Technical universities should become more visible in Europe, according to the Idea League, the alliance of TU Delft and three international partners.
The Idea League is keen to place increased emphasis on the fact that technical universities have a specific influence on society. First and foremost, technical universities educate: engineers that often go on to hold key positions. Technical universities also play a pivotal role in solving social issues. And finally, they significantly influence the economy and innovation. In light of their collaboration with industry and entrepreneurs, technical universities are different from standard universities, explains Willemijn Dicke, Secretary General of the Idea League – an organisation borne from the same body of thought. With the introduction of the Bachelor-Master system in 1999, Imperial College, TU Delft, ETH Zurich and RWTH Aachen University (IDEA) were concerned about their five-year curriculum being shortened. They compared their curricula and examination processes, and exchanged best practices in order to improve quality. Such an exchange will now also takes place at the policy level.
Over the years, Imperial College departed and since 2012, Chalmers University of Technology (Gothenburg) has been part of the Idea League. Collaboration between the universities can be seen in various initiatives, such as a joint Geo-physics Master’s degree programme. Ten years ago, the universities teamed up to design a two-year programme offering students the chance to study for six months at each of the universities before choosing where they would like to graduate. ‘Since then, the programme has produced roughly 350 graduates’, Dicke adds.
The Idea League also offers research grants to students looking to conduct research at one of the partner universities. Dicke notes that the summer schools for doctoral candidates and Master’s students planning on beginning doctoral re-
search are ‘always full’. More extended are the so-called doctoral schools, programmes that bring doctoral candidates from each of the institutions together for tuition from the leading professor in a certain field, before collaborating on a particular problem. This allows doctoral candidates to form a network, while giving professors the opportunity to discover fresh talent. Recently, ‘the challenge’ was launched, a programme inviting honours students to spend a weekend in each of the four cities focusing on policy and leadership and working on an actual project. The weekend in Delft was held at Tennet in November.