A new EU transferable skills project will pave the way for a strong European university alliance
Together with five strong partners, the University of Oslo has been awarded EU funding for a project that will generate new knowledge about transferable skills while also laying the foundation for a future university alliance.
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Universidade de Lisboa, Université Catholique de Louvain, University of Oslo, Université de Paris and Aarhus University, the lead institution for the project.
These are the members of the team that will work together to generate new knowledge about transferable skills through a new two-year EU project beginning in September. The UiO-contribution to this Strategic Partnership project is hosted by the Center for Computing in Science Education - a national Center for Excellence in Education.
Transferable skills are skills developed in a particular context, for example by studying a subject that can be transferred to other contexts, for example a post-graduate career. As AU’s pro-rector Berit Eika, explains:
“Our students graduate with a solid academic ballast, but during your university studies, you also acquire a variety of more general skills and competencies. This could be the ability to structure large amounts of data, analyse complex scenarios, communicate difficult material in an accessible way, or quite simply the ability to acquire new skills and new knowledge.”
Important tools for a changing labour market
Eika points out that transferable skills, in combination with strong content-specific knowledge, are crucial on a dynamic labour market, on which candidates need a high degree of specialist expertise but must also be prepared to change course during their working lives.
“For this reason, we want to learn more about which transferable skills are important, and not least about how we can improve them in our students. In part in relation to classroom teaching, but also in connection with other educational activities. A total of 100 people from the institutions will be involved, including teachers, researchers, students and administrative staff. The cross-European perspective is particularly interesting. Increasingly, our graduates will need to operate on the international labour market, so it makes sense to carry out the project together with other research-intensive universities,” Eika explains.
A springboard to closer collaboration
But as University of Oslo rector and Svein Stølen explains, transferable skills aren’t the only focus of the project.
“The plan is for the six universities to apply to form a formalised European university alliance that will also include Kings College London. Working on transferable skills will thus become a springboard to more joint initiatives,” says Stølen, who chairs the alliance.
The vision of an alliance of European universities was originally proposed in 2017 by French president Emmanuel Macron in a speech at Sorbonne University. Macron’s aim was to intensify the collaboration between European universities in order to promote scientific and scholarly collaboration and increase student mobility.
The European Council and the European Commission have embraced Macron’s vision, and the ambition is now to create a number of inter-European university networks by 2024. The first networks were approved in late June. The University of Oslo and its alliance partners are looking to submit their application during the next selection round in early 2020.
“Although we all have different starting points and work in different national systems, fundamentally, we share the same mission: to perform research and educate students at the highest international level. While the current project is about transferable skills, the long-term perspective is much larger for us. We want to strengthen our own value for society, while at a deeper lever also strengthening the European universities’ contribution to the continued development of the continent. There is no lack of challenges to address, and we can only solve them if we work together,” Stølen concludes.
- The InnoveD4TS project will run from 1 September 2019 to 31 October 2021
- The project has received a EUR 238,917 grant from Erasmus+
- The project will result in a state-of-the-art report on the concept ‘transferable skills’, as well as a model that can be used to analyse concrete initiatives.
The UiO contribution to this Strategic Partnership project
In line with the overall strategic aims for education, the UiO contribution to this Strategic Partnership project is hosted by the Center for Computing in Science Education - a national Center for Excellence in Education (2016-2026). The centre is based on twenty years of experience in gradually reforming the physics and mathematics bachelor programmes to integrate computational methods. Closely linked to excellence initiatives in sciences – it grew from three Centers of Excellence in Research, and the key personnel involved in instructional design are also excellent researchers with significant science research portfolios.
Computational methods have been an integrated part of the mathematics and physics bachelor programmes since 2003. In the period from 2007-2017 the initiative was extended to bachelor educations in chemistry and geoscience. And in 2017 also extended to the bachelor programme in bioscience, with the introduction of a new course in introduction to computational models for bioscience. This course is the first of its kind internationally. For this course, novel methods for instruction and student activities were developed. The initiative is now expanding to the humanities and the social sciences. Two courses in political science has been redesigned to integrate computing, a new course in programming for humanists will start in 2020, and computing and data science is integrated in the new honours programme at UiO from 2019.
To ensure that the development of learning methods and materials is research based, the CSE team have developed an internationally leading research group in the field of computational science education research. With supervision from internationally leading researchers in the field they are building a research programme to address how students learn computational methods, how their transfer problem solving methods from one context to another, and how computational methods affect student learning and creativity.
Professor and Center director Anders Malthe-Sørenssen head the CSE initiative.