On 20 December 2022, the foundation stone for the "European University for Academic Continuing Education" (EU.ACE) was laid in Budapest. To help students to be better prepared for the many challenges tomorrow's world holds, the University for Continuing Education Krems, the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers (Cnam), the Andrássy University of Budapest, the Ulm University and the Manisa Celal Bayar University will join their forces in their contribution to the EU's "European Universities" initiative.
The partner institutions involved in the "European University for Academic Continuing Education” are the University for Continuing Education Krems, the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers (France), Andrássy University Budapest (Hungary), the Ulm University (Germany) and Manisa Celal Bayar University (Turkey) - all of them share the conviction that academic continuing education is an essential part of lifelong learning. They consider as key elements of academic continuing education the wide rage of different educational offerings different target groups can choose from, including both degree and non-degree programs, alongside traditional educational pathways and formats.
Building a framework for academic continuing education
The target set by the heads of state and government attending the EU meeting in Porto in May 2021 shows how continuing education is gaining in importance for policymakers: By 2030, at least 60 percent of adults should enroll in continuing education each year. Nevertheless, it has hitherto not even been consistently clarified what exactly is meant by "academic continuing education" due to the variety of programs available. Often, the target group determines the definition, sometimes the course type, sometimes the access requirements, the fee structure, or other criteria. EU.ACE’s objective is to form a common framework for the EU and beyond, and to act as a model for future higher education institutions.
University model highly effective in societal terms
The overall aim of EU.ACE is to establish a unique European university model of 21st century teaching, research, administration and university management that strengthens European values and Europe's identity. The Alliance partner institutions are distinctive for their strong and long-standing ties to the academic and professional communities. Together, they combine excellent research and state of the art teaching with social, economic and regional engagement. Thus, the Alliance serves as a model within the European Higher Education Area when it comes to lifelong learning at universities. Here, all working activities are directed towards the solution of societal challenges, whereby the areas of employability and adaptability to oncoming jobs requiring certain qualifications are also taken into consideration.
Organizational models in tune with the times
The EU.ACE Alliance will develop a proactive and agile European university that co-evolves with society to swiftly adjust to societal challenges facing today’s and future generations. This will include teaching approaches and methods specifically tailored for working professionals when engaged in lifelong learning. Imparting European values in a globalized world is one more of the Alliance's priorities. Furthermore, a flexible management and business model is created pursuing a longtime cooperation accountable to the SDGS, in particular with focus on Goal 4 - High Quality Education. EU.ACE also sees itself as a laboratory where new models of continuing education in teaching are developed and tested, sharing its experience and the value devised by its model with other European countries and on a global level.
An internationally shining example
The EU.ACE Alliance provides its driving forces to further developments in the field of continuing education using its knowledge to stimulate bench learning adding the support of professional networks, including international (EUCEN) and national (AUCEN, MELLearN). Other universities and university networks, such as the OpenEU, should benefit from such transfers. Through transferring knowledge, the development of an integrated and transdisciplinary research and learning environment will also play a major role. Joint training programs are planned aligned with the needs of the global market and focusing on soft skills, including digital, green, and resilient skills, as well as language abilities, especially for professional communication purposes. Staff and students will be encouraged to meet on-campus or virtually to exchange best practise models and to learn from each other.
To stay in the job in a highly dynamic world, EU.ACE is designed to evolve on an ongoing basis. This encompasses promoting multidisciplinarity and multilingualism as well as involving various stakeholders. In doing so, academic freedom and democratic values are understood as prerequisites to fulfil the common tasks and create a European University for Continuing Education.