06 Nov 2019

University-Business Cooperation for Sustainability

At the end of October, IRI UL researchers participated in two Brussels events, dedicated to university-business cooperation. They presented our experiences and best practices from the Erasmus+ project PEOPLE (Knowledge Alliances) in workshops and discussion groups.

The 8th European University Business Forum (UBForum) was held on 24 and 25 October 2019 and explored the role of university-business cooperation for innovation in sustainable development and brought together some 400 policy makers, representatives of higher education institutions, businesses and industry. The UBForum was established in 2008 as a platform to encourage and improve relations between the world of academia and business and is part of wider efforts to support the Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe.

PEOPLE team members Gregor Cerinšek and Dr Sara Arko participated in one of the afternoon workshops focusing on providing learning experiences that enable students to acquire the right mix of knowledge, skills, and competences. Research shows that short-term policies which ensure employment of graduates do have a statistical impact of reducing unemployment, but are insufficient in the sense of directly addressing the skills mismatch. Since the nature of work is changing, transferable skills are gaining importance. One of the key aims of the PEOPLE project was to address the gap between skills and competences provided in social sciences and humanities (SSH) curricula and the skills required or expected from SSH graduates in industry.

In the PEOPLE project’s Learning Cycles, the project partners developed a problem-based learning approach, where SSH students work on industry-relevant challenges in a project format, mentored both by academic instructors and industry representatives. Essentially collaborative, interdisciplinary, and applied to a real-life problem, the PEOPLE learning process provided an environment that enhances teamwork skills, research and project management skills, communication skills, interdisciplinary cooperation, and problem-solving skills that are increasingly required in a number of workplaces.

One day earlier, IRI UL team participated in the Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances Cluster Meeting on University-Business Cooperation, organised by the Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) and the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Approximately 150 representatives of ongoing as well as selected concluded Knowledge Alliance projects gathered in Brussels to share the results and good practices of projects, identify and support possible synergies between projects, facilitate networking, and discuss topics of common interest. IRI UL project manager, Gregor Cerinšek, moderated one of the discussion groups, focusing on Sustainable economy and environment. He presented the PEOPLE project methodology and key outputs, initiating the discussion on the relevance of university-business cooperation for innovation in sustainability. The Cluster meeting and the UBForum, organised back-to-back, provided an excellent opportunity to connect with experts and organisations, involved in university-business cooperation policies and practices.