The fourth issue of the UNICREDS newsletter has been released. Download a pdf copy from the website and sign up to our mailing list in the grey box to the right to receive future newsletters direct to your email in-box.
The theme of the conference was Baltic Sea Region Setting Sails for co-creative multilevel governance. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture and took place in Turku, Finland. Nearly 200 guests met to discuss and hear topical themes of multilevel governance and EU 2020 Strategy. The conference took place on a unique site: the culture centre in Logomo, a recently renovated engine shed.
The conference utilized the open space working method. UNICREDS hosted one pre-arranged session with another Finnish project, under the combined name "Distinctive mark of success – Triple Helix". Representatives of the University Consortium of Seinäjoki and Frami Ltd planned the programme and material for the session. Participants had a free schedule to attend sessions and even to arrange a new session. The ultimate aim was to produce action plans on selected topics.
Among the conclusions drawn during the conference were that for co-creative multilevel governance we need social capital: trust between people, to organizations and between organizations, informal interactions, feeling of belonging/sense of togetherness. We need head, heart and feet for actual cooperation. Also new culture for cooperation is important. It includes adequate, but simple and flexible structures and also leadership.
One practical experience was encouraging. In open session conferences people may wander between different sessions. Visual roll-ups help to stop participants to hear the key message, also if they arrive with different schedules.
Professor Juha Alarinta at the Baltic Sea Region Setting Sails conference
The results from our work on geographic and community ‘fit’ and partnership development were published in June. As the UNICREDS model begins to take shape it is clear that the themes chosen by the project are closely interlinked and will bear updating as the project progresses. Early results show that the ways that universities operate are changing in response to the needs of students and to regional economic drivers.
Innovative partnerships between multiple universities and further education institutions, local government and industry are building a new type of university, based on a common drive to build a competitive knowledge economy. These universities offer flexible, accessible higher education for students, delivered through a blend of class-based and distance learning, supported by local learning centres where students can work alongside their peers – overcoming many of the geographical and social boundaries to education.
Partnership with regional government can help to reduce rural depopulation and regenerate local businesses through the provision of skilled graduates to support essential regional requirements in areas like healthcare and engineering. Courses developed in partnership with local businesses help to ensure employable graduates with the skills that businesses need and relevant continuing professional development for existing staff.
The economic benefits from the vital connection between university research and innovative businesses can be maximised through smart specialisation into research areas that build on the region’s existing assets, supported by strategic policy decisions by local government. These university-industry-government collaborations often grow out of existing partnerships within a region, but the initiative can be with the universities, the regional government or with businesses to start a partnership even in a region where there is currently no university presence.
These are just a taster of some of the work covered so far. The complete reports and good practices identified during Work Packages 1 and 2 are available for download on the project website at www.unicreds.eu/documents.