U!REKA rectors discussed the EU’s climate goals in Brussels

18 Apr 2024 14:03 | Communication

U!REKA European University alliance’s rectors met in Brussels on 15-16 April 2024 to address the alliance’s shared goals and actions for accelerating the European path to climate-neutrality and to discuss the EU’s demand for skilled professionals.

U!REKA European University alliance started to deepen and broaden its collaboration with the Erasmus+ European University Initiative (EUI) co-funding in the beginning of this year. Six universities of applied sciences have united with 26 associate partners to become a lighthouse European University for challenge-based and collaborative learning and innovation.

The European Union aims to become climate-neutral by 2050 and it has set a mission to deliver 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030. Cities play a pivotal role in achieving the goal and are in high demand of skilled labour educated by the top higher education institutions to obtain this goal. The mission cities include, for instance, Amsterdam, Helsinki and Lisbon, all associate partners of the U!REKA European University alliance.

The President and CEO of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and the Chair of the U!REKA’s Steering Committee Riitta Konkola pointed out that U!REKA European University has a special possibility to correspond to the goal:

“This is not only a transformation process for higher education institutions but for societies. Together with our students, experts, and local ecosystem actors we will co-create a profound shift towards climate-neutral societies”, Konkola pointed out in her keynote for the panel discussion titled Bridging the Gap between the EU’s 2040 Climate Goals and the Shortage of Skilled Labour – Towards Climate Neutral and Smart Cities.

The panel discussion was organised by the Helsinki EU Office and accompanied by U!REKA rectors and representatives from the European Commission, European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE) and European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN). It was emphasised that besides new technical solutions for EU’s green and digital transition we need to focus on their applicability and societal readiness. This is the essence of co-design and co-creation in the U!REKA European University alliance where local ecosystems are connected into one cross-border community. While students gain digital and green competences they learn to work in international, multidisciplinary environments.

Photo: The panel discussion was organised by the Helsinki EU Office.

As part of the programme, the contribution of universities of applied sciences in preparing skilled professionals was also discussed in the meetings with directors from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment and Directorate General for Education and Culture as well as with members of the Cabinet of Commissioner Iliana Ivanova.

The rectors’ visit to Brussels was accompanied by the full partners of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (Finland), Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands), Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (Germany), HOGENT University of Applied Sciences (Belgium), Polytechnic University of Lisbon (Portugal), and VSB-Technical University of Ostrava (Czech Republic), as well as the associate university partners of Edinburgh Napier University (United Kingdom), Odessa National Economic University (Ukraine), University of Applied Sciences BFI Vienna (Austria), and University of Bari Aldo Moro (Italy).