The European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) was granted the European Union Erasmus programme support to continue building ECIU University. Alongside member universities, ECIU, as a foundation, is included as a beneficiary for the grant. ECIU University is one of the first European Universities to receive the grant as an organisation.
The next steps of the joint European University will strengthen the development of three key innovative concepts in higher education: flexible learning pathways, micro-credentials, and the challenge-based approach.
The ECIU flexible learning pathways are the core concept within the ECIU University ecosystem. ECIU University replaces the traditional ‘degree’ with a European competence passport. ECIU University will continue to work on pathways based entirely on the learners' choices and needs. The modules and challenges will be offered to the learner according to an individual motivation scan. Successful completion will result in a digital competence passport that will store micro-credentials and update learning outcomes continuously.
Micro-credentials are now gaining momentum. They are seen as a promising tool to boost lifelong learning and employability within Europe. ECIU has taken the lead in piloting micro-credentials for a couple of years now, allowing the best practices and lessons learned to be transferred to the second phase of ECIU University. In upcoming years, the majority of ECIU member universities will start issuing micro-credentials assuring the necessary advance in the micro-credential movement.
Challenge-based learning approach has been proven to be a successful educational tool to engage learners, teachers, staff members and stakeholders in solving real-life challenges. At ECIU University, more than 400 students and more than a 100 teachers and staff members have been involved in past years, solving more than 60 challenges proposed by industry, cities and communities. In addition to this, micro-modules were offered to learners to deepen their knowledge. Within the next years, challenges and micro-modules will continue to be the key components of flexible learning opportunities, offered to the communities inside ECIU and continuous learners outside the alliance.
In the first pilot years, ECIU University challenges focused on Sustainable development goal no. 11 “Sustainable cities and communities”. In the next phase, ECIU University challenges will cover a wider area of globally relevant topics, like Climate change.
Sander Lotze, Project Director of ECIU University, considers several ecosystem elements to be crucial for the successful implementation of the next phase. “First and foremost, ECIU University has to serve people. We need to continue building the communities of practice within ECIU University, with more learners, academic staff and stakeholders engaged. Related to that, a sustainable IT infrastructure is needed. With the budget granted by the EU, ECIU will be empowered to better support the realization of these joint ambitions”.
The director is convinced that in the next few years the ECIU University community needs to grow significantly. “The second phase of ECIU University will bridge current pilot developments to the establishment of a start-up. This will result in the deepening of the cooperation and strengthening of community relations across multiple levels. By 2026, ECIU University will be an ecosystem of thousands of learners, hundreds of staff members and external stakeholders, creating a sustainable societal impact in Europe. I am looking forward to it”, says Lotze.
ECIU University’s next phase will start in November 2022. It will receive a budget of up to €14.4 million from the Erasmus+ programme for four years. The ECIU University will continue to be built by 13 ECIU member universities.
Established in 1997, ECIU is the leading international network of research-intensive universities, with a collective emphasis on innovation, creativity and societal impact.