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Towards a European University

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About ECIU

ECIU University – a true European University

The ECIU University is an initiative of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU alliance) that creates a ground-breaking and innovative educational model on a European scale. Through the initiative, ECIU alliance builds the ECIU University with open and flexible system, an entire new concept of the European University for the future. 

Ultimate goal of ECIU University project is to establish a true European University where learners, researchers, business, public organizations and citizens are enabled to create relevant innovative solutions for real life challenges with real societal impact.

Ground-breaking and innovative University model

ECIU University is determined to change the way of delivering education from degree based to challenge-based. It brings to life true European university where learners and researchers cooperate with cities and businesses to solve real-life challenges.

The ECIU University represents a unique example of a European University creating, testing and evaluating not only an educational pedagogy but also a whole innovation system, steering all the university activities, from education to research, from administration and support to innovation and valorisation.

The ECIU University is an ambitious undertaking, with distinctive features that makes it unique:

Societal impact by solving challenges
At the ECIU University learners – students, researchers and employees from partner universities, partner companies and public organisations – join forces across disciplines to solve problems. Knowledge is offered through relevant academic courses, as and when needed, as well as through cutting-edge research. In this pilot phase the ECIU University focuses on challenges related to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. 

Flexible, diverse and tailored education
ECIU University is based on learning modules of high academic standard that are offered by partners from industry and society. New, open and easily accessible micro-credentials are created in collaboration with stakeholders. A Competence passport tailored to the learners' needs, instead of offering a fixed “one-size-fits-all” degree the increased flexibility to enable life-long learners to access education more easily.

Challenge-based education  
ECIU University will set up Innovation of Education Labs – physical and virtual spaces where teachers can innovate and deliver classes, meet peers and share best practices. Innovation in education is fostered in-creation with learners, industry and public organisations.   

Challenge-based research and innovation
The ECIU University Innovation Hubs will be used as physical and virtual locations combining open innovation methods. The necessary impact is generated organising people from different disciplines and professions, with different knowledge, skills and experience. This will also foster global interaction among scientists, regional and international stakeholders. 

Embedded mobility
Physical, virtual and blended mobility of learners, academic staff and staff of stakeholders is seamlessly integrated into all ECIU University activities. Staff and learners mobility is a core aspect of the challenge-based approach, allowing ECIU University can draw on the benefits of international diversity. Bringing together learners and teachers from many cultures with varied work experiences and different perspectives and approaches strengthens the European competitiveness by placing innovation at its core.

Societal impact by solving challenges

The increased number of complex local, as well as global challenges, makes it evident that there is a need for a new pedagogical approach to higher education – a construction of a learning and training process based on real life situations. The approach that that makes a difference and proposes a deep, engaging, meaningful and purposeful way of acquiring and developing the knowledge and skills needed for the future. The concept will be not limited but connected to research and innovation, making it challenge-based as well.

Universities are Europe’s keys to solving grand societal challenges. Innovative universities are not only connectors but also drivers of innovation ecosystems. They provide systemic change with the results of excellent research and their contributions to social transformation. Therefore challenge-based learning proposed by ECIU University is putting this role into practice.

At ECIU University learners, researchers and employees from partner companies and public organization join and solve problems working together and combining cutting-edge research in an interdisciplinary way. Challenges are posted by industrial and societal stakeholders. Knowledge is offered on a need, just in time, basis.

The challenge-based model offers flexible and open education that:

  • Engages different stakeholders to identify a challenge and form trans-national and trans-sectorial teams to work on that specific challenge.
  • Select challenges focusing on research, societal or innovation questions.
  • Develop relevant education pathways, e.g. micro-credentials, around the specific challenge.
  • Allow teams and individuals to participate in the educational activities and deliver outputs: services, products, research questions, start-ups and spin-offs.

In this pilot phase ECIU University focuses on challenges related to UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 „Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable“.

