EUI-Net roots

 

Six years ago, in November 1998 University Transylvania Brasov hosted an International Conference under the main title “Universities in their social and economical environment” . 40 lectures and rapports were presented during the two days of the meeting grouped on 4 workshops. The participants were representatives of universities, of industrial enterprises, of social organizations from Romania and other European countries.

Two years before the Brasov Conference ,in October ’96, another university town in Romania- Craiova hosted a Conference in the same thematic frame, entitled “The University/ Industry cooperation - a double-way relation” .

In October 2000, another Conference, this time dedicated to Continuing and Open Distance Learning but also involving the connection between academic and nonacademic institutions was held in Sibiu .

All these meetings were organized under the auspices of TEMPUS Programme

Why this special interest in the TEMPUS of Romania for the co-operation between universities & non-university institutions/organizations?

The answer stands on a reality with which Romanian universities, but to some extent all the European universities are confronted in our days –namely, with the fact that the universities should overpass their traditional assumptions and enhance a new strategic approach to their local & regional environment.

Few European universities have changed fundamentally their management in response to this new strategic approach. These are the so-called entrepreneurial universities, like Warwik in England , Twente from Netherlands or and few others, whose main mission is to respond to the training and consultancy demands of the enterprises and organizations.

For all the other universities the accomplishment of this new strategic development require an increased capacity to interact with the economic & social environment .This involve a permanent communications with the customers that will allow the universities to find the needs of the people for training and professional re-conversion, but also the demands of the enterprises for Scientific and Technological Transfer. In order to respond adequately to all these needs and demands ,universities should create new structures for the management of the co - operation with the surrounding institutions and to adapt the existing ones. An efficient structure proved to be in TEMPUS the Centers for Continuing Education which involved specialized staff of the universities who was trained itself for pursuing this new mission.

It is well- known that the universities that contribute more and better to the local and regional environment are more visible and consequently, they attract more incomes and grow more rapidly.

For the “universities in transition” like were all the H.E. institutions from the ex-communist countries of Central-Eastern Europe ,the close connection with the economic and social sectors was well understood ,as an essential prerequisite for the self- development. The problem in the Transition from communism to capitalism is that the both parts, universities and non-university sectors are both poor, both confuse , vacillating in finding the proper way to the Reform.

This is why, we were really happy, when after 6 years of running TEMPUS projects concentrated on curriculum compatibility and university management, a new strategic phase of the Program was launched under the name of “Institution building”.

In brief, the concept of Institution Building (I.B.) sustains the close involvement of the academic institutions in the reform process of the non-academic partners in a local or regional environment. The involvement is sustained mainly by courses of training performed in the system of electronic learning that are offered to target groups , usually represented by employees of enterprises and members of organizations from the region.

The I.B. strategy also involves other forms of collaboration, as the Centers of Technological Transfer University/Industry or the Centers for Students’ Career Guidance.

The I.B. has a strong European Dimension as the “acquis communautaire “ that include European legislation, settlements and procedures in all the social and economic domains are usually included in the courses offered by the universities.

The I.B. also involves a different approach to the curricula offered to the target groups. Contrary to the traditional way in which the university solely decides which courses and applications will be delivered, in the I.B. strategy the courses are identified by the universities through “needs analysis”, in a dialog with the beneficiaries.

In Romania more than 60 Centers of Continuing Education were created in most of the 50 public universities through TEMPUS I.B. projects. The training offered by the Centers covered a large scale of professional specialties. To mention only few of those that have connection with the present EUI Net project I will quote the Centers for Quality Evaluation of the Industrial Products, Centers for Business Management of SMEs, the Centers of Computer-Assisted Engineering etc.

The experience of the members of the TEMPUS Association in dealing with the non-academic environment represents a large reservoir of initiatives that might contribute to a very successful running of the EUI Net project.

The large partnership of the EUI Net, that include representatives of 29 European countries ,under the coordination of one of the most active Romanian university in the cooperation with industry that is University “Transylvania “of Brasov, represents a solid foundation for the achievement of the project expected outcomes.

In a such thematically transversal type of Network, each project partner comes with his/her own experience and brings also his/her country practice and tradition in this complex kind of co-operation between universities and industry . The Thematic Network projects, in general, offer the best opportunity to gather ideas and practices, to raise solutions and to develop initiatives that might contribute consistently to the Progress of Higher Education in Europe .

The EUI Net project might have a special contribution to the Bologna Process, taking into account that the differentiation of the qualification levels is a major aspect in the Bologna Process, and this differentiation can be sustained only through a close co-operation between universities and the industry, as well as with other economic and social units.

Though the closer co-operation between universities and enterprises is widely recognized as one of the most effective factor for the development of the economy and society at large, usually the co-operation actions are initiated by the universities, which in the best academic spirit are the first who hold the hand. In fact the benefits for both parts are equally distributed.

The most important benefits for universities from the close co-operation with industry are the following:

As regards the industry their main benefits from the co-operation with universities are the followings:

 

17 February 2005

Prof.dr. Dan Grigorescu