Re-engineering Engineering Education in Europe

According to the European Commission’s Agenda for the Modernisation of Europe’s Higher Education (HE), profound reforms are needed in key areas: to increase the quantity of HE graduates at all levels; to enhance the quality and relevance of human capital development in HE; to create effective governance and funding mechanisms in support of quality, relevance and excellence; and to strengthen the Knowledge Triangle between knowledge, research and innovation. Moreover, the international mobility of students, researchers and staff, as well as the growing internationalisation of higher education, have a strong impact on the need for change and improvement each of these key areas. Engineering schools/universities and their collaboration with industry and the engineering professions play a crucial role in achieving the targets of a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
The grand societal challenges faced by humanity, especially the economic crisis, environmental sustainability, climate change and demographic aging, have an enormous impact on decisionmaking both at policy level and on people’s everyday lives. Although the transformations brought about by digitalisation and globalisation were recognised years ago, their revolutionary force was neither realised early enough nor taken seriously enough in HE. The role of universities has throughout the history been to be forerunners of change by analysing the complex trends and challenges in the development of knowledge and in society. Universities emphasize new ways of creative thinking and collaborative activity for all sectors and aspects of modern societies. Universities play a key role in mobilising local and regional actors – and a bottom-up approach is a prerequisite and warranty for the desired change. In the light of this, the paper intends to present an analysis of the changing role of universities and report on the modernisation of university activities and higher education policies while keeping in mind the following three streams of targeted outcomes:
1) Developing structures, processes and operations in the university-society interface to better respond to the need for new answers to the grand societal challenges;
2) Developing practices to increase the societal impact of engineering schools/universities, their visibility and their attractiveness;
3) Developing new activities between engineering education and the engineering profession in order to enhance the transfer and co-creation of knowledge and the mobility of engineering students, researchers and professionals.

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