AIT – LIT Consortium to Form a European University with International Partners

The AIT and LIT Consortium has been successful in its application to join a new, forward-thinking education alliance intended to increase collaboration between Europe’s universities.

The European Universities Network is part of an EU-wide ambition to create a centralised European Education Area and will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in multiple EU countries.

AIT – LIT Consortium to Form a European University with International Partners
Professor Vincent Cunnane, President of Limerick Institute of Technology.
Picture Sean Curtin True Media.

The network, which is expected to increase the competitiveness of European universities, will be integral to promoting the kinds of future and advanced skills necessary for social transformation across the European Union.

Under the new European Universities initiative, AIT and LIT will join its RUN-EU (Regional University Network – European Union) partners in creating one of several new European universities capable of transcending languages, borders, and disciplines. This ambitious project is expected to be completed by 2024.

An important step forward in AIT and LIT’s internationalisation strategy, membership of the European Universities initiative aligns closely with the consortium’s aims to develop a technological university (TU) which reflects the educational demands and economic needs of Ireland’s Midlands and Mid-West.

The goal of the new TU is to provide new opportunities and access pathways to learners with the view to sustaining prosperity and industrial growth across Ireland. This will be achieved through practical, experiential learning, strong industry engagement and applied, high-TRL research, and a global mindset.

“Membership of the European Universities initiative will aid us in achieving our technological university mission by enabling us to leverage international best practice, increase student and staff mobility while facilitating joint degree and research programmes,” explained Prof Ciarán Ó Catháin, president of AIT.

“Internationalisation has always been at the heart of our educational approach, as it provides opportunities for growth and learning and gives our student body a well-rounded, holistic educational experience. We are looking forward to continuing to collaborate with like-minded higher education institutes across Europe, who see, as we do, the value in sharing knowledge for the benefit of all.”

This was a sentiment echoed by the President of LIT, Prof Vincent Cunnane, who added: “I am very pleased with the success of RUN-EU in being selected as a European university in what was a highly competitive call. With institutions right across the EU bidding for selection, the success of RUN-EU represents a new direction for higher education in Europe.

“Indeed, the selection of RUN-EU is not just a recognition of the standing of technological higher education, but also a recognition of role of regions in the EU’s future. As we move towards TU status, this is a clear endorsement of our approach.”

Welcoming the news on Friday last, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris remarked on “the greater internationalisation of our higher education system” and the “huge benefit” to both society and the economy.

“The success of our HEIs in this call further underlines Ireland’s commitment to the future of the EU and demonstrates that our higher education system is part of and working with the best in Europe.

“It bodes very well for the future experience of our students, academics, and researchers, as [it will provide] many more opportunities to experience international education and other cultures and to build alliances and partnerships as well as friendships for the longer term,” he said.

AIT and LIT announced their intention to form Ireland’s next technological university in October 2019 and subsequently joined the Regional University Network (RUN-EU) – a precursor to their application under the European Universities initiative.

The RUN-EU network consists of Polytechnic of Leiria (Portugal), Polytechnic of Cávado and Ave (Portugal), Limerick Institute of Technology (Ireland), Athlone Institute of Technology (Ireland), Széchenyi István University (SZE) (Hungary), Häme University of Applied Sciences HAMK (Finland), NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands), and FH Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences (Austria).

About the Regional University Network – European University (RUN-EU)

The eight RUN-EU institutions share a common vision and a commitment to societal transformation in their regions in the context of both new and emerging regional and global challenges and, sustainable regional development.

The alliance members have a regional as opposed to a city focus and also have a proven track record in the delivery of future and advanced skills activities in teaching, learning, research and engagement relevant to societal challenges including future industry, sustainable development, environment and climate change, ageing population and social inclusion.

The Regional University Network – European University (RUN-EU) will secure the sustainable economic, social, cultural, and environmental progress of its regions and stakeholders. RUN-EU will implement this mission by delivering on the future and advanced skills necessary for its students and stakeholders to successfully meet the challenges of the future, engage in societal transformation and promote active citizenship.

The mission of RUN-EU will be achieved through the development of:

  • Interuniversity future and advanced skills academies, which will promote and develop joint student-centred, challenge and work-based flexible learning activities, including short advanced programmes and European degrees, through collaborative and pedagogically innovative inter-university and interregional approaches to higher education.
  • Interregional European Innovation Hubs, fostering joint RD&I activities, including at master’s and PhD level, with industry and regional stakeholders focused on three areas: future industry and sustainable regional development, the bio-economy and social innovation.
  • A European Mobility Innovation Centre, which will build and share expertise in innovative physical and virtual mobility initiatives and assess the quality of new mobility activities.

Over the course of the three-year work plan, RUN-EU will not only deliver on the key joint structures and programmes described previously, but it will also drive significant integration and exchange between the student and staff bodies across the alliance, through the:

  • Co-design and co-deliver more than 80 short advanced programmes to classes of international students, providing 1,400+ student mobility opportunities (including online mobility).
  • Co-creation of 24 double degrees, 12 of which will be running by the end of year three and which will provide at least 130 additional student mobility opportunities.
  • Co-development and co-delivery of at least 3 joint degree programme at bachelor’s master’s and PhD level.
  • The provision of 500+ academic staff exchanges as part of the academic programme and pedagogical development processes.
  • Acquisition of funding for 15 joint international RDI projects through the RUN-EU Discovery Programme.
  • The provision of more than 150 mobility activities for researchers through the RUN-EU international research internship programme.

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