U!REKA submits renewed bid to become a European University

27 Feb 2020 09:00 | Communication

The Urban Research and Education Knowledge Alliance (U!REKA) consortium is setting its sights on the 2020 European Universities project and its vision of creating the European universities of the future.

The European Universities Initiative (EUI) is a project funded under the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme to develop new models of collaboration in higher education across Europe. The projects sees higher education institutions working together so that a new generation of creative Europeans are able to cooperate across languages, borders and disciplines to address the big societal challenges and skills shortages that Europe faces.

These objectives resonate very strongly with all of the members of the U!REKA alliance and presents them with the unique opportunity to be a pioneer in European higher education development. U!REKA therefore submitted its application to the Education, Audiovisual and Cultural Executive Agency (EACEA) at the end of February 2020.

A growing network of European universities

The Urban Research and Education Knowledge Alliance (U!REKA) is a network of eight European universities. It was established in 2016, initially including Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Oslo Metropolitan University and University College Ghent (HOGENT). In late 2019 the consortium expanded its reach to include two new partners: Politécnico de Lisboa (IPL) and Technical University of Ostrava (VSB-TUO).

U!REKA’s presence in Europe now spans approximately 165,000 students and 15,000 staff. Its impact stretches across the four regions of the European Higher Education Area, covering approximately 14.4 million European citizens. By expanding the consortium further, U!REKA is strengthening its bid to participate in the EUI programme, while building on the lessons learned in its prior application.

U!REKA’s EUI mission

U!REKA intends to become a European University renowned for educating high quality European professionals, serving as an example in the European Higher Education Area and beyond. The guiding principles of the (future) U!REKA European University are: professionalism, inclusiveness, sustainability, student-centred, impact-focused, research-based, skills and partnership-driven.

“As an international applied research, innovation and education network with common goals, U!REKA’s ambition is to educate, shape and deliver the EU professionals of tomorrow. The renewed EUI application is an important milestone that brings our alliance one step closer to realising its ambition of becoming a European University,” says Huib de Jong, Executive Board Chairman at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

The future U!REKA European University collaborative model is based on:

Professional innovation

U!REKA European University will provide the educational and multicultural context where students and staff can develop from novice to an expert level, thriving on professional agency by being critically reflective, having an interdisciplinary and experimental mindset and acting sustainably. By learning to create opportunities in our urban areas, to develop key competences for life and innovate professionalism, our students will become hands-on skills-based experts in tackling urban challenges in the European society of tomorrow.

Interdisciplinary competence building

Apart from being equipped with excellent technical skills European professionals of tomorrow need to have the confidence to use these skills in our multicultural urban settings, in an interdisciplinary and interprofessional way. This stimulates innovation and enables greater mobility across Europe. Our U!REKA European University model will ensure that these enabling competences, or “soft skills”, are seamlessly integrated in the student’s journey from enrolment to graduation and beyond.

Engagement, co-creation and continuous improvement

Outreach to external stakeholders (private, public, third sector and civil society actors) is key to ensure that the delivery of teaching and skills development is intrinsically linked to society’s needs. Students gain valuable professional experience prior to joining the labour market. U!REKA European University’s new collaboration model relies on engagement with its urban stakeholders and facilitates co-creation to allow us to be equally adaptable to change and responsive to continuous improvement in teaching and research.

Enhance participation and mobility

Based on the notion that Europe is a value-driven community that needs protection, support and promotion, a shared U!REKA (urban) identity takes very seriously its responsibility to act as a vehicle for social mobility and creating friendship, shared cultures and other ties between citizens and communities within Europe and overseas. To this end, widening participation and supporting physical and online mobility experiences on our campuses, amongst our students and staff, will be key features of our U!REKA European University.