Universities of the Future was selected among a few Knowledge Alliances supported by the Erasmus+ of the European Commission. This one-million project, coordinated by the Porto Design Factory (P. Porto) is a
true community of practice that will address the existing gap at higher education offer to respond to the challenges of the digital transformation (Industry 4.0) by developing new, innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning, stimulating entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills of higher education teaching staff and company staff and facilitate the exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge.
The project chart of commitments includes the co-development (together with key players of the quadruple helix) of:
– A common body of knowledge on industry 4.0 readiness/maturation of regions/business and related impact on skills shifting, up/re-skilling (a blueprint for cooperation with and for HEIs, businesses and governments)
– Innovative lessons on core topics/main components of the Industry 4.0, targeting students enrolled in HE bachelors/master degrees
– Continuous training programmes/short-courses on core topics/main components of the Industry 4.0, targeting employees that are interested in re/upskilling their competences
– A joint post-graduation course built-on creative strategies applied to industry 4.0, targeting workers interested in putting into practice pilot projects to accelerate their company’s digital transformation
– Guiding and supporting resources targeted to HEIs, business and government decision-making bodies and to educators/trainers
– A robust virtual teaching and learning factory for industry 4.0 populated with tools and resources enabling direct contact of the target-groups with the main components of industry and education 4.0, and complemented by physical facilities/equipment, aimed at supporting the development of the hands-on-experiment and pilot projects.
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Fresh starting the new year, Universities of the Future consortium met at Porto Design Factory for launching this challenging Knowledge Alliance.
The meeting, held in Portugal on 17, 18 and 19 of January 2018, gathered the 13 partners’ organisations – P.Porto/Porto Design Factory (Portugal), Aalto University (Finland), Warsaw University of Technology (Poland), IKEA Industry (Portugal), Consair (Finland), Willson & Brown (Poland), ANI (Portugal), TEK (Finland), Polish Accreditation Committee (Poland), Platoniq (Spain), Junta – Digital (Portugal), INOVA+ (Portugal) and Aalto University student union (Finland), representing BEST – Board of European Students of Technology.
The discussion was built around the kick-off of the project and definition of next steps, as well as a debate regarding the work packages and outputs expected, in line with the proposal and according to the partners’ views. Some deadlines and results were defined and analysed, aiming to increase the quality of the outcomes produced and enhancing the probability of success.
At the end of the three days’ meeting, UoF also participated in the public debate on the report about the New Industrial Policy for Europe, moderated by Gonçalo Lobo Xavier, from the European Economic and Social Committee.
UoF will generate a paradigmatic change in the way universities, businesses and governments will cooperate in the upcoming framework of Industry 4.0, promoting closer, strongest, meaningful and reciprocally valuable links between and within the helix stakeholders built-on an innovative approach to the Universities of the Future.
These universities will move away from traditional high education degrees as the only form of credential they offer and move toward a mixed-offering of degrees plus shorter cycle qualifications and credentials. This shift will allow them and their business partners to co-create shorter cycle qualifications that respond to industry changes and move rapidly with re/upskilling needs of the current and future workforce towards the digitalization era. In fact, Universities of the Future are expected to have a much stronger focus on career management for students, both while they’re at university completing their studies and after they leave to the world of work. This will go beyond traditional career advice and may include offers of continuous training and post-graduation courses to “top up” their skills with short cycle degrees. This would help flesh-out graduates’ resumes based on industry demand and offer new skills which might not have been taught in the student’s core degree.
At the end of this project and afterwards, universities will be more aware, prompt and able to effectively respond to the demands of industry/education 4.0, positioning themselves as “first movers”, which in turn will allowed them to be more competitive and attractive not only for students and teachers but also for strategic partners, such as companies and regional actors, with whom these organisations will have stronger and meaningful links. These responsiveness level and improved cooperation within the key stakeholders will be increased and supported by the project resources, such as the Blueprint, Open Partnerships, Guiding Tools and Virtual Factory developed, tested/validated by end-users and fine-tuned within the project.