ECIU University was created by the  European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) and aims to offer an innovative university educational model reaching across borders and based on the involvement of businesses and institutions.

The objective is to establish a new concept of international university, going beyond what is Erasmus mobility programmes and international relations, with new academic, research and transfer methods which are more flexible, international and based on the resolution of real-life problems. 

Latest news 

EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel:

‘ECIU University is testbed for future’

The ECIU Presidium had a meeting with Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, on the future of higher education in Europe, Friday June 5th.

The participants discussed the role of the European Universities initiative in the future of European higher education and the urgent need for innovation to counter the economic impact in post COVID-19 period.

‍The consortium shared their vision about the future of European Universities. Discussion topics included the challenge-based learning, blended mobility, micro-credentials and lifelong learning: the opportunities that the ECIU University is now is piloting.

‍Gabriel was very positive about the ECIU University’s front runner role, especially in micro-credentialing process and asked the ECIU to stay actively involved in discussions around European Research Area, European higher education area and Europe’s digital agendas. 

The education and research innovations now being implemented at the ECIU University can act as a testbed and pave the way for further development in all European higher education erea, as well as become a catalyst for social innovations in Europe. She encouraged the ECIU University to stay in a close dialogue with the European Commission on the future of universities in Europe.

‍The ECIU university has a very ambitious and deep vision to remodel the European higher education and to establish a true European University where learners, researchers, business, public organizations and citizens create relevant innovative solutions for real life challenges with real societal impact.

Around the table: 

The President of European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU), Victor Van Der Chijs, the Vice-President, Per Michael Johansen, Treasurer, Màrius Martínez and ECIU University Project Director Sander Lotze participated in the meeting with the EU Commissioner.

‘Visual identity gives colour to ECIU University’

In order to build a cohesive brand, an accurate, strong, value-based visual identity for the ECIU University was created. Here is a look on the new identity and its creative process.

The new ECIU University visual brand identity is based on core values of innovation, connection, rationality and timelessness. The task to create new visual identity for the ECIU University was taken up by Critical, a Lithuanian strategic design agency, and Kaunas University of Technology which was working alongside communications and marketing teams in other ECIU University partner institutions.

‘A visual identity helps people to notice, recognise and interpret a brand faster’, says Jonas Liugaila, Design Strategist at Critical. ‘This is very true at a time of change in the ECIU when the university is becoming the core activity of the alliance. The uniqueness, unconventionality and courage must be revealed from the very first impression, which undoubtedly influences further acquaintance with the content.’

‘To set up a long-lasting new organisation needs a recognised brand, look and feel; it has to be robust and accepted by all. It marks the beginning of the new endeavour. The new visual identity will give colour to the ECIU University activities,’ says Sander Lotze, Project Director at the ECIU University.

Blue and yellow

The ECIU University logotype is in dark blue and yellow. Yellow stands for the energy and entrepreneurial spirit while dark blue adds balance and sophistication, giving the impression of timelessness. Contrasting shape, colours and typography designs a rational logotype while also communicating a determination to grow, cooperation and innovation.

The same diagonal shape is used in the visual identity in order to maintain brand recognition while further emphasising growth and connection. A simple structure allows this graphic element to be used in many ways and adapt to situations for the brand to be dynamic.


Benjaminas Alimas, designer at the agency Critical, one of the authors of the ECIU University visual identity: ‘The main and the most memorable feature is the rising symbol, which semantically contributes the most to the brand recognition. It is a symbol that can be interpreted differently in the visual identity structure that helps to create a dynamic brand image. The contrasting and bold colour gamut helps to recognise the ECIU University brand as innovative and expressive.’

Lotze adds that the new identity has a clear connection to the previous visuality of the ECIU, so people who know the old logo can still relate to it. ‘But at the same time, it is a very clear new brand. And even more important is that the visual identity sends out a fresh, modern message. It embodies our core values of who we are and how we want to present ourselves. Moreover, it shows that we want to build something new; it gives space to use it next to the own local university brand and, last but not least, it is appealing to different target groups’, he says.

Challenge-based learning in practice


 How does challenge-based learning works in practice? The InGenious event, last Friday at DesignLab, gives the answer. Three UT students presented their ideas how to redesign a bus from HAVI Travel BV that was rented out to by FC Twente for their away football games.

The team that worked on the challenge was Bas Voogt (22, BSc Industrial Design), Laurens van Breda (22, BSc Applied Physics) and Trang Nguyen (IBA, Saxion). Their solution incorporated a hydrogen fuel cell as a battery for the bus. They  also added  screens on the exterior for flexible advertising. On top of the bus, solar panels made the verhicle a very sustainable initiative. ‘This project was my territory’, says Bas Voogt. ‘It was interesting to see my project mates struggle, but it was also very interesting to see how everyone had different takes on approaching a problem.’

