EU institutions, practice lobbying and are very active in scientific research, they have not neglected to organise local actions such as  occupations, sit-ins or other media-friendly protest activities. We suggest to further investigate the successes and constraints of INGOs, to identify best practices for a new movement or organisation - similar to "Greenpeace for Democracy" - that could learn from past successes and failures. Such research could provide the basis of a more media-affected communications and a campaign-oriented way of democracy promotion e.g. by utilizing storytelling methods and other mobilisation strategies known from Social Movement Research. This would require to deconstruct the abstract topic of democracy to more tangible pillars (media freedom, inclusion, participation, etc.) and to further  develop key stories and target groups for a more emotionalized and personalized approach. Also, Greenpeace's success is based on concrete wins against certain policies or projects. Therefore a democracy-focused INGO would need to first identify concrete cases of democratic backsliding, and act very goal-oriented against such attacks (e.g. on the rule of law). Successes need to be measured and made visible which poses a challenge for many existing actors and projects. 


You can check out the Final Report here:

FIFUDEM Final Report
FIFUDEM Final Report.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.1 MB

Call for DRC members to nominate candidates for the new DRC Presidency

By the end of this year, the  2-year tenancy of our current  Presidency, composed by Rector Prof. Dr. Zdravko Kačič,  Prof. Ivanka Popović and Rector Mag. Friedrich Faulhammer, will come to an end. During the last two years, the DRC was able to prepare, and implement numerous projects, initiatives and events that contributed to the growth, integration and progressive development of the higher education and academia in the Danube Region. In their role as the 2020 – 2022 DRC presidency,  Prof. Dr. Kačič, Prof. Popović and Mag. Faulhammer  contributed significantly to our achievements by  representing  and  affirming  the values and ambitions of the DRC.  We already want to express our gratitude and acknowledgement for their  dedication  of effort, time and conviction towards the mission of the DRC and its implemented projects. 


The last two years showed us the great potential and need for further engagement and support the DRC could undertake in the Danube region for both its member universities, as well as its societies in general. The increasing democratic backsliding in several Member States of the European Union significantly affecting university autonomy and governance, the renewed ideological and political tensions, and, lastly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine call for enhanced actions and involvement of the DRC also in the upcoming years. 


The DRC presidency plays a crucial role for the external representation, performance and involvement of the DRC in the process of developing answers and solutions for the current challenges of the region in the areas of higher education and research. Thus, as in the previous years,  we hope to find proactive and ambitious candidates for the DRC Presidency  who continue our mission to strengthen the ties among our members, as further also foster the awareness raising and involvement of the DRC  in the Danube Region  during  the 2022 – 2024  period. 


To find the best candidates for this demanding and prestigious position, we call on the representatives of the DRC member universities to nominate their candidates. Eligible for the position are all Rectors of universities that are full members of the DRC. After having gathered a list of official nominees, the DRC General Assembly will come together and elect the new presidency. 


We encourage you  as an active DRC  member,  to nominate an eligible candidate for the 2022 - 2024 DRC Presidency. 


Please send your nomination together with a brief explanation of your reasons to propose the candidate in form of a duly signed pdf document to the DRC Permanent Secretariat:   


We are looking forward to receiving your nominations for the new DRC Presidency!

DRC Annual Conference 2022 from 9th - 11th of November 2022 at the University of Maribor

From the 9th until the 11th of November 2022, the DRC  invites representatives of all  its  member universities   to  take part in the  DRC Annual Conference 2022. This year, the conference will be hosted and organized by  the University of Maribor in Slovenia. The upcoming meeting will provide participants with the opportunity  to exchange ideas on the issue of “Digital Transformation of the Danube Higher Education Area in Conditions of Recovery”, as also further to network and connect with   experts and scholars from the Danube Region. 


Together with the University of Maribor,   the DRC is currently planning and developing a concrete  programme for the event. We are however already confident to say that a combination of capturing lectures, speeches and debates that  will not only challenge  our participants’  thoughts and opinions,  but  will  further contribute to the growth and development of higher education in the Danube Region  is awaiting you in November.  The main topics touched upon during the 3 days of the Conference will concern the green digitalisation via regional and local actions, the planning for a high resilience against upcoming future crises and the role that universities play in this regard. Within this thematic framework,  we  plan to focus on the European initiatives in Big Data or High Performance Computing, Open Science for the European Higher Education and Research Area, as well as on Cybersecurity for the providing of trust into the role of science, research in truth  and against terror with fake news. 


Moreover, to foster cultural exchange and connections amongst our members, the  programme will not fall short  in social activities and excursions. Common dinners and lunches will surely constitute a pleasant opportunity for you to get to know everyone and to recapitulate on the issues stressed during the day. 


Special about this year's DRC Annual Conference is that, throughout the course of the gathering, the participants of the first DRC Initiative Fund will meet with alumni of the Danubius Young Scientists Awards and present to the rectors of their universities their view on the Open Science from the view of doctoral studies and young researchers of the future within the Danube region. 


Another unprecedented highlight of the 2022 DRC Annual Meeting constitutes the presentation of the work  created within the scope of the  DRC Strategic Foresight Project. As part of the presentation you will not only get the chance to meet with the project participants, but also to have a look to the final publication of the project consisting of future scenarios and policy recommendations in the areas of  University Autonomy and Governance, Science and Learning in Digital Era, Scientific Research for European Decision Making, as well as  Employability of Students and Early-stage researchers.  The project results represent a unique approach to the strategic foresight focused on higher education and academia in the Danube Region which will certainly also serve you as a valuable projection of the near future in your working field.


We are very much looking forward to your participation in the Annual Conference taking place at the University of Maribor in November 2022! 


A detailed  programme of the DRC Annual Conference 2022, as well as a link to register for the event, will be made available in September on the DRC website. 


We hope to see as many representatives of DRC member universities as possible at the Annual Conference!