On February 5th 2020 at Erasmus University Rotterdam the rectors of eight European Universities signed the mission statement of UNIC: The European University of Post-Industrial Cities. Together, the universities of Bilbao, Bochum, Cork, Istanbul, Liège, Oulu, Rotterdam and Zagreb have a clear mission to boost mobility and inclusion for impact in a superdiverse society.
Post-industrial cities throughout Europe face many of the same societal challenges due to transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy. Among which are (youth) (un)employment, the impact of new technologies, a transition to renewable energy sources and evolving health-related challenges.
An important characteristic of a post-industrial European city is superdiversity in socio-economic and socio-cultural terms. Superdiversity demands the development of more innovative, accessible and inclusive modes of research, teaching and learning which articulate and respond to the needs of diverse populations. Diverse knowledge and expertise, applied in similar (post-industrial) environment and audiences, will yield new approaches and best practices to help European higher education keep pace with a changing European population.
Campus, academy and labs
The UNIC proposal, led by Erasmus University Rotterdam and developed in close cooperation with students from the different universities, is a long-term alliance with three main facets.
- Inter-University Campus: enable students, staff and researchers/teachers, to move seamlessly to study, train, teach, do research, work or share services within UNIC, regardless off socio economic and cultural background.
- Superdiversity Academy: challenge universities to welcome students and staff of all backgrounds.
- CityLabs: meeting places for knowledge exchange in and with the cities.
UNIC accelerates positive societal impact on a larger scale
Rutger Engels, Rector Magnificus Erasmus University Rotterdam about the mission statement: “Erasmus University Rotterdam is unique in The Netherlands for its superdiverse student population with a relatively high percentage of non-traditional students. This student population reflects the rapid transformation of Rotterdam as a post-industrial city. The other universities in UNIC share these characteristics and the commitment to making mobility and our educational programmes more inclusive.”
“We aim to unlock a truly European learning experience for all our students and train the change leaders who will shape the future of some of Europe’s most superdiverse cities. UNIC addresses these challenges by developing new approaches and models for education, tools, offers and communications. This will accelerate our efforts toward inclusivity in post-industrial cities and serve as a blueprint to help European education keep pace in preparing for the future of Europe.”
The UNIC proposal will be submitted later this month to the European Commission’s European University Initiative, in support of the ambition towards a European Education Area.