 Interactive tables

The interior of the bus has interactive tables where the match could be discussed straight after the game and it has two bicycles so that players could exercise on long journeys. Laurens van Breda: ‘The hardest thing was the amount of freedom that we had at the start. That left us paralysed looking for what to do. But we soon learned that freedom also means responsibility and you need to make rules yourself to keep everything structured. After that, it was quite fun.’

Rik Platvoet, Ex Professional Football Player of FC Twente, on behalf of the bus company: ‘I really like the idea of the table. Feedback straight after a match is proven far more effective than two days later. Mostly also since we’re on the bus forty minutes after the game has ended, the game is still fresh in our minds.’ Voogt: ‘We just had a call with FC Twente the other day and they were really enthusiastic about our idea, so we’re excited to see where this leads.’

Real-life challenges

It is the second year that Raymond Loohuis (BMS and HTHT Module Coordinator) together with Wilbert Pontenagel (Program Manager at Novel-T) are bringing InGenious challenges to the UT. These are real-life social technical challenges that are brought forward by companies that promote challenge based learning for universities that are part of ECIU.

Out of the 50 students that were part the minor New Technology and Business Development, 15 students were selected based on their motivation letters to participate with three InGenious projects stretching over a period of three months. As HTHT minors consist of students from multiple disciplines, so did the three InGenious project teams.

The Challenge Based Learning (CBL) approach is very different to traditional educational models. Students learn by doing whilst experimenting with ideas and solutions in a collaborative manner, sometimes together with stakeholders and challenge providers. In this sense, CBL is a new way of learning where the outcome is just as important as the learning process.

'An excellent oportunity to futher build its international reach'

A crowd of internal and external stakeholders of Tampere University came together at Café Toivo in the city centre campus to celebrate the launch of ECIU University on 5 February. Sander Lotze, project director and UT-employee, gave a talk about the development of higher education.

‘Universities must keep up with the times and prepare students for the changing world of work’, said Sander Lotze. ‘It is important that students are able to flexibly pick and choose courses and develop the skills they will need in the future job market and our changing world.’  Continues: ‘We at the ECIU University believe that students build lifelong connections with their university. The ties remain strong and continue to evolve as alumni go through different stages of life.’

Director, Continuous Learning Heli Harrikari, who heads the ECIU project at Tampere University, echoes similar sentiments. ‘The future of higher education is not ours to shape alone. The development of higher education is an undertaking that goes beyond the walls of academia. The ECIU University is not a project that has a beginning and an end; it is here to stay.’

Key of this university is its cocreation with society. Among those present were the project partners, namely the Council of Tampere Region, the City of Tampere and Ponsse Ltd. A speech was also given by a representative of the National Union of University Students in Finland.

Anna-Kaisa Heinämäki, the City of Tampere’s deputy mayor for growth, innovation and competitiveness, highlighted the ECIU’s University’s important role at the city level.  ‘In the past six months I have come across the ECIU University in my work almost on a weekly basis. The ECIU concept offers the city an excellent opportunity to further build its international reach’, she said.  Photo Jonne Renvall  Text Minna Puntila

Workshop Challenge-Based Learning

Challenge-Based Learning is ‘hot’ in university education across the globe. On January 8, the University of Twente hosted a CBL meeting for an unexpectedly large and diverse group of participants in DesignLab.

Challenge-Based Learning (CBL) potentially has two key benefits. First, because of the use of authentic and motivating challenges, students may benefit from increased motivation; also, CBL is based on Student-Centred Learning. And, second, societal stakeholders can play an active role in shaping challenges.

Last week, fifty participants attended the lunchtime presentation by Charlotte Norrman from Linköping University of Sweden and Cia Lundvall from InGenious East Sweden. In their presentation, Charlotte and Cia discussed the role of the InGenious organisation as a go-between for companies, students and teachers of Linköping University. Also, presenters provided insights into the CBL course provided.

After this presentation, two more introductions were delivered to thirty participants. One was from Raymond Loohuis of the University of Twente on his experiences with CBL, in two different educational units. In the other, Hans van den Berg, also UT, presented an overview of the CBL literature, to which additional topics – teacher development, Transdisciplinarity – were added.

Next, Hans invited the participants to engage in a CBL-like workshop in small teams to discuss and score a survey containing various design considerations for CBL.

Overall, participants were very engaged during this meeting. Video coverage will be available. The survey outcomes look promising.

Challenge-based ECIU University is born

Yesterday saw the launch of ECIU University, the first European university where learners and researchers cooperate with cities, regions and businesses to solve real-life challenges.

