Education is a key factor in cross-border regional development, as it is highly determinant for economic activity and productivity, as well as for labor mobility, creating the long-term premises for a higher living standard and quality of life. Given the negative demographic trends in the cross-border region, the educational profile of the population is an essential condition for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, making effective education and training systems a foundation of fair, open and democratic societies.
Addressing cross-border regional high-level skills needs requires action. More people need to be attracted to the fields of study that prepare students for jobs where shortages exist or are emerging.
The automotive industry is cross-border region’s main vector for industrialization; it is also one of the first industries that has leveraged the area’s intelligence and creativity through R&D centers that are the promotors of key trends in the European and global automotive industry. The evolution of this industry has to be supported because it has the potential to transform the cross-border area into a regional pole of excellence in the field. Anticipated changes to motor vehicles will transform the automotive industry. As the connected car matures technologically, it will influence market trends and automakers’ relationships. Features like safety sensors, detailed engine maintenance signals, and smartphone integration are already becoming common in new upmarket vehicles. This industry evolution represents a tremendous common opportunity for the regional cross-border area, and the technical universities in the region need to treat this sector as high-level priority, taking also into account its multidisciplinary nature, allowing the concentration of material and human resources of several faculties and departments (IT&C, electronics, mechanics, materials).
Higher education must play its part in facing up to cross-border region’s social and democratic challenges. This means ensuring that higher education is inclusive, open to talent from all backgrounds, and that higher education institutions are not ivory towers, but civic-minded learning communities connected to their communities. The profile of the population of regional students entering and completing higher education should reflect wider society. Breaking down barriers between higher education and the rest of society can help students develop their social and civic competences. Technical universities from the cross-border area should be engaged in the development of their cities and region, whether through contributing to development strategies, cooperation with businesses, the public and voluntary sectors or supporting public dialogue about societal issues. Cross-border area universities must facilitate connections between academics, entrepreneurs and public authorities, to align their educational offer to needs identified in smart specialization strategies, seize opportunities for innovation in priority sectors such as the automotive engineering, and help local businesses and other organizations understand and adopt new ways of thinking.
The general objective of CROSSCOMP is to foster the improvement of the existing cooperation between three cross-border area universities and to transform it into coordinated collaboration, aiming to increase the partners’ institutional capacity to build a labor force linked to the latest requirements of the automotive engineering sector, leading to an increase in the degree of tertiary education students from both sides of the border, equipped with the labor market relevant skills, in order to ensure the improvement of the graduates’ employment rate and to meet regional companies increasing needs.
Specific objective 1
The first specific objective of CROSSCOMP is to improve the quality and relevance of the academic offer of the 3 partnering universities, in line with the automotive regional sector’s labor market needs, by joint activities aiming to develop a common educational and research strategy, to introduce a new automotive master degree, to update curricular content of 15 automotive engineering disciplines, and to improve teaching skills of 50 members of the academic staff, with the support of regional companies and through dialogue that can provide exchange of experience and examples of good practice in the field.
Specific objective 2
he second specific objective of CROSSCOMP is to increase the joint capacity of the three technical universities from both sides of the border to anticipate and respond to market requirements on delivering the appropriate practical abilities and technical skills in the field of automotive industry, by upgrading the didactic equipment in 6 laboratories, 3 amphitheaters, and improving the IT&C academic infrastructure, in order to enhance higher education facilities using a joint differentiated approach, in close cooperation with the private sector.
Specific objective 3
The third specific objective of CROSSCOMP is to increase the degree of promoting the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among the students of the three universities from both sides of the border, as well as enabling them to get acquainted with the latest automotive innovation topics, by the means of a joint summer school programme and 5 dedicated webinars, aiming to equip the students with appropriate, labor market relevant competences, allowing them to acquire the breadth and depth of skills they need.