Towards a European Framework for Community Engagement of Higher Education (TEFCE)

Programme Erasmus+ Key Action 3: Forward-Looking Cooperation Projects


The TEFCE project aims to define a common European approach to community engagement, differentiating it from other forms of engagement (e.g. business engagement, the entrepreneurial university etc.), and identifying tools that could push this agenda forwards. In other words, there is a need to take stock of all initiatives that have been undertaken, to critically analyse and synthesise lessons learnt from these initiatives, and to take the ambitious next step of defining and developing a framework that could assist both universities and policymakers in increasing community engagement at the European level, and measuring it in a meaningful way.

The project would approach this task in the following steps:

  1. Research/analysis/mapping: researchers who are world-renowned for their expertise in the area of higher education policy, with a specific emphasis on university-community engagement, and together with other experts, will provide an academically robust, critical and evidence-based foundation for the project by defining key concepts, dimensions and approaches to community engagement and describing how these fit into the broader debate on the role of higher education in the 21st century.
  2. Developing a toolbox: Researchers and policy experts will develop a practical and user-friendly resource (including measures for guidance, assessment and peer-learning) for universities on community engagement for universities to plan or self-assess their community engagement.
  3. Piloting; Partner universities (from different EU Member States) will apply the tool to their institutions, resulting in a self-assessment, international peer-learning visits to other institutions, and an external review.
  4. Local stakeholder engagement: Both local government representatives and local community representatives would be directly involved in the piloting/assessment process.Developing proposals of EU policy tools: Researchers and policy experts, supported by all consortium institutions, will critically assess what accountability tools could be developed and used policymakers at the national and EU level to monitor, compare and /or foster community engagement.
Project objectives:
  • To develop innovative and feasible policy tools at the university and European level for supporting, monitoring and assessing the community engagement of universities
  • To develop and pilot an innovative toolbox (including specific measures for guidance, assessment and peer-learning) on the community engagement of universities
  • To assess the feasibility of launching innovative tools for policymakers and stakeholders to monitor, measure and incentivise community engagement of universities at the European level
Project results:
  • Academically robust, critical and evidence-based foundation for the project, identifying needs, gaps and opportunities for a framework for community engagement of higher education in Europe
  • Innovative and user-friendly toolbox for universities to plan and/or self-assess their community engagement
  • Relevance and quality of toolbox tested and confirmed by universities, local governments and experts
  • Recommendations on innovative solutions for policymakers and stakeholders at the European level to monitor, measure and incentivise community engagement in higher education
  • Support received by key stakeholders at the European level as a basis for influencing the European policy agenda and for sustainability
  • Raised visibility among key stakeholders at the European level of the importance of community engagement and of the project’s objectives and results

Project contributions SDGS’s:

  • GOAL 4: Quality Education
  • GOAL 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • GOAL 17: Partnerships for the goals

Project partners

  • Technische Universitat Dresden,Germany
  • Institute for the Development of Education (IDE), Croatia
  • University of Twente, Netherlands
  • Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland
  • University of Rijeka, Croatia
  • Ghent University, Belgium
  • City of Dresden, Germany
  • Knowlegde Point Twente, Region of Twente, Netherlands
  • City of Dublin, Ireland
  • City of Rijeka, Croatia
  • Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP), Spain
  • PPMI Group, UAB, Lithuania
  • The European Consortium of Innovative Universities, Netherlands

Contact person: Thomas Farnell


Project start date: 01/01/2018

Project finishing date: 31/12/2020

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