Group photograph of the associated partners of RUN-EU and the rectors/presidents of the seven member universities.

The future of the alliance was discussed at the first RUN-EU General Assembly

Group photograph of the associated partners of RUN-EU and the rectors/presidents of the seven member universities.
© Alan Place

Between 1-5 November, up to 200 RUN-EU delegates, comprising students, researchers, academic staff members and associated partners from each country drawn from industry, enterprise, regional government and society, as well as the rectors/presidents of the seven member universities, came together as part of the first RUN-EU General Assembly (GA) at the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS).

The week of events was an opportunity for the RUN-EU Management Committee to discuss and evaluate the alliance first-year achievements, deepen institutional cooperation, improve cross-border collaboration between all members and associated partners, and discuss the plans for the future of RUN-EU.

It included visits to TUS campuses in Athlone, Thurles, and Limerick, as well as visits to relevant stakeholders in the Irish Midlands and Midwest regions (Limerick City and County Council Chamber Offices, Irish Bioeconomy Foundation, and CONFIRM). These visits provided an immersive experience to the GA guests in the Midland and Midwest regions of Ireland and opportunities to network.

Throughout the week, 15 student representatives from the seven higher education institutions participated in four different Short Advanced Programme (SAP) Challenges, based on teamwork activities related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

They were spread across the three TUS campuses and given the opportunity to provide innovative sustainable solutions for real-life societal issues, such as sustainable development, plastic pollution, eco-innovation, and food waste.

Group photograph of students participating in a Short Advanced Programme in Thurles, Ireland.

James Clifford, a TUS postgraduate student who participated in the Sustainable Development – Social Enterprise SAP Challenge in Thurles, said of the event: ‘We’ve been meeting different chairpersons for a couple of weeks in preparation for this week. And on Monday, when we were put into our groups and divided up, it was just great to get to know people, their different backgrounds, how they work, how to think, it was just amazing. Absolutely brilliant. I really enjoyed this week’.

In her speech at the gala dinner, the TUS Student’s Union President, Áine Daly, said: ‘Even though we are six countries, seven universities, we are one community with RUN, with everyone working together as a collective with a common goal and purpose. Having been involved since the beginning of RUN-EU, back in February 2020, over in Brussels, and seeing how much it has progressed, it is very inspiring and reassuring that the network is exactly what our students need. We are one, we are RUN’.

On the last day, TUS Millennium Theatre hosted the final GA meeting, where students and members from the Management Committee were able to showcase the conclusions they have come up to during the week and provide recommendations for the future of the alliance to the whole RUN-EU community. TUS also took the stage to launch the RUN-EU+ project, a long-term research strategy of the alliance.

Vincent Cunnane, President of TUS, speaking at the RUN-EU General Assembly.
Vincent Cunnane • ©Alan Place

In their opening speeches, both the president of TUS, Vincent Cunnane, and the president of the Polytechnic of Leiria, Rui Pedrosa, have reinforced the idea that students hold a central role in the development and maintenance of RUN-EU.

‘This GA is the culmination of a lot of work, a culmination of a hard week, and the Student Advisory Board is central for RUN-EU cooperation and success’, said Vincent Cunnane.

Rui Pedrosa, President of the Polytechnic of Leiria, speaking at the RUN-EU General Assembly.
Rui Pedrosa • © Alan Place

Speaking to the students, Rui Pedrosa said: ‘You are in the centre of our strategy because you are the future. All of you are entering today in the history of the Regional University Network because you are the first students who participate in the Student Week. That is a unique event, not only because around 100 students participated and contributed to the future of the RUN-EU strategy through the GA, but also because you had the opportunity to participate in four Short Advanced Programmes’.

Among the speakers at the event was Olivia O’Sullivan, Deputy Mayor of Limerick City and County, who said: ‘The RUN-EU concept of European Education Area is a wonderful addition to the student life of our citizens. By enabling students to obtain a degree that combines studies in multiple EU countries, we can do our best to make the motto of the EU a reality, united in diversity. While our cultures do share some strong similarities, it is our differences that make our continent a great place to live, work and study’.

Olivia O’Sullivan, Deputy Mayor of Limerick City and County, speaking at the RUN-EU General Assembly.
Olivia O’Sullivan • © Alan Place

‘Real understanding comes from being together, laughing together, studying together, and innovating together. We can enrich the lives of students in all our regions by making the European Education Area a reality’, she added.

