Make a real impact: join spring semester challenges

For the spring semester 2021, we invite students to join multidisciplinary and international teams at the ECIU University and solve challenges, provided by business and societal partners across Europe. You will have an opportunity to tackle local, national and global problems with a challenge-based approach.

The spring semester is powered by the ECIU University, an initiative of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU alliance) that creates a ground-breaking and innovative educational model on a European scale. ECIU University uses challenge-based learning (CBL) in order to offer an alternative pathway to education through solving real-life challenges bringing together learners, researchers, industries, public authorities and various actors.


Why participate in ECIU University challenges

Make a real impact. The ECIU University challenges are the ones that communities and organisations face at this very moment. Working with them will give you “first-hand” experience and possibility to contribute to real societal change.

Contribute to more sustainable communities. The ECIU University challenges evolve around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal no. 11 “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. By collaborating at local, national and international levels, you help to solve these complex challenges and make society futureproof.

Follow your own learning path. You will gain unique experiences and develop professional and personal skills, like problem-solving and team-work competences, the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary and international team and learn inter-cultural competences. The ECIU University connects 12 universities from 12 different European countries.

Challenge yourself by a new way of learning. In the challenge-based approach, you will work together with teachers, government, experts, business, companies and societal organisations. In addition to this, you may choose from a variety of micro-modules which can support you to better solve the challenge.


Explore challenges and micro-modules



  1. The challenge is provided by a city, region or business stakeholder and is entered onto the ECIU University Challenge Platform.
  2. The student explores the challenges and registers to the one he/she finds relevant.
  3. The team is formed from registered participants and the team facilitator (teamcher) is assigned.
  4. The team works with the challenge provider, engages and investigates the challenge, and proposes solutions using the challenge-based learning methodology.
  5. During the process, the team can select relevant micro-modules from ECIU member universities that help them gain additional knowledge or skills that are needed to solve the challenge.
  6. At the end of the process, the student can achieve a certain amount of academic credits, or a certificate that will record his/her new skills gained during the challenge-learning process.
  7. Finally, the teams deliver their outputs which may include services, products, research questions, start-ups and spin-offs.

Students select one of the ECIU University challenges as an extra-curricular activity – not a part of the degree programme but as extra benefit. The ECTS credits awarded may be recognised at athe home university and included into the graduate’s diploma supplement.

Students who meet the following entry requirements are welcomed to participate in the spring semester:

  • studying at one of the 12 ECIU University member institutions;
  • enrolled in a master’s degree programme or 3rd or 4th year of a bachelor’s degree programme;
  • completed 120 ECTS of higher education studies at undergraduate level;
  • B2 level in English language proficiency (self-assessment, CEFR of languages);
  • eligible according to pre-requisites of a challenge (if indicated);
  • optional – experience with entrepreneurial work.

Participation for students studying at one of the 12 ECIU University member institutions is free of charge.

When solving the challenge, participants work in multi-disciplinary and international teams, bringing students from different locations. The international dimension is assured by virtual mobility (students join team meetings and lectures online).

The team is assigned the University teamcher who delivers the necessary theoretical background for solving the challenge, provides assistance and guidance when needed, and facilitates communication with the challenge provider.

The team works with the challenge provider, engages and investigates the challenge, and proposes solutions using the challenge-based learning methodology.

The outputs of the team may include services, products, research questions, start-ups and spin-offs.

The ECIU university challenges consist of 1-6 ECTS credits.

The challenges coordinated by KTU consist of 3 ECTS credits (80 academic hours). It is recommended for the students to select additional micro-module which consists of 6 ECTS credits (160 academic hours). In total, the ECIU University spring semester will consist of 9 ECTS credits.

During the semester, students will have lectures, workshops, group and individual work. Students will have scheduled meetings with the teamcher from 1 February 2021 to 31 May 2021, during weekdays (once or twice a week) in the afternoon. Student teams are flexible to plan the rest of their working time.

The ECIU University’s challenge-based learning approach follows a specific structure consisting of three main steps: engage, investigate and act.


Engagement: The basis for motivation is to be working on a ‘Big Idea’. This might be anything within a social, economic, or environmental theme such as health or public transportation. All the participants, teachers, students and external partners make sure that they agree on the final challenge to work on.


Investigation: All the team need to ensure that they all understand the challenge and can contribute towards solving it with their knowledge and skills.


Action: partners can use their shared knowledge to design and prototype new solutions. The implementation of the prototype and the evaluation are steps in the action part.

Due to the current pandemic situation student teams are working together in a digital environment and all activities take place online.

Virtual learning environment Moodle is used for student-teacher communication and content delivery of the challenge and the micro-module. Microsoft Teams or Zoom is used for video conferencing.

Student teams are free to decide which other online tools they want to use to increase collaboration with their peers.

Upon successful completion of the challenge and the micro-module the student is awarded with respective ECTS credits and the academic transcript of records which includes details on workload and the final mark.

The challenges and the micro-modules are offered primarily as an extracurricular activity. However, the credits acquired are subject for recognition and approval by the respective home universities.

KTU students who complete the challenges at ECIU member universities will have the credits automatically recognised at their KTU degree programme and included into the diploma supplement as additional credits.



Students who are interested in engaging into the challenge follow these steps:

  1. Sign up to the ECIU University Challenge Platform.
  2. Explore the challenges.
  3. Register to the challenge he/she finds relevant. When registering, the student has to unload the following documentation: transcript of records from the home university, CV, letter of motivation.
  4. Receive information from the University coordinating the challenge on the process regarding selection of applicants and the result of his/her application.

Students enrolled at ECIU University member institutions do not pay a participation fee.

After submition of applications, the Admissions Committee will decide upon the applicant’s eligibility to enrol in the preferred challenge.

The evaluation criteria:

  1. Transcript of records assessment: studies at one of the 12 ECIU University member institutions, enrolment in a master’s degree programme or 3rd or 4th year of a bachelor’s degree programme; completed 120 ECTS of higher education studies at undergraduate level.
  2. CV assessment: extra-curricular activities and engagement in student community, previous job experience, participation in hackathons or similar entrepreneurial events or challenges.
  3. Motivation letter assessment: personal motivation to join the challenge, attitude towards experimenting and trying out new educational models, previous experience.
  4. Additional competence assessment: if indicated, eligibility according to the specific challenge requirements.

After the decision is made, all applicants will be contacted by email. The admitted applicants will be informed about the further procedures of enrolment. A student will have to sign a contract on virtual mobility, and join the challenge and micro-module in the vitual learning environment.

Upon the enrolment at the challenge, student teams are formed and the student undertakes to complete the challenge and the micro-module.

The main deadlines for the enrolment procedures:

  1. Submition of applications until 31 December 2020 or 17 January 2021. The concrete date is indicated in the challenge description.
  2. Formal eligibility check, screening against admission criteria, and placement in teams until 10 January 2021.
  3. Notification of admission and team preparation until 15 January 2021.
  4. Enrolment of the admitted students until 25 January 2021.
  5. Start of the spring semester – 1 February 2021.
  6. End of the spring semester – 31 May 2021.


Frequently asked questions regarding the application, content and schedule of the semester here.

For general questions about the participation and enrolment, please email

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