ECIU University for You

The challenge-based method provides learners and researchers with innovation skills and entrepreneurship attitude, as it puts together collaborative partnerships of different actors, with diverse background, coming from different sectors and disciplines (learners, researchers, industries, research & technology organizations, public authorities, academia’s staff). Different categories of people will then work together to identify European challenges and find relevant solutions, bringing to the discussion table different talents, backgrounds and expertise. 

Learn more about ECIU University for learners, teachers, researchers, companies and public institutions.

The Alliance of Mutual Trust and Innovation

The European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) is the leading international consortium of research intensive universities, with collective emphasis on innovation, creativity and societal impact, driving the development of a knowledge-based economy. Innovation and Entrepreneurship in our DNA.

Since 1997 ECIU has grown into the close-knit network of universities with mutual trust that enable the alliance to fully active and use partners’ potential. Altogether, they combine the necessary and diverse expertise required to execute the ambitious objectives of ECIU University initiative. Combining co-creation efforts on the European level enables the ECIU University to benefit from intercultural perspectives, different regional contexts, an economy of scale, easy access to an even wider range of knowledge and solutions.

We are a network of universities who are united by a common profile, by shared beliefs, interests and mutual trust. We believe in a university where scientists, learners, business and citizens are brought together to identify prominent societal challenges.

We believe in a university whose educational offer consists not only of standard programmes, but also in flexible, inclusive and recognised pathways open to any learner seeking the right knowledge to address well-defined societal challenges.

We believe in a university whose research activity is inspired and engages non-academic stakeholders, and whose innovation potential is supported and valorised through appropriate, trans-national instruments.

We believe in a university whose entire human capital is equipped with the mind-set, skills and instruments to embrace, support and co-create a wide European education community who shares the values of inclusiveness, recognition, relevance, and solidarity.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship is in our DNA.

Our Members

Industry Stakeholder

Engineering lngegneria Informatica SpA
Ericsson AB
Gruppo Novartis
Lietuvos Energija
Lyse Group
Sandoz Industrial Products S.p.A.
Sick AG
Suez Environment

Public Stakeholders

Autonomous Province of Trento
Barcelona City Council
Cerdanyola del Valles City
City of Enschede
City of Hamburg
City of Stavanger
City of Tampere
Confindustria Trento
Danish Minister of Higher Education
Fingal County Council
Hub lnnovazione Trentino
Inter-Municipal Community of the Region of Aveiro
Kaunas City Region
Kaunas District Municipality
Municipality of Trento
Oost NL
PIMEC 2030
Region Östergötland
Tampere Region

The Future of ECIU University

The strength of the ECIU alliance leads to long-term commitment and responsibility: the participating Universities have a shared interest in continuing the partnership and will rely on the project results in further developing the novel educational models for European HEA.

The ECIU University allows the ECIU alliance to establish the foundations for a true European university:

  • from the process of simply sharing knowledge, to the one of co-creating knowledge and education thanks to its challenge-based approach. In addition to joint standard curriculum, original and flexible educational pathways fully recognized by each participant will be created.
  • from testing to settling a unique and structured Innovation System to involve and connect relevant stakeholders from different regions in the same action.
  • from enhancing to embedding mobility in joined programmes for learners, researchers, HEIs’ staff and relevant stakeholders, not only by including mobility components in its educational programmes, but also creating physical/virtual locations to make the Innovation System and the education offer truly inclusive and collaborative.
  • by creating trans-institutional teams where researchers and stakeholders work together towards joint solutions for European challenges.
  • by sharing existing infrastructures and establishing joint structures for the common functioning of the ECIU University. 

The ECIU University Project is Funded by the European Commission

ECIU University is an initiative selected and funded by the European Commission, after it announced a call for European Universities as part of the EU Erasmus+ programme. European Universities are transnational alliances promoting European values, and working to revolutionise the quality and competitiveness of European higher education. The ECIU University project started in November, 2019 and will be implemented in 3 years.


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