‘’If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”, this proverb was cited recently in a meeting by an ECIU Board member. This is what ECIU is all about since its foundation 25 years ago. We are not only going far, together; we are also innovating and leap-frogging in a fast-changing environment. Even though with different speeds and national systems, we share a common profile and values, we complement each other and work together to reach common goals.
A year before the official opening of ECIU in Dortmund in 1997, representatives from Aalborg, Dortmund, Hamburg-Harburg, Warwick, Twente and Barcelona attended a two-day meeting in Twente at the end of which the ECIU network was practically founded to find new solutions to new challenges in higher education. This objective is still there, but the needs and demands on European Higher Education Institutions are higher and more complex than 25 years ago. Therefore, the proverb above is even more relevant. Today, ECIU tackles societal challenges with its biggest endeavour so far, the ECIU University. By building this European University, ECIU is not replacing our existing universities; rather we are building something next to them, a testing ground for novel education, research, and innovation outside national boundaries for the benefit of society.
For three years supported by several EU grants, we have developed together flexibilized learning pathways with a focus on solving societal challenges and quality-assured micro-credentials. With short learning opportunities provided by our universities across Europe, we correspond to the developments in the labour market and the growing need for continuous learning. We apply a challenge-based way of working as an opportunity to increase the impact of education and research to tackle today’s problems and forge new paths through innovation. So far, hundreds of students and staff members in our universities and regions have been engaged in ECIU University. Evidence that “together” in ECIU means interacting with learners, researchers, citizens, societal and industry stakeholders. It is not easy to go far. While we are challenging conventional thinking and exploring novel ways of working, we ourselves are part of processes of learning and change; we are challenged to make a change, and challenges can also trigger change.
This magazine shows samples of how, together, we are building ECIU University. How will universities in Europe look 25 years from now? We don’t know. Ultimately, it is all about people and society. Our solid foundation, perseverance, team spirit, and constantly growing mutual trust and respect will help us to realize our goals with ECIU University and stay hitched for the long haul towards the next 25 years and beyond.
Enjoy reading, stay connected and let’s go fast and far, together.
Secretary General of ECIU