A European University and partnership network paves the way for collaboration also in Tampere
“I believe that ECIU University will be able to claim its place as a new European player that complements national universities,” says Heli Harrikari.
Tampere University is one of the thirteen members of ECIU, the European Consortium of Innovative Universities, that are building the ECIU University - a joint European University.
During three pilot years, Harrikari already directed Tampere University’s ECIU University project. The pilot ended in autumn 2022. With the start of its new term, ECIU University will enter a start-up phase with Harrikari as its Strategic Lead. In this role, she will support and guide the ECIU University to fulfil its long-term goals.
“The aim is to create something that the member universities would not be able to pursue on their own,” Harrikari says. “At the same time, we will bring new winds of change to the European higher education scene. The goals are ambitious, as they should be. After all, this is European Commission’s long-term flagship project,” she adds.
Harrikari emphasises that ECIU University is no longer just a project, but it is creating a true European community.
A wealth of opportunities in Europe and Tampere
As the world is rapidly changing, skills development must also be renewed. There is an increasing need for multidisciplinary research knowledge to tackle global problems. The role of universities as societal actors is becoming even more important.
ECIU University is the first EU-funded European University to openly and agilely connect organisations and talents to influence, ideate, and innovate solutions to the big issues of our time.
“ECIU University’s idea is challenge-based activities where learning, teaching, research, innovation and societal impact are linked to solving real-life challenges,” Harrikari says.
To universities’ degree-students, ECIU University offers new ways of developing skills, and for continuous learners, it offers new methods for capacity building. The consortium promises to support multidisciplinary research by finding reliable partners from both within and without the universities. One of ECIU University’s key goals is to bring together regional ecosystems at the European level.
“For actors in the Tampere region, this means easy access to 12 other regional ecosystems and to finding new partners. So far, the City of Tampere and the Council of Tampere Region have been involved in the ECIU University’s activities,” Harrikari mentions.
In her new role, Harrikari is aware that she has a very complex task in her hands. Much work needs to be done to reconcile 13 universities and cultures as well as the legislation and funding base of the different countries. The work involves constant interaction with many parties, listening, discussions, debating and making plans based on them.
“Strategy work ensures that the different activities within the ecosystem are moving towards the common goals. ECIU University is not an administrative project even though that perspective is also needed. The consortium is first and foremost about collaboration and the great things that can be achieved,” Harrikari points out.
“Even the most ambitious goals can be achieved through co-operation and the enthusiasm of a wide range of people to seize new opportunities. ECIU University is the joint effort of diverse learners, academic staff, and public and private stakeholders. I hope that we in Tampere will get enthusiastically involved in ECIU University’s activities,” Harrikari says.
- The European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) was allocated €14.4 million from the EU’s Erasmus Programme to further build the ECIU University for the four-year term starting in November 2022.
- The funding was allocated to the foundation-based ECIU Consortium and its network of 13 member universities that include Tampere University.
- The focus will be on flexible learning, micro-module credits, and challenge-based education and research.