Nuno Rodrigues, Coordinator of RUN-EU, speaking at the RUN-EU General Assembly.
Nuno Rodrigues • © Alan Place

After two years of virtual communication, the RUN-EU Coordinator and Vice-President of Polytechnic of Leiria, Nuno Rodrigues, said: ‘Two years ago, we were here on the margins of the Shannon river, thinking about what we wanted to do with RUN-EU. A lot went on in the last year and a half. All of us were challenged on a personal and professional level, beyond what you could have imagined. But, during this week, looking at everybody faces, we’ve realised it is real and it is happening. In the last year, we had the will to be one even when we were forced to be apart and we did it’.

‘Thank you to all of you for the commitment, for believing, for sharing, for realising that, yes, we have a lot of challenges, but that most of all, RUN-EU is about the opportunities’, he added.


The next RUN-EU GA will take place in Finland, in October 2022.


Live updates from the event can be found on social media at the hashtag #RUNEUGA21.

First RUN-EU General Assembly will take place in Ireland

The first Regional University Network – European University’s (RUN-EU) General Assembly (GA) will be held in Ireland, at the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS), between 1 and 5 November. This high-level event will mark the first in-person RUN-EU meeting since the pandemic started in 2020.

The GA is a strategic governing body that acts as a senate for the alliance and as a venue for the RUN-EU Student Week. It meets once a year to discuss ways to improve cooperation between the seven higher education members and associated partners in order to achieve the goals of RUN-EU and cooperate towards the development of the associated regions.

More than an opportunity to evaluate and decide on high-level policy issues, the GA will enable students, teachers, researchers, members of staff, associated partners, and all RUN-EU rectors/presidents to come together in a unique multicultural and transdisciplinary in-person event.

TUS President, Professor Vincent Cunnane said, ‘We are extremely proud to host the inaugural RUN-EU General Assembly here at TUS. The Assembly gives us the opportunity to showcase what the Midlands and Midwest of Ireland have to offer for international stakeholders. It is certainly a win for the region to host this event, and in a year where many industries and sectors have faced major challenges, it is clear TUS’s role in the RUN-EU network will bring many new opportunities for students, research, and industry in the region, particularly for SMEs. The network has been working hard to bring this assembly to fruition and enable staff, students and stakeholders involved in RUN-EU to meet and collaborate in person. Along with our 200 guests, we have 17 European partners of RUN EU-from across industry and government organisations in attendance’.

Speaking ahead of the event, Vice-President of Research, Development and Innovation at TUS, Dr Liam Brown said, ‘We look forward to welcoming staff, students and many of our associated partners and regional government colleagues to Ireland. Included in the General Assembly will be four student-led short advanced challenge programmes, delivered during the week across the TUS campuses. RUN-EU promotes and develops joint student-centred, challenge and work-based flexible educational activities, through collaborative and innovative inter-university and interregional approaches to higher education, research and innovation generating new opportunities for industry and many other stakeholders in our regions’. 

‘We are also launching the RUN-EU+ Coordination and Support Action this week. This innovative project focuses on the development and deployment of collaborative professional practice-based research degrees in Future Industry and Sustainable Regional Development, the Bioeconomy and Social Innovation, across the RUN-EU alliance’, he continued.

For the President of the Polytechnic of Leiria, Mr Rui Pedrosa, ‘the GA will be a major opportunity for the RUN-EU higher education institutions and associated partners to reaffirm their commitment to the shared values and principles underpinning the RUN-EU mission’.

‘I am delighted that our students, teachers, staff and associated partners will be able to meet in person for the first time and celebrate all the collaborative work and all the challenges we have been through during the last year. The engagement of 15 students from each RUN-EU university in the Student Advisory Board, as well in four short advanced programmes, will be a great achievement that will increase even more the cooperation within the alliance’, added Mr Rui Pedrosa.

RUN-EU General Assembly Agenda

Monday, 1 November

8h30-9h30
Welcome Station • Athlone Main Campus Reception

9h00-17h00
Short Advanced Programmes

  • RUN-EU Sustainable Development – Social Enterprise Challenge • Thurles
  • RUN-EU Bioplastics Challenge • Athlone
  • RUN-EU Eco-Innovate Challenge • Athlone
  • RUN-EU Food Challenge • Limerick

Tuesday, 2 November

8h30-9h30
Welcome Station • Athlone Main Campus Reception

9h00-17h00
Short Advanced Programmes

  • RUN-EU Sustainable Development – Social Enterprise Challenge • Thurles
  • RUN-EU Bioplastics Challenge • Athlone
  • RUN-EU Eco-Innovate Challenge • Athlone
  • RUN-EU Food Challenge • Limerick

