On 9–10 June the ECIU University Board, composed of the Rectors, Directors and Vice-Rectors of the ECIU member universities, met at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuania. The Board meeting agenda had several strategic topics, including the next steps toward the ECIU University Vision, the European Legal Statute, and the approval of the ECIU Recognition Accord.
“ECIU University for all of us is much more than a project, it is our way of thinking about the future of Higher Education in Europe,” said Màrius Martínez, the ECIU President.
He commented on the meeting as having valuable discussions and important steps taken toward the ambitions and the Vision 2030.
A recognised European legal statute is essential for delivering on the ECIU University’s ambitions as outlined in Vision 2030. Recently, the European Commission opened the pilot on institutionalised EU cooperation instruments to explore the feasibility of a possible European legal status. During the meeting, the Board agreed on the strategic relevance of applying for this call to co-shape the European legal statute for European University Alliances.
The Board members also discussed the next steps after the publication of two important ECIU position papers. In May 2022, ECIU University launched the Challenge-Based Research (CBR) way of working as an opportunity to increase the impact of academic research. It is a way of directing innovation and research power to achieve broader social, policy and economic goals. The ECIU Board discussed the implementation of the CBR in the ECIU University ecosystem, which is of specific relevance for the ECIU University Smart European Regions (SMART-ER) initiative.
Another important document, the third ECIU micro-credentials paper, was presented on Friday, June 17, 2022. It strengthens the frontrunner role of the ECIU University related to micro-credentials. This new paper focuses on the lessons learnt within the ECIU University in implementing micro-credentials across the member universities and recommendations to support movement in Europe and beyond.
A significant milestone for the ECIU University and its learners was the approval of the ECIU Recognition Accord by the Board. The ECIU University, with its challenge-based learning, micro-modules, and other learning opportunities represents a break from traditional formats. Therefore, the integration of ECIU University activities into the existing quality assurance context of member universities is key. With approving the ECIU Recognition Accord, the foundation was laid for the joint acceptance and promotion of ECIU learning opportunities.
Among fruitful discussion and strategic decisions, the meeting in Kaunas had another opportunity to celebrate. The KTU team invited the Board members to join the opening of the modern ECIU University space on the premises of the KTU Campus Library. The new space is equipped to suit the needs of hybrid, online/onsite meetings and events. The space to meet and work together is an important tool to foster the international and multi-disciplinary dimensions of the ECIU University.
“As Kaunas universities celebrate their centenary, we are starting a new page. The opening of the ECIU university space is a symbolic action, a gift to the community and our ambition to create a university for a new generation. The creation of this space is another step forward in educating the citizens of the future: open, creative, innovative, brave,” said KTU Rector Eugenijus Valatka during the opening of the ECIU University space.
Martínez also distinguished the opening of the ECIU University space at KTU as a special moment of the Board meeting.
“Colleagues from all across Europe are impressed by this innovative collaborative space that connects societal stakeholders, researchers and learners to find answers to societal challenges. This new space clearly shows the strong commitment of KTU towards our European University that is transforming research, education and innovation for the benefit of society,” said the ECIU President.
The ECIU university together with other 13 innovative and strong European universities aims to be the first alliance of higher education institutions to take a challenging approach to education, research and innovation. KTU joined the ECIU network in 2016 and directs dissemination and communication activities at ECIU University. The institutional manager of the project at KTU is Kristina Ukvalbergienė.