Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences Becomes the European University with an Aim of Contributing to the Development of Small and Medium-sized Cities and their Regions throughout Europe
Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences (ViA) is one of the four higher education institutions in Latvia that has got involved in the Erasmus + programme initiative “European Universities”. These transnational alliances are part of the European Union's (EU) flagship initiative to create and expand the European Education Area. European Universities are the universities of the future, promoting European values and identity, and revolutionising the quality and competitiveness of European higher education.
ViA is involved in the project “Engaged and Entrepreneurial European University as Driver for European Smart and Sustainable Regions (E³UDRES) with partners from all the European regions - St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences (Austria), Polytechnic Institute of Setubal (Portugal), Polytechnical University of Timisoara (Romania), Szent Istvan University (Hungary), UC Leuven-Limburg (Belgium), as well as associate partners Latvian Information and Communications Technologies Association (LIKTA) and Valmiera Development Agency.
European University is the university of the future, testing and implementing different approaches to enable the acquisition of future study, research and business skills:
- Integrates challenge-based education approach in study process;
- Promotes mission-oriented research;
- Develops human-centred innovation;
- Provides open and engaged knowledge exchange;
- Builds a model international university with study and research sites across Europe.
Cooperation between partners includes the involvement of students and researchers, as well as the development of various innovation projects.
The overall aim of the initiative is to offer a regional solution with a European perspective for the development of small and medium-sized cities and their regions. The project envisages significantly strengthening the regional innovation system and contributing to the digital, environmental and sustainable transformation of the regions, thus moving towards the development of smart and sustainable regions. All the project partners are located in small or medium-sized cities with no more than 250,000 inhabitants. These are ambitious, flexible and small or medium-sized universities with no more than 15,000 students and are located in the smallest European countries. The project activities are aimed at ensuring the best possible quality of life for independent people in the regions.
Administrative Vice-Rector of Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences Iveta Putniņa explained that the involvement in this project would offer work in an international team to all ViA employees and students.
“Everyone can create their own portfolio by choosing the most suitable study topics, research topics and colleagues to cooperate. It is no longer limited by the opportunities offered by Valmiera and Latvia. The participants in the project have access to study courses, research expertise, cooperation partners in the regions and in their own country offered by other partners. This is the intended model of the future university, and its development and testing is currently given 3 years and funding of more than 5 million,” said Iveta Putniņa.
The expected results of the project are a model and governance concept of a European University, joint study courses and programmes, implemented mobility of students and teaching staff, joint research in the following areas: human well-being (including population aging), people and artificial intelligence, circular economy, joint knowledge transfer activities.
Among other things, the project envisages that 50% of graduates and staff will participate in on-site or online mobility.
Hannes Raffaseder, Member of the Board of St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences and Project Manager of the European University alliance, hopes to develop methods, formats and contents to further flexibility and digitalisation of the partner institutions involved and to rapidly accelerate the necessary transformation to future-oriented higher education institutions.
The project idea was evaluated according to the following criteria: relevance of the application, geographical coverage, quality of the application and the implementation plan, quality of the cooperation framework of the partners, sustainability of the project. The project has received a very high evaluation (87 points out of 100) and is one of 24 approved projects.
The project will run from 1st October 2020 to 30th September, 2023 with funding of EUR 6 241 667 (of which EUR 4 993 333 is the European Commission funding).
This funding programme envisages the creation of a total of 41 European University or university alliances, involving 280 higher education institutions from the EU Member States and other countries. The European Commission is supporting this process with funding of 287 million euros.