21 Mar 2018

New policy tools: How to foster more socially engaged universities in Europe

EU-funded project will propose new policy tools to assess the community engagement of universities

An international project has been launched to address a new priority on the EU’s policy agenda for higher education: the community engagement of universities. The project ‘TEFCE – Towards a European Framework for Community Engagement of Higher Education’ will develop tools to help universities to better interact with their communities at the local and regional level in order to address pressing social needs.

 The TEFCE project will contribute to building inclusive and connected higher education systems by proposing a framework for a common European approach to community engagement of higher education. The project will first take stock of existing research and initiatives that have attempted to measure the community engagement of universities. The project will then develop a “toolbox” that could assist universities and policymakers at the EU level in fostering greater community engagement and that could provide a meaningful measurement of an institution’s level of community engagement.

The TEFCE project, which will last from 2018 to 2020, is led by the Institute for the Development of Education (Croatia) and Technische Universität Dresden (Germany) and will gather leading researchers, universities, local authorities and university networks from seven EU Member States. The project’s expert team will include researchers from the University of Twente, University of Ghent, Dublin Institute of Technology, University of Rijeka and the Institute for the Development of Education. Universities and local authorities from the cities of Dresden (Germany), Dublin (Ireland), Enschede (Netherlands) and Rijeka (Croatia) will be piloting the developed toolbox, and additional expertise will be provided by the European Consortium of Innovative Universities, the Global University Network for Innovation (represented by the Catalan Association of Public Universities) and PPMI from Lithuania, coordinator of NESET II expert network.