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NEOLAiA Project 1st Kick-off Meeting: Uniting European Institutions for Lifelong Learning

Feb 16, 2024 | Neolaia

On the 7th and 8th of February, the bustling city of Brussels, Belgium, became the epicentre of educational collaboration as the NEOLAiA Project held its 1st Kick-off Meeting at the Bevenue Conference Centre (VBO FEB). This landmark event brought together over 150 participants from esteemed institutions across Europe, marking a significant milestone in the pursuit of an inclusive Europe. With the resounding motto of “transforming regions for an inclusive Europe” the meeting served as a beacon of collaboration and innovation. 

Diverse Participation

Representing a rich tapestry of academic excellence, the participants hailed from renowned institutions including Bielefeld University (Germany), Örebro University (Sweden), Siauliai State University of Applied Sciences (Lithuania), University of Jaén (Spain), University of Nicosia (Cyprus), University of Ostrava (Czech Republic), University of Tours (France), Stefan cel Mare University of Suceava (Romania), and University of Salerno (Italy).

Moreover, the event welcomed distinguished guests from various organizations, including Central Sweden, the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research (DZS), the European Parliament, Ostrava City Council, Delegation of the Junta de Andalucía in Brussels, University of Sorbonne Nouvelle / University of Luxembourg, Foundation for the Management of European Lifelong Learning Programme of Cyprus, Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the European Union, 012factory, Region Centre Val De Loire, and the Permanent Representation of Romania to the European Union.

Dynamic Agenda

The two-day event was packed with engaging activities aimed at fostering collaboration and laying the groundwork for the NEOLAiA Project’s success. On the first day, participants were welcomed with remarks from the Rectors of University of Jaén and Örebro University, setting the tone for the proceedings. The rector of the UJA, Nicolás Ruiz, has assured that “This is a strong and well-functioning alliance, which will contribute to develop an improved higher education system and lead a transformative process within our regions, increasing our competitiveness and attractiveness at a global level”. A plenary session followed, featuring presentations on the NEOLAiA project’s background, leadership, structure, and key action areas.

The agenda also included the presentation of Work Packages, pivotal components of the project’s operational framework. Various meetings were organized, catering to different stakeholders such as the Governing Board, Steering Committee, Executive Committee, Student Advisory Group, Work Package Delegates, Associated Partners, and External Stakeholders. These sessions provided opportunities for stakeholders to align their visions, share insights, and forge collaborative pathways.

The day culminated in a celebratory kick-off event, where Guests and External Stakeholders interacted with university representatives, further solidifying partnerships and laying the groundwork for future collaboration.

Focused Discussions

The second day of the conference was marked by focused discussions within Work Package Meetings. Each Work Package Leader briefed delegates on the schedule and objectives, fostering deeper understanding and engagement with project initiatives, discussed in detailed about the upcoming activities such as Digital NEOLAiA Passport Platform, the exchange formats for studying and teaching, a symposium on language policy and many other exciting activities waiting ahead.

Additionally, a dedicated session was organized for student representatives, acknowledging their pivotal role in shaping the project’s outcomes. The conference concluded with a wrap-up session for the Steering Committee and Executive Committee, reflecting on key insights and charting the course for future milestones.

Driving Lifelong Learning Forward

The NEOLAiA Project 1st Kick-off Meeting served as a testament to the power of collaboration in driving lifelong learning initiatives forward. By bringing together diverse perspectives, expertise, and resources, the project aims to catalyse innovation, foster inclusive education, and empower individuals across Europe and beyond.

As stakeholders return to their respective institutions, they carry with them a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to realizing the project’s objectives. With collaboration as its cornerstone, the NEOLAiA Project sets a precedent for collective action in advancing education and shaping a brighter future for generations to come.

About the NEOLAiA Alliance

NEOLAiA (youth in Greek) is the alliance of nine young European Universities for digital natives, which stands for inclusion, gives personal and tailor-made answers, strengthens democracy and encourages their members to make a difference, becoming game-changers. 

With the 1st Kick-off meeting the NEOLAiA Alliance will start implementing the activities – the partners will work towards the exchange formats for studying and teaching, such as microcredentials, blended intensive programmes, student and teacher exchange mobilities, establishment of a pedagogical hub, a diversity policy to promote European values, a NEOLAiA Living Lab, open science and other activities.

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