At the City Hall of Rotterdam, the Executive Board of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), together with Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and Alderman Said Kasmi, have officially launched EUR’s new outreach programme: "Connecting our Future". This programme is a crucial part of the impact strategy of EUR, particularly in its aims towards diversity and inclusion. In the coming period up to and including 2024, EUR will invest almost 3 million euros in this programme.
"We need all the talent so to be prepared for the demands of the 21st century."
"The economy will change radically in coming decades due to digitisation, urbanisation and climate issues. We need all the talent so to be prepared for the demands of the 21st century. Connecting the future of the city to the future of talented young people happens with the outreach programme of Erasmus University Rotterdam. It's a programme that helps smart, ambitious young people to find their way to an excellent education; as well as young people for whom the road is less obvious due to all kinds of circumstances. It is therefore of great value for society, our future and not least for young people themselves, that talent development is stimulated ”, according to Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.
'Bringing Rotterdam to the campus'
To provide equal opportunities for schoolchildren, the "Connecting Our Future" programme will contain a series of initiatives that will connect students, researchers, policymakers and students. EUR already collaborates with many different schools in Rotterdam via the Science Hub. Rector Magnificus Rutger Engels said: “The EUR is expanding the country's largest scientific hub to enable more targeted activities for students in Rotterdam; to increase the access and participation of schoolchildren and students from an underrepresented background and, thus, connect our future. This makes the EUR one of the few Dutch universities that invests heavily in these activities for students in the region.”
The ‘Connecting our Future’ programme will also provide support to students from underrepresented groups within our university. “We want to promote inclusion and preserve the wealth of new talent within the EUR,” Rutger Engels emphasises.
"This programme fits seamlessly with the main goal of our education policy: equal opportunities for every talent."
"Regardless of social or cultural background, young people deserve the best education to get the best out of themselves and to discover and develop their talents. In a large city like Rotterdam, this is not always evident. I very much welcome the EUR's commitment to this,” said Alderman Said Kasmi.
Greater equality within our community
Recent crises such as that of COVID-19 and the protests against institutional racism underline the long-standing call for individuals and institutions to take greater responsibility to ensure fair opportunities for all. “With an integrated approach, we want to strengthen our relationship with young people in our city and further expand the cooperation with institutions that also invest in promoting shared and inclusive knowledge creation. We want fairer opportunities for all within our community and in wider society because we really need these young people at EUR,” says EUR's Chief Diversity Officer, Semiha Denktaş.
What else are we going to do?
In developing ‘Connecting our Future’, we at EUR looked at best practices worldwide, working with officials from UCLA in Los Angeles to learn from their successful, 40-year-old, Academic Advancement Program. A key insight we took is to ensure that outreach programmes are an integral part of the institutional infrastructure, with specific activities for different underrepresented students. We also must place outreach programmes within a robust diversity and inclusion framework, and ensure it is well embedded to ensure sustainability. For 'Connecting our Future', we at EUR will utilise a knowledge-driven approach, with research being set up and conducted simultaneously into the effects and impact of the activities.
In addition, we are going to:
- Strengthen and expand our relationship with underrepresented primary and secondary school students in the Rotterdam region by offering specific activities for talented pupils who are typically discouraged from attending university.
- Expand and improve student-centered support during pre-enrollment, to retain pupils from underrepresented communities when they join EUR and improving student-centered support during their time at EUR.
- Enable EUR scientists, lecturers, and students to develop, implement and research new outreach activities themselves. They will be able also to create activities that promote "equal opportunities", based on curriculum-based content. Successful activities will be embedded in regular services that EUR offers within the ‘Connecting our Future’ programme.