The MER Consortium
The foundation for the MER Consortium is a great number of personal contacts, which have originated with research activities. These have then opened out to exchanges for teaching; they reached, finally, the institutional level. By accepting to support this project, the Partner institutions have noted the quality of their respective administrative services, showing mutual appreciation; likewise, a willingness to collaborate in fields other than strictly scientific. This long-term process started on the basis of the Erasmus Program, some 10 years ago. Also, the Marie-Curie programme, international research programmes in Oceanography or Environment (from the 5th Framework, until now), InterReg Programmes, and bilateral cooperation within the Euskadi-Navarra-Aquitania programme. All of these programmes were instrumental in organising the cooperation within the MER Consortium.
The Partner universities have a long tradition of teaching at the postgraduate level; they all have doctorate schools, where motivated students can enrol in a PhD programme. SOTON and UB have offered renowned postgraduate degrees in Oceanography and Marine Sciences for, between them, more than 40 years. Besides regular postgraduate studies, all Partners have been involved in pioneering educational networks at an European scale, within the field of marine and environmental sciences.
In academic year 2006-2007, an integrated Joint MSc Programme of high quality named “European MSc in Marine Environment and Resources” was started. Recognition and funding have been provided by National programmes (Top Master in Basque Government ranking 2007-2011; the Spanish Education Ministry Quality Award 2007-2012; the Spanish Education Ministry Mention to Excellence 2011-2014), the Cooperative French-Spanish MSc support programme (Ministries of Foreign Affairs), and the Mediterranean Office for Youth (MOY) Label 2012. These actions have covered research and education initiatives, but also administrative staff exchanges.
A fundamental strength of the programme is that all Partners share a common research interest but each one possesses its own expertise with some synergic overlaps. Collaboration involving staff members from the different Partners has been on-going on for many years, in research, teaching and international exchanges. Such complementarities provide the student with a complete overall perspective of the marine environment and resources, with the invaluable opportunity to follow specialisation with outstanding marine scientists of diverse expertise.
Details on each MER Consortium Partner are given in the MER Partnership section.