2/2017

ECIU brings together young, innovative universities

Tampere University of Technology (TUT) joined the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) at the beginning of 2017. ECIU promotes the internationalization of its member universities and represents their interests at the EU level.

ECIU rectors

 

The rectors and presidents of member universities define ECIU’s goals and guidelines. They met in Copenhagen in September 2017.

 

ECIU is a growing consortium that currently comprises 12 research-intensive universities. It has a goal to bring members on board from each country in Europe.

TUT was invited to join ECIU, as the University enjoys a strong reputation for industry collaboration and has been steadily climbing up global rankings. The fact that ECIU is more than a loose partnership between like-minded universities was an important consideration for TUT.

“ECIU is an active and well-organized international consortium established in 1997. All the member universities are expected to serve on its working groups,” says Minna Haka-Risku, ECIU's local coordinator at TUT.

Stronger international profile

“Judging by the number of international students and staff and the volume of English-taught courses and programmes, TUT is one of the most international universities in Finland. While our professors and researchers maintain close collaboration with colleagues from around the world, it is also important to be involved in cross-institutional networks,” says President Mika Hannula.

Hannula believes that ECIU membership will help strengthen TUT's international profile.

“We’re looking to promote the international mobility of our teachers and identify potential partner universities with which to establish long-term research projects. After international tuition fees are introduced in Finnish universities, we’re going to see even more competition for talented foreign students, so their recruitment is also a priority,” says Hannula.

Active working groups

ECIU’s coordinator is placed in the University of Twente in the Netherlands. The practical work is undertaken by working groups, which are made up of employees from the member universities. TUT is well represented and has a seat on both of ECIU’s largest working groups. One of them focuses on innovation in teaching and learning and the other on entrepreneurship and societal impact.

“As ECIU aims to increase the exchange of students within the consortium by 20 per cent, the member universities are developing customized programmes for exchange students. TUT could, for example, offer a tailored package of currently available, English-taught bachelor’s courses to students from the other member universities,” says Haka-Risku.

The members are also working on international double degree programmes and an online course on entrepreneurship. In addition, ECIU has launched a development programme for teachers and education developers. The first implementation round of the programme is currently underway, with two representatives from each member university.

“To increase international recruitment, we’ve agreed to advertise all positions that become vacant in the member universities on ECIU’s website.”

From exchange agreements to EU projects and from legal matters to marketing

TUT has experience of previous collaboration with all of ECIU’s member universities. Exchange agreements remain in place between TUT and almost all the members in accordance with ECIU’s regulations.

“UK universities have been reluctant to sign bilateral exchange agreements in the past. Thanks to ECIU, we now have the University of Nottingham as part of our network of potential host universities."

Haka-Risku says that a key part of ECIU’s mission is to influence EU policies that are relevant for the consortium. To this end, ECIU recently hired an employee to represent its interests in the EU.

The sharing of good practices is an important aspect of all collaboration.

“When universities come together to share experiences, we gain new insights and ideas for developing our University. We only have to make sure that the insights are put into action,” says Hannula.

Text: Kati Vastamäki
Photo: ECIU’s archive

 
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