UNIC (European University of Post-Industrial Cities)

The river Maas.

A European University of the future

UNIC is a European alliance of ten universities based in post-industrial cities with a mission to boost mobility and inclusion for societal impact. UNIC was formed as a response to the European Commission’s call to create bottom-up networks of universities throughout Europe that enable students to obtain degrees by combining studies in several EU countries. 

Erasmus University Rotterdam joins Koc University Istanbul, Ruhr University Bochum, University of Liege, University College Cork, University of Deusto, University of Oulu, Malmö University, University of Lodz, and University of Zagreb to form the UNIC alliance. UNIC is an alliance today but strives to be a model for the European Universities of tomorrow by embodying common values and visions of our shared European future. 


The UNIC University

Ten years from now, UNIC students and university staff will enjoy a truly European learning, teaching and working experience. UNIC takes inclusion to the next level by using the superdiverse settings of our post-industrial cities to unlock new European opportunities for all our students. UNIC will broaden educational opportunities for many non-traditional students, including members of new migrant communities and people living in socio-economically disadvantaged areas. Our students and staff will study, teach and work throughout Europe to learn from, and become change agents who will play a role in the transformation of our post-industrial urban regions of the future. By engaging students in real-world urban challenges with our city partners through initiatives such as CityLabs, we aim to bring ‘science to the city’ and contribute to the resilience and renaissance of Europe’s post-industrial urban centres. In so doing, we will foster a new generation of students with the knowledge, skills and societal consciousness to act as change-leaders, active citizens and builders of our common European future, shaping the European Education Area.

By 2023, UNIC will have created the following:

  • An Inter-University Campus, where UNIC students will participate in courses and research projects.
  • A Superdiversity Academy, where teaching and research expertise will be joined to develop and apply an innovative model of superdiversity teaching and learning.
  • CityLabs, where students, professors, and city partners jointly work on urban challenges.

A UNIC student journey

UNIC is not developing education, we are revolutionizing it. Students are truly at the heart of this European University. UNIC is being co-developed by students and university staff working hand in hand. Together we will build an institution that fosters student-centered learning and teaching, that creates societal impact in the local community and beyond and which enables international mobility for students regardless of their different backgrounds. 

By putting students at the heart of the university, UNIC will bridge the divisions between research and teaching which have bothered higher education institutions for many years. Rethinking research, teaching and learning holistically again and considering students not as passive consumers but as emerging scholars and active co-creators in all areas of the university and its surroundings, will allow UNIC universities to be in touch with the zeitgeist and actively engage with emerging global trends in knowledge creation and transmission and thus remain relevant in the fast-changing global information economy.

By working together at every level with the other universities and their local communities, students develop their intercultural knowledge and are empowered to create societal impact. Not just within their own university and their local community, but on a European level. UNIC embodies European Citizenship. When students start their academic career within UNIC, they will feel part of UNIC and European civil society from the very first day.

    UNIC University Staff

    The organization of the UNIC European University with its Inter-University Campus, Superdiversity Academy and CityLabs is the basis from which UNIC will progress towards the long-term vision described in our mission statement. The models of practice will enable our students and university staff, including teachers/researchers and administrators, to enjoy a truly European learning, teaching and working experience.

    This UNIC perspective on learning gives students and staff an active role in co-creating knowledge and forms an integral part of our Superdiversity Academy and CityLabs. It implies that knowledge and learning are not limited to just a classroom setting but can also take place in other formal or informal locations. This shifts the role of teachers and lecturers from providers of educational services to facilitators of student development. Therefore, UNIC research and education have a close affinity within the Superdiversity Academy and CityLabs. As UNIC students and university staff will be based within but not limited to our university campuses thanks to our outreaching and evidence-informed approach, a co-creation of knowledge will unfold.

    UNIC City Partners

    UNIC will build a new type of university, one that eradicates the strict borders between university and city. We will provide students a learning experience that is connected to and rooted in the actual challenges experienced in urban and regional settings. The UNIC city partners will foster a culture of innovation and creativity and will transform social and economic areas. UNIC CityLabs will contribute to societal impact of our universities on post-industrial cities and their regions by an outreaching, evidence-informed and innovative focus on co-creating research through community engaged research approaches. Engaged research includes approaches such as participatory action research (PAR), citizen science, impact-by-design and other methodologies that engage academics with societal partners in a reciprocal and transformative manner.

    Erasmus University Rotterdam leads UNIC

    As a truly superdiverse university in a truly post-industrial city, EUR strongly identifies with the other partner universities and foresees great strategic value in working together with these universities. The initiative to start to build the UNIC Alliance started 1,5 year ago in Rotterdam. 

    The mission and ambitions of the UNIC Alliance are completely in line with the EUR Strategy 2024. The EUR Strategy 2024 is based on the following principles:

    • Engagement with society
    • World citizenship
    • Connecting the university with society
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Open-mindedness

    To realize this strategy the following steps are defined which will be used at our own campus and at the UNIC campus to combine the EUR identity with the identity of our partners in order to make the most of our interdisciplinary potential:

    • Fostering our societal impact identity
    • Ensuring our education is future-oriented
    • Embedding excellent academic research in society
    • Taking responsibility on sustainable development
    • Investing in our people for the future
    • Stepping up our professional services.

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