The official kick-off was hosted by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, ECIU’s Spanish member. Using its facilities at the Bellaterra campus and the UAB Casa Convalescència in Barcelona, the ECIU University Board met for the first time. Typical new for this university is the participation of representatives of the industry and government in the Board. Onno van Veldhuizen, mayor of Enschede, will be one of them.

The objective of the new international university is to establish a new concept of international university, going beyond regular European collaboration. Education will be based on solving challenges, embedded international mobility and collaborations among universities. Learners will get micro-credentials for short, very specialised training courses, and a competence “passport” which will provide an individualised account of what each student has learned and the skills acquired.

With regard to research and knowledge transfer, a series of living labs will be created in both physical and online spaces where university researchers will work directly with businesses and institutions in the definition and monitoring of projects. Moreover, three Challenge Innovation Hubs will be set up in northern, central and southern Europe. They will be coordinated each by Linköping University (Sweden), Hamburg University of Technology (Germany) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain).

In this pilot phase the ECIU University focuses on challenges related to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. 

ECIU University received full funding of €5 million from the European Union

About ECIU University 

The world is changing and universities should be changing with it. That is the basic idea behind the ECIU's ambitious project, the 'ECIU University'. It’s a joint university involving all ECIU members and offering a completely new type of education.

Not a 'one size fits all university'

The ECIU University’s type of education is open to everyone, including lifelong learners, and that is not focused on getting a diploma, but on solving real life challenges. 'I dream of a "NETFLIX" styled university, where you pay a fee and choose from all the courses available,' says Sander Lotze, Manager of International Affairs at the University of Twente and the 'ECIU University' project leader.

Where and why did the idea for the ECIU University originate?

Lotze: 'It originated in a board meeting held about a year ago in Kaunas. We were discussing the added value of enhanced collaboration and the future of education. We can see that there is an increased need for flexibility among students and an increased need for lifelong learning. Moreover, industry is asking for different skill sets than universities are currently delivering in their graduates. Society in general is dealing with larger and larger challenges. The generation of now is worrying about the problems of tomorrow. All in all, the world is changing. We asked ourselves: How can we react to it? And the typical ECIU answer is based on innovation and a close collaboration with regions and industry. We organized workshops with our stakeholders at every member university. Together we co-created the idea for the future of education and ended up with the plan for a challenge based ECIU University.'

What is a 'challenge-based' university?

'It is focused on getting solutions to big societal challenges. We are talking about challenge based learning, research and innovation. We'd like to create an arena where people can set up challenges, a sort of a database where anyone - students, members of industry, government or citizens - can sign up and form teams. These teams would therefore include a diverse group of people with different expertise and background, all working on one challenge. Because of this diversity, the participants would naturally have different learning needs. Our goal is to deliver modular education. We don't want a "one size fits all" university, but an educational system based on building blocks that you put together yourself.' 

Should this new type of education replace the current universities?

'The vision is not to replace the traditional universities. This should be an "add on" that can move to spaces which traditional universities have troubles accessing. Such as lifelong learning, which is something that we still struggle to accommodate. We want to provide an environment where you go to help the world or a company to solve a real problem. That is a very different starting point from what we offer now. Now you know how your degree will look like. There is little freedom; in the ECIU  are creating flexible learning pathways, learning that is mission driven. We also believe that this type of education could keep people bound to their home universities.'

When do you think this could become a reality?

'This is still a pilot phase. However, we are working on a challenge based Master programme that could start in the next three years. Within this programme, you would still get a degree but not in a specific field. It would allow you to move freely from one ECIU university to another during your studies. In the long run, we would also love to have one European challenge based Master programme in a certain UN Sustainable Development Goal. If it comes to lifelong learners, the idea is to provide them with a competence passport, which - just like a regular passport - needs to be renewed after a certain amount of time. We believe this could already start in the next year. For the more distant future, you pick and choose you challenge. I dream of a university, where you are a life-long member of an educational environment, you contribute to solving relevant challenges and gain knowledge, skills and competences rather than a degree.'

Challenged-based learning explained 

The concept of challenge-based learning explained

Learners all around Europe are asking to obtain relevant and state-of-the-art knowledge and skills in order to solve global challenges. Learners, researchers, industry and society can pose challenges on the ECIU University platform where challenges are listed according to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.

The challenges will be worked out by teams in which learners and employees from industry and society will work together, supported by training teams of teamchers.

During the project, the team members notice that they lack certain skills to continue the project. Therefore, they take micro-credentials which are offered by all 13 ECIU universities. They can range from online courses to study packages at a university to summer schools to research projects.

After the successful completion, all learning will be documented in a European competence passport. Micro-credentials, as well as all skills obtained through the project are listed in the passport and can be renewed and complemented at any time. Every challenge ends with a specific outcome, which can be spin-offs, new research questions, new challenges and most importantly a better and more sustainable world.