Erasmus University Rotterdam leads new European alliance of universities in post-industrial cities (UNIC)
Together with seven other universities (from Bilbao, Bochum, Cork, Istanbul, Liege, Oulu and Zagreb), Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is founding a European University of Post-Industrial Cities (UNIC). The alliance has received a contribution from the European Union of 5 million Euros for a 3-year period. The universities also bring in another 1,25 million Euros.
More inclusion in European higher education
The universities in UNIC feel connected by their common background. The universities all have a strong orientation on impact on the often very dynamic post-industrial cities in which they are situated. Also, they all have relatively many so-called ‘non-traditional students’ and staff, such as students who are the first from generations to go to university, amongst whom students with a migration background.
Together the universities can make a unique contribution to better and more inclusive higher education in Europe. Also based on existing research collaborations, a Superdiversity Academy will be developed to strengthen the exchange of knowledge and experience on inclusive education.
“With the start of UNIC we can offer our students a truly European learning experience. By blended interactive models of teaching, UNIC can make a key contribution to making our universities more inclusive”
New forms of collaboration and mobility
One of the goals of UNIC is to stimulate the mobility of students and staff between the universities. This does not only involve student exchanges and new joint programs, but also a virtual UNIC campus in which interactive technologies are used for hybrid forms of collaboration between already existing programs.
Impact on post-industrial urban transitions
Finally, the universities do not only enter a collaboration amongst each other, but also with the 8 cities in which they are situated. With research and teaching, UNIC will make a contribution to the often complex transitions that post-industrial cities are going through. Amongst others, a network of CityLabs will be developed, with students, researchers and the cities collaborating on themes such as economics, health, mobility and diversity.
“Over the past months we have all developed a lot of experience with how to collaborate remotely while using interactive technologies; our proposal was well prepared for this new reality, we want students to have a unique European study experience”
Together with students
UNIC has been developed together with students from the various universities. The students are a key source of inspiration for the various activities of UNIC. For EUR, Imane Wijsman and Teun van den Akker contributed to the development of UNIC. “UNIC gives us the opportunity to collaborate with students from all over Europe and to learn from each other. This helps us as UNIC students to be ready for the often very complex societal transformations ahead of us, such as inclusion”, according to Imane and Teun.
UNIC will start in October this year, and where possible will be implemented in existing study programs from the academic year 2021-2022.