The higher education sector is key for finding solutions towards a sustainable and more digital Europe, as well as for equipping students (and professors) with the competences that our fast-changing society and economy need. In May 2021 the Council of the EU adopted conclusions on the European Universities initiative with “the aim of bridging higher education, research, innovation and society: paving the way for a new dimension in European higher education.” European Universities transnational alliances will become the universities of the future, promoting European values and identity, and revolutionising the quality and competitiveness of European higher education, in an optic of international cooperation, peer-learning and exchange of best practices between European higher education institutions and those from non-EU priority regions and countries.
The Skillman International Forum 2021 took place from 15-18 November 2021 and aimed to redefine the future of learning in the advanced manufacturing sector. On 17 November the AER held an online mutual-learning webinar on ‘CAPACITY BUILDING IN HIGHER EDUCATION II – A European Strategy for Universities.’ This year the forum addressed three main topics: Digital and green revolution, Micro-credentials and Sharing is caring.
The question posed in relation to this webinar was: How can the EU further support the higher education sector to contribute to the twin digital and green transitions?
Defining Capacity Building for Higher Education
Johanna Pacevicius, AER Coordinator for Policy and Knowledge Sharing, and moderator of the webinar, together with Anna Comacchio, AER Project and Policy Officer, introduced the topic of capacity building in higher education together with the speakers that were present.
The webinar looked at digital capacity building opportunities, ensuring it is reinforced and made more resilient, especially considering the impact COVID-19 had on learning. Next to the digital aspect, green and sustainable capacity building solutions for higher education were also discussed, to explore how the EU can further support the higher education sector to contribute to the twin digital and green transitions.
The idea of Capacity Building in Higher Education (HE) was to be in continuity with the Erasmus 2014-2020 calls (KA 1, 2, 3) where capacity-building projects in the higher education field are aimed at supporting modernization, accessibility, and internationalization in HE structures in Europe. But with the new programme 2021-2027, the topic has been removed. Therefore, from this year on, universities find a more general place for capacity building in COVEs, the Alliances and the European University Initiative.
On 25 November 2021, the Commission launched the calls for proposals under the Erasmus+ call for 2022, following the adoption of the 2022 annual work programme. With an increased budget of nearly €3.9 billion for the next year, Erasmus+ will continue to provide opportunities for study periods abroad, traineeships, apprenticeships, and staff exchanges and cross border cooperation projects in different areas of education and training, youth and sport. In addition to the general call, the annual work programme also includes other actions to be launched separately, such as indeed the European Universities initiative.
The webinar counted on three professional speakers in the field of higher education. The discussion was opened by a presentation by our first speaker; Armando Pires, president of EURASHE. EURASHE represents universities of applied sciences and university colleges and aims to strengthen the impact of innovative high quality professional higher education and related user-oriented research in Europe. They do this by representing professional higher education institutions and facilitating their multi-stakeholder cooperation and dialogue. Mr Pires underlined that in a changing world, it is vital “to connect research and innovation” in HE, and stressed the need to “address local needs through regional engagement”. In the field of capacity building, the role of HE is to support the development of a European approach to micro-credentials. Building capacity in HE goes indeed hand-in-hand with building capacity in Innovation and Research, explains Mr Pires. The HE sector has been proving its capacity to adapt to the new reality brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. We witnessed the role played by digital tools in ensuring learning development, not only in HE. “Considering the impact of Covid on economy and society, we must join forces and connect institutions, and research at the local, regional level. “
The discussion was continued by Anouk Tso, from the University of Amsterdam, and project officer for EPICUR, Work Package Leader: Multilingualism & Inclusive Governance, and Dr. Thrasyvoulos Tsiatsos, Assoc. Prof Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, EPICUR, WP4 Leader.
EPICUR, the European University Alliance, belongs to the first generation of European Alliances to pilot a new way of intensifying collaboration among Higher Education institutions through the creation of a European University. Their presentation addressed the “Flipped Mobility Concept and its support by the digital EPICUR Inter-University Campus”,
Ms Tso began by explaining the four reasons behind the implementation of the flipped mobility programme by EPICUR, to enrich the learning experience for students, for teaching staff to make teaching exciting and European, for researchers to share knowledge and give them bridging opportunities, and to boost viability to refresh study programmes. Mr Tsiatsos continued by explaining the flipped mobility concept and with it its difference from traditional mobility, in the sense that it brings the resources to the students and the staff instead of the other way around, which gives the users greater accessibility. The flipped mobility scheme introduced by EPICUR is completely paperless, and thus contributes to the green transition, as well as, of course, the digital transformation. Above all, EPICUR encourages students, teachers, researchers and staff to cross borders, geographically, culturally and academically.
Open and Future EU funding opportunities and initiatives
- NEW CulturEU funding guide: an interactive online tool for EU Funding Opportunities for the Cultural and Creative Sectors
- Join the ‘Social Economy Action Plan Launch Event‘ on 16th December 2021
- Apply for the Erasmus+ open call for grants ‘Alliances for Education and Enterprises’ by 15 September 2022
- Apply for the Erasmus+ open call for grants ‘Partnership for Excellence – Erasmus+ Teacher Academies’ by 7 September 2022
- Apply for the Erasmus+ open call for grants ‘Capacity Building in the field of Vocational Education and Training (VET)’ by 31 March 2022
- Apply for the Erasmus+ open call for grants ‘Strand 1 – Fostering access to cooperation in higher education’ by 17 February 2022
- Apply for the Erasmus+ open call for grants ‘Strand 2 – Partnerships for transformation in higher education’ by 17 February 2022
- [Forthcoming]: Apply for the Horizon Europe open call for grants ‘Acceleration Services in support of the institutional transformation of Higher Education Institutions’ by 20 April 2022
- Apply for the Erasmus+ open call for grants ‘European Universities – Intensification of prior deep institutional transnational cooperation (Topic 1)’ by 22 March 2022
- Apply for the Erasmus+ open call for grants ‘European Universities – Development of new deep institutional transnational cooperation (Topic 2)’ by 22 March 2022
- Apply for the Erasmus+ open call for grants ‘Cooperation Partnerships in the field of Education & Training – submitted by ENGOs’ by 23 March 2022
Skillman.eu is a worldwide community of practitioners, researchers, and institutions engaged in technical and vocational education and training (TVET). It’s a network that aims at creating work-based learning solutions to respond to the challenges of skills shortages in industry with a participatory model and a peer learning approach. The network develops tools consistent with industry needs and relevant to the latest education challenges introduced also by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.