After eighteen months of cooperation, partners from Hungary and Croatia met on 17 March 2022 to present the results of the project Intensive Courses for Higher Education Students (IC4HEDS). The event took place in the multimedia classroom at Technology Innovation Centre Medimurje LTD.
The project team is composed of two higher education institutions, Faculty of Organization and Informatics, University of Zagreb (FOI) and the University of Pannonia in Nagykanizsa (UP) and two business support organizations, Technology Innovation Centre Medimurje (TICM) in the role of lead partner and Business incubator from Nagykanizsa (NKVG). The project is co-financed through second call for proposals of the INTERREG V-A Hungary-Croatia cross-border cooperation Programme with 180.029,95 EUR of EU contribution.
The project addresses the challenges in the higher education system by enhancing the role of higher education institutions and connecting them with the business sector and business support organizations.
The main results are two intensive learning courses – the course about digital transformation at FOI and the course about industry 4.0 at UP. In addition to that, more than a dozen workshops have been organized about digital marketing, career development and other topics beneficial to students and their careers. Workshops have been led by successful individuals from the business community. Four study trips to a cross border area have been organized for students, which included visits to numerous institutions relevant to the economic and cultural development of the area. Around fifty students participated in the programmes. The project has been finalized with the study trip of the project staff to the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava.
Head of the Medimurje County Matija Posavec welcomed the conference participants and said a couple of words about the importance of the project:
Medimurje has been investing heavily into education for a long time and that is paving the way for our long-term success. This approach has very recently been proved sound by none other than Financial Times which has awarded our county an international fDi (fDi – foreign direct investment) award. This means that Medimurje has been declared as a European region of the future. Investing in the educational infrastructure is really important for us because it is one of the preconditions for key educational activities – knowledge transfer and acquiring new skills that will make Medimurje county denizens stand out from many other regions. Since without technical knowledge there can be no modern and competitive economy, we have decided to make STEM projects aimed at children of strategic importance in Medimurje. Centre of competence in engineering and Development and Educational Centre for the Metal Industry – Metal Centre Čakovec are the best examples of such projects. In addition to that, our institutions, mainly REDEA and TICM are working hard on preparing new projects that will complement the educational picture that we are painting here. IC4HEDS project that TICM has prepared is founded on our strong ties with our Hungarian neighbours. This co-operation has resulted in two courses focused on topics of high relevance for our economy – digital transformation and industry 4.0. With the Faculty of Organisation and Informatics from Varaždin and the University of Pannonia from Nagykanizsa included in the partnership, the project has definitely resulted in a higher quality of education in the region. Let this be the best practice example we are trying to transfer to the broader region.
Nina Begičević Ređep, dean at Faculty of Organization and Informatics, University of Zagreb said:
This project was of great importance for FOI’s internationalization process. I would like to thank all the partners for their hard work. This project has also been very important for over fifty students who had the chance to strengthen their competencies and for the exchange of knowledge between universities, enterprises and business incubators. I hope there will be similar cooperation in the future.
Ivan Plačko, director of TICM, lead partner, said about the project:
We have been implementing projects focused on business development and raising the quality of education with partners from Hungary and Croatia for over a decade. The IC4HEDS project brought together two higher education institutions and two business support organizations, with TICM as the lead partner. The project gave us the opportunity to strengthen the cross-border ties and enabled the students to gain the knowledge they can’t always get through formal education.
Experts from the faculties have met their cross-border colleagues and they started working together on the development of two elective courses – Faculty of organization and informatics in Varaždin ran a course about digital transformation, and the University of Pannonia ran a course about industry 4.0. The programmes were conceived as intensive two-week courses, a combination of modern online and classic onsite classes. Students who finished the courses successfully have received 2 ECTS points for each course. To complement their knowledge with real examples from successful business people, TICM and Business incubator from Nagykanizsa organized more than a dozen workshops covering various topics from different areas of expertise, from digital marketing to career management. Workshops better prepared students for the labour market. The project is soon coming to an end, but we already have plans for the future to further strengthen our cross-border cooperation.
The most active students shared their experience of participating in the project. Patricija Ivanić, a student from FOI said: By participating in all the project activities, I gained the experience that will be very useful in the future. These kinds of projects and opportunities are very important for students, among others, to decide which area of expertise they want to work in.
Martin Bertok, a student from the University of Pannonia in Nagykanizsa said: Improving the language skills, learning about digital transformation and industry 4.0 and meeting colleagues from Croatia are the most important benefits I received from participating in the project.
We hope that this project, so successful in strengthening the cross-border cooperation and raising the higher education quality, will encourage more similar initiatives because knowledge and cooperation are the basis for economic and cultural development.
This article has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The content of the document is the sole responsibility of Technology innovation centre Međimurje Ltd. and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union and/or the Managing Authority.