A new EU transferable skills project will pave the way for a strong European university alliance

Six university partners have been awarded EU funding for a project that will generate new knowledge about transferable skills while also laying the foundation for our future university alliance.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Universidade de Lisboa, Université Catholique de Louvain, The University of Oslo, Université de Paris and Aarhus University. 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. 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 perceptive 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 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.


Published July 3, 2019 9:43 AM