Mapping the Role of European Universities of Applied Sciences as Entrepreneurial Hubs of Regional Development

Mapping the Role of European Universities of Applied Sciences as Entrepreneurial Hubs of Regional Development

Jan Beseda, Michaela Šmídová, Vaidotas Viliūnas, Sean O'Reilly
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7456-0.ch003
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


The chapter focuses on mapping and analysing regional engagement of universities of applied sciences through an institutional self-reflection tool which is developed within the international project UASiMAP and which aims to be useful at institutional level as well as to highlight the important role of this specific area of HE activities. The tool should serve not only for immediate self-evaluation but also to inform institutional improvement and dynamics. The authors define UAS as a specific entrepreneurial hub for regional development and propose a multidimensional model for reflection of the UAS role in regional development. Opportunities, challenges, and limits of the model´s individual dimensions are discussed in two ways: firstly, as reflections of relevant literature and, secondly, using the practical experiences of project partners from different European countries as arguments for the proposed dimension(s). A strategy for assessing progress using the proposed model and criteria for indicators are presented and discussed.
Chapter Preview


The aim of this chapter is to provide a critical analysis and mapping of European Universities of Applied Sciences’ (UAS)1 regional engagement. This mapping of UAS’ regional engagement is undertaken through the Erasmus+ project ‘Mapping Regional Engagement Activities of European Universities of Applied Sciences’ (hereafter referred to as UASiMAP)2. The chapter’s core research question focuses on: how should UAS’ regional engagement be measured?

The UASiMAP project was designed to develop a self-reflection (or self-evaluation) tool which could enable UAS to measure their engagement activities and contribution to their regions, as well as their impact on the local economy, including their impact on public and private sector stakeholders. The project also sought to inform the development of strategies for further regional engagement. The key objective of the UASiMAP project is to ensure that all aspects of regional engagement are appropriately acknowledged, recognised and communicated within UAS, between UAS and among regional and national stakeholders. Although UAS are frequently perceived as having lower prestige compared to traditional/research-intensive universities and, as a consequence, are often undervalued (Pabian, 2010; Delplace, 2013), the role of UAS in the (higher) education sector is important, especially in relation to regional development (Karlsen et al, 2017). In this chapter, the authors will demonstrate that innovative capacity and the development of regional human capital are not the sole contributions to be monitored with regard to UAS.

The remainder of this chapter is organised as follows: firstly, we define and discuss the role of UAS, which could be understood as developing the entrepreneurial hub of regional development. The proposed UASiMAP model is then described. This model represents the theoretical framework for the creation of the UASiMAP self-evaluation tool, acknowledging that regional engagement goes beyond entrepreneurship and innovation.

The chapter explains the relevant dimensions of regional engagement in order to provide the foundation for creating appropriate indicators to record UAS’ involvement in regional development in several European countries (Belgium (FL), Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, and Portugal). Finally, the rationale for using these indicators is outlined, and commentary is provided on their limits and benefits. The consideration of common indicators used to measure research prompts reflection on how effectively these apply to the distinctive nature of research undertaken by UAS. The UASiMAP team plans to develop new indicators, where necessary, to measure the distinct nature of UAS’ regional engagement. In developing their model, the authors acknowledge that the UASiMAP self-reflection tool ought to be valuable to other types of institutions beyond UAS, and should be capable of supporting reflective discussions with regional stakeholders, such as other public sector organisations and enterprise.


Background Context: Universities Of Applied Sciences And Regional Development

The regional engagement of higher education institutions (HEIs) has been an important topic that has been researched extensively, culminating in a wide range of academic literature. Much of the research on HEIs’ regional role has focused on research-intensive universities. However, some authors also emphasize the need for a more prominent role for professional higher education (PHE) institutions in the development of regions (e.g. Foray et al., 2012; Hazelkorn & Edwards, 2019; Tijssen et al., 2021), and advocate for UAS’ involvement in the development of regional strategies (Foray et al., 2012, etc.).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Reflection: Self-reflection is a conscious process through which a HEI learns from previous actions and experience, ideally in a collaborative process with stakeholders. In certain countries, the terms ‘self-evaluation’ or ‘self-assessment’ are used.

Regional Engagement: Constitutes an important, integral part of the mission of institutions of professional higher education through which they serve people and communities within their respective region.

RIS3: Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3) is a term that refers to the productive/entrepreneurial focus of a region, on potentially competitive areas and generators of development within a global context.

User-Inspired Research: Research focused on improving the work and experience of users. It is typical of research undertaken by UAS.

Self-Reflection Tool: The tool for navigating and structuring the self-reflection process.

Entrepreneurship: An active transformation of ideas to the value of others in a cultural, economic, environmental, and social context.

University of Applied Sciences: A University of Applied Science (UAS) is a professionally-oriented higher education institution. It provides study programmes closely connected with the world of work and with user-oriented research.

Smart Specialization strategy: The national or regional strategy focused on innovation, matching research, and knowledge capacity with the needs of national or regional actors. It aims to create synergies between cooperation actors from different sectors – public, education, business, and civic.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: