The European Consortium of Innovative Universities, ECIU, was founded in 1997 and is the leading international consortium of research-intensive universities, with collective emphasis on innovation, creativity, and societal impact, driving the development of a knowledge-based economy. The mission is to ‘challenging conventional thinking’ with a focus on ‘innovation in teaching and learning'and ‘entrepreneurship and societal impact of research’.
‘It is a consortium of young universities that share their core values. Innovation and entrepreneurship are in the DNA of our members. We all come from regions where the economy came under pressure following the decline of traditional sectors such as textile and shipping. The universities are the result of a regional need to have highly educated people for the economy of the future and to develop new industries. That is why all partners have very close ties to their region and the industry, while also having an international mindset.’
What does the consortium do?
‘We know each other very well. We learn from each other about governance, the structure of our education and entrepreneurship. We all value mobility and internationalisation and we encourage our employees and students to seek out collaboration. We do that by offering shared minors, joint masters, and travel grants for researchers. Project- and problem-based learning are at the core of the ECIU universities’ education. Students combine theoretical and practical aspects so they are optimally prepared for the world of tomorrow.’
Why is this collaboration so important?
‘We speak with a single voice and protect our interests together, for example in our dealings with the European Union. Universities are hardly heard as a single institution. Instead, they have a voice with impact as a member of a group of likeminded universities. The advantage for policy makers is that they speak to a group of universities across Europe with a long track record in regional innovation, entrepreneurship and innovative teaching. This lobby allows us to put important themes on the agenda and promote our expertise.’
What does the future hold for the ECIU?
‘The world around us is changing rapidly and we face new questions from society and industries. We want to create significant impact on society. That is why we embrace our role as life-long educators. With interdisciplinary research, open innovation and international education we link our universities to society. In ECIU our shared background and values are crucial for our collaboration. We will continue our efforts to make a difference at regional, national and international level.’
With the members we share commitment to the development of high-quality educational practices which promote innovation and the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning. All partners value a strong nexus between research and teaching in order to fulfil such a vision and strive to provide a modern, engaging and research-intensive learning environment, which builds on the diversity and collective strength of our respective institutional cultures, our approaches to teaching, and our students. Like UT, the ECIU has a specific interest in seeking out creative, learning-centred and future-focused teaching approaches that foster social entrepreneurship and smart use of technology.