Post-industrial cities throughout Europe face many of the same societal challenges due to transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy. Among these are youth unemployment, the impact of new technologies, a transition to renewable energy sources and evolving health-related challenges.
“We at the University of Oulu highly value the invitation to join the UNIC mission led by the Erasmus University Rotterdam. We see this collaboration as a great opportunity for us and for higher education in Finland and Europe at large. The mission and planned actions match very well with the strengths, mission and strategy of our University,” says Rector Jouko Niinimäki, University of Oulu.
“The University of Oulu is known for its societal impact, bringing top science and different actors of society close together. Also the way the Oulu region recovered from structural changes, thanks to high expertise and education level, has been widely recognised. In collaboration with the other consortium members, we aim to grow as forerunners among European universities with a high societal impact.”
Knowledge diversifies together with population
An important characteristic of a post-industrial European city is superdiversity in socio-economic and socio-cultural terms. Superdiversity demands the development of more innovative, accessible and inclusive modes of research, teaching and learning which articulate and respond to the needs of diverse populations.
Diverse knowledge and expertise yield new approaches and best practices to help European higher education keep pace with a changing European population.
“We believe UNIC to be a great European learning opportunity in setting student-centered learning in focus and further internationalising the student experience with virtual and physical mobility. UNIC’s goal to enhance the challenge-based learning approach in order to integrate a university-wide ambition of societal impact in our teaching has a great potential to create something unique," states Vice-Rector for Education Helka-Liisa Hentilä who has been active in the process.
Aiming at societal impact
The UNIC proposal has been developed in close cooperation with students from the different universities.
“Students have interacted in different channels from the beginning,” says Jonna Hyttinen from the Student Union of the University of Oulu.
“In the future, students will get even more equal possibilities for mobility and good acquirements for changing work life.”
UNIC is a long-term alliance with three main facets.
- Inter-University Campus: enables students, staff and researchers/teachers to move seamlessly to study, train, teach, do research, work or share services within UNIC, regardless of socio economic and cultural background.
- Superdiversity Academy: challenges universities to welcome students and staff of all backgrounds.
- CityLabs: meeting places for knowledge exchange in and with the cities.
The UNIC proposal will be submitted later this month to the European Commission’s European University Initiative, in support of the ambition towards a European Education Area.
Universities of UNIC:
Bilbao, University of Deusto, Spain
Bochum, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany
Cork, University College Cork, Ireland
Istanbul, Koç University, Turkey
Liège, University of Liège, Belgium
Oulu, University of Oulu, Finland
Rotterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Zagreb, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Photo: Arie Kers
Last updated: 6.2.2020