UNICORN: University Community Learning

Programme Erasmus+ Key Action 2: Strategic Partnerships for higher education


The purpose of the Erasmus+ project UNICORN (UNIversity COmmunity LeaRNing) will design and test a new Mobility Scheme for students that combines international mobility with a Service-Learning experience in the community.

The main objective of the UNICORN project is to offer higher education students a new, unprecedented learning opportunity that will help them to develop the so-called “civic and democratic competences”: civic mindedness, co-operation skills, intercultural skills, openness to cultural otherness, flexibility and adaptability, knowledge and critical understanding of the self and of others, etc. These competences, though not strictly discipline-related, are ever more necessary to deal with the current societal challenges and specifically to act as an active citizen and a competent professional in today’s complex and diverse societies.

In order to achieve these objectives, the UNICORN partnership will set up a new International Mobility Scheme for higher education students integrating the Service-Learning approach.

The University of Bologna coordinates the 3 year Strategic Partnership project, that started in September 2019 and will end in December 2022.

The University of Antwerp, the University of Leipzig, Complutense University of Madrid and University College Cork are the European academic partners. The University of Pretoria (South Africa) is also a project partner, and will bring the added value of its 10-years expertise in implementing Service-Learning and community engagement projects, and in training academics and students for that purpose.

Each European institution works together with a community partner. UCSIA, the University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp, is UAntwerp’s community partner.

Project objectives:

  • Design and test a new Mobility Scheme for students that combines international mobility with a Service-Learning experience in the community.
  • Enhancing the THIRD MISSION and civic engagement of EU higher education institutions (HEIs)
  • Reinforcing the COLLABORATION between universities and community for the benefit of both students and of the local/global communities
  • Encourage the PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF ACADEMICS and contributing to foster the adoption of more effective, innovative teaching methods based on experiential/practical/work-based learning
  • Contributing to further ENCOURAGE INTERNATIONAL MOBILITY in HE (especially in those disciplines in which it is not yet properly widespread/developed)
Project results:
  • A new Mobility Scheme for HE students that will serve the purpose of developing their «civic and democratic competences» and enhance their sense of social and civic responsibility.
  • A set of Training Resources for academics and community organisations
  • A MOOC for students, to prepare them to the Service-Learning experience abroad
  • A Mobility Administrative Toolkit
  • A set of Recommendations for policymakers

Project contributions SDGS’s:

  • GOAL 4: Quality Education
  • GOAL 17: Partnerships for the goals

Project partners

  • University of Bologna: coordinator
  • University of Antwerp
  • University of Leipzig
  • Complutense University of Madrid
  • University College Cork
  • University of Pretoria (South Africa)
  • Azienda pubblica di Servizi alla Persona del Distretto Cesena Valle Savio
  • FORIKOLO, Schulen für Sierra Leone
  • Ayuntamiento de Coslada
  • Cork City Council

Contact person: Ellen Decraene

Email: ellen.decraene@ucsia.be

Project start date: 01/09/2019

Project finishing date: 31/12/2022

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