16h0017h30
Work Package Meetings • Athlone Main Boardroom


Wednesday, 3 November

8h30-9h30
Welcome Station • Athlone Main Campus Reception

9h0017h00
Short Advanced Programmes

  • RUN-EU Sustainable Development – Social Enterprise Challenge • Thurles
  • RUN-EU Bioplastics Challenge • Athlone
  • RUN-EU Eco-Innovate Challenge • Athlone
  • RUN-EU Food Challenge • Limerick

10h0016h00
Work Package 2 Conference • Online

10h0013h00
Management Committee Meeting • Athlone Main Boardroom

14h00-15h30
Athlone Campus Tours • Meeting Point: Athlone Campus Arena

  • Tour 1
    Arena (30 minutes)
    Engineering Building (40 minutes) – Focus on contemporary undergraduate education
  • Tour 2
    Trades (30 minutes) – Focus on applied apprenticeship education
    Materials Research Institute (40 minutes) – Focus on fundamental multidisciplinary research

Throughout the day
Work Package Meetings • Athlone Main Boardroom and Meeting Annex


Thursday, 4 November

8h30-9h30
Welcome Station • Athlone Main Campus Reception

9h00-17h00
Short Advanced Programmes

  • RUN-EU Sustainable Development – Social Enterprise Challenge • Thurles
  • RUN-EU Bioplastics Challenge • Athlone
  • RUN-EU Eco-Innovate Challenge • Athlone
  • RUN-EU Food Challenge • Limerick

9h30-16h00
Work Package 2 Conference • Online

10h0013h00
Associated Partner Reception and Athlone Campus Tours • Athlone Annex and Campus

  • Tour 1
    Applied Polymer Technologies Research Centre (1 hour) – Focus on advanced polymer manufacturing
    Arena (30 minutes)
  • Tour 2
    Trades (30 minutes) – Focus on applied apprenticeship education
    Materials Research Institute Research Hub (40 minutes) – Focus on fundamental multidisciplinary research
  • Tour 3
    Arena (30 minutes)
    Engineering Building (40 minutes) – Focus on contemporary undergraduate education

11h0013h00
Presidents, Rectors and CEO Meeting • Athlone Boardroom

12h3015h00
RUN-EU+ Kick-off Meeting • Limerick Moylish Boardroom

15h0017h00
Associated Partner Visits and Meeting

19h3023h30
Reception Gala Dinner • Strand Hotel, Limerick


Friday, 5 November

9h0011h00
Student Advisory Board Meeting • Millennium Theatre, Limerick Campus

9h0010h30
Associated Partner Advisory Board Meeting • LSAD Gallery

10h3012h30
Meeting of Associated Partners with RUN-EU Presidents, Rectors and CEO • LSAD Gallery
Campus Tour • LSAD and Moylish Campuses

13h3017h00
General Assembly • Millennium Theatre, Limerick Moylish Campus


General Assembly Meeting Agenda • Friday, 5 November

13h30
Opening Session

  • Vincent Cunnane • President of the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest
  • Rui Pedrosa • President of the Polytechnic of Leiria
  • Cllr. Olivia O’Sullivan • Deputy Mayor of Limerick City and County
  • Manuel Heitor • Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education (Virtually)
  • Nuno Rodrigues • RUN-EU Coordinator and Vice-President of the Polytechnic of Leiria

14h30
Session 1: Delivering Future and Advanced Skills

  • Summary of the achievements of the first year
  • The experience of Short Advanced Programmes
  • Launch of the Institutional FASA

15h00
Session 2: RUN-EU Discovery and the European Innovation Hubs

  • Summary of the achievements of the first year
  • Launch of the RUN-EU+ Project
  • Launch of the RUN-EU Discovery Mobility Programme

Break

15h30
Session 3: RUN-EU Challenge Programme

Presentation from students with the conclusions of the four SAPs

  • RUN-EU Sustainable Development – Social Enterprise Challenge (Thurles)
  • RUN-EU Bioplastics Challenge (Athlone)
  • RUN-EU Eco-Innovate Challenge (Athlone)
  • RUN-EU Food Challenge (Limerick)

16h10
Session 4: Advancing RUN-EU 

  • Feedback and recommendations from the RUN-EU Student Advisory Board
  • Feedback and recommendations from the RUN-EU Associated Partner Advisory Board
  • Preview of planned activities for the second year of RUN-EU

Closing Session

  • Rui Pedrosa • President of the Polytechnic of Leiria

Are you thinking about attending the event in person?

If you’re a RUN-EU staff member or student considering attending the RUN-EU General Assembly in Ireland, TUS has a couple of accommodation agreements with local hotels and has put together a few tips about travelling to/from the airport and staying in Ireland.

Several preventative measures have been put in place to ensure the health and safety of all participants during the event, according to the Irish government public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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