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Pages: 1939-1948
Publication year: 2020
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.0625

Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference

EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY NETWORKS: BOTTOM UP OR TOP DOWN APPROACH? THE EIT DIGITAL COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE ON INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS A THIRD WAY

G. Guri1, F. Renouard2, M. Marchese1

1University of Trento (ITALY)
2Université de Rennes 1 and EIT Digital (FRANCE)
There is growing interest from the universities’ management and national or European policy-makers to establish functional and highly competitive university networks. These networks can be established in line with network of knowledge i.e based on the geographical proximity, sectorial competence and industrial functionality of the universities (Massoni/Umberti 2009) or by following European Union launched initiatives such as European Universities Initiatives. Another approach is that of enhancing the networking of universities within the education component in the triangle of innovation knowledge community (KIC) promoted by the European Institute of Technology (EIT) on identified European challenges and opportunities such as climate change, digitalization, raw materials industry, etc. To these specific opportunities is aggregated also the networking as the logical outcome of cooperation among universities’ partnerships implementing projects in both research and education such as exchange of students/academic staff.

Beyond the need of providing a qualitative public good such as education, there is a need to leverage a network of universities to enable the exchange of best practices, foster cooperation and as a result improve the quality of education. European universities can strengthen their attractiveness, compared to the US and increasingly competitive Asian universities, only if capable of bringing together their competitive advantages and smart specializations. The same need is perceived by universities. 54 consortium partnerships applied for the EU initiative of European Universities, which considers them as transnational alliances of higher education institutions from across the EU that share a long-term strategy to promote European values and identity, strengthen mobility of students and staff, and foster the quality, inclusiveness and competitiveness of European higher education. Networking helps also the sustainability of Universities as it favors the process of scaling-up excellency while containing the costs. However, in a still fragmented legal framework and institutional hesitance, the European network of universities needs still momentum to be built. Above all, it’s fundamental to understand whether the process of university networking has to be initiated or pushed through a bottom up or top-down approach.

Drawing upon the example of the EIT Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship community of practice, this paper argues that although the top-down approach remains fundamental to facilitate the establishment of a favorable strategic partnership with strategic objectives, provide a legal framework and initial financial support to promote networking, it has to be implemented thanks to the development of a bottom up cooperation, which ensures the mutual trust and shared understanding among university teachers on common challenges and needs of networking to increase competitive competence and scale up in terms of costs. Hence the process is started top-down but it is enhanced and sustainably implemented thanks to a bottom up cooperation, starting from the co-design of needs and opportunities. This mutual trust established in an institutionally regulated legal framework such as the EIT Digital I&E community of practice may not only contribute to a functional European network of universities but may also facilitate implementation of new initiatives such as distributed students’ activities or micro-credits among universities.
@InProceedings{GURI2020EUR,
author = {Guri, G. and Renouard, F. and Marchese, M.},
title = {EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY NETWORKS: BOTTOM UP OR TOP DOWN APPROACH? THE EIT DIGITAL COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE ON INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS A THIRD WAY},
series = {12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN20 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-09-17979-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2020.0625},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2020.0625},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Online Conference},
month = {6-7 July, 2020},
year = {2020},
pages = {1939-1948}}
TY - CONF
AU - G. Guri AU - F. Renouard AU - M. Marchese
TI - EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY NETWORKS: BOTTOM UP OR TOP DOWN APPROACH? THE EIT DIGITAL COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE ON INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS A THIRD WAY
SN - 978-84-09-17979-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2020.0625
PY - 2020
Y1 - 6-7 July, 2020
CI - Online Conference
JO - 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN20 Proceedings
SP - 1939
EP - 1948
ER -
G. Guri, F. Renouard, M. Marchese (2020) EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY NETWORKS: BOTTOM UP OR TOP DOWN APPROACH? THE EIT DIGITAL COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE ON INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS A THIRD WAY, EDULEARN20 Proceedings, pp. 1939-1948.
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