The overarching aim of the EURYDICE Project is to increase students’ employability in the field of renewable energies, on the basis of closer collaboration between universities and industry.
Industry often expresses concern that graduates lack practical/applied experience, and that it therefore takes a long time to get young starters to perform as required. This lack of practical experience is found at all levels of the education system in South Africa, namely vocational training; and diploma, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree studies.
Hence, in principal, this problem exists in all areas of (higher) Engineering education. The EURYDICE Project focuses on the field of renewable energies, for several reasons.
DEFICIENCIES TO BE ADDRESSED
To achieve this, concrete deficiencies have been identified, and will be addressed within the project by means of:
- Closing the gap between Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college and diploma studies by defining the industrial experience requirements for university of technology (UoT) diploma students, resulting in the increased preparedness and study ability of diploma students at UoTs such as the Central University of Technology, Free (CUT); Durban University of Technology (DUT); and Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). Therefore, industrial stakeholders will be identified and involved in the process. The project will develop an “Industrial Portal” as a working tool for industry, offering industrial placement to students searching for industrial placements. Minimum industrial experience requirements for bachelor’s degree students will be defined by UoTs, and discussed with industry. The developed “Industrial Portal” will also be used to match industrial offerings and students searching for placements.
- Increasing industrial experience in bachelor’s degree education at UoTs by integrating practical experience into the curriculum. As more time is required to fully integrate this into universities’ curricula in a formal manner, enhancements will be documented as proposals for individual UoTs during the lifespan of the project. The relevant UoT can then make intermediate use of the recommendations for students. The closer collaboration between universities and industry automatically brings university staff closer to industry experts. It is expected that real-world case studies will then be integrated into the lectures, as well as into practical laboratory experiments, without any formal curriculum changes.
- Increasing industry cooperation in postgraduate education. “OpenLabs” and “MobileLabs” will be developed within the project, for industry to bring industrial problems into the labs, to be solved by students. The three European universities within the project consortium are already collaborating closely within the Danube Universities Network, particularly in the field of renewable energies, and have already successfully finalised many different projects in this area of research and education.
- Delivering workshops and summer schools at all of the participating institutions during the entire lifespan of the project, guaranteeing that best practice is used to define and implement the measures that are being used; that the input of all relevant stakeholders (i.e. South African students) is considered; and that capacity building in South Africa is realised.