Faces of UAS4EUROPE: Marjolijn Brussaard, Prof. Em.
Marjolijn Brussaard is Chair of UAS4EUROPE since 1 June 2022 and board member of Vereniging Hogescholen (NL). Together with Dr. Heidi Fagerholm (ARENE, FI), she will lead the network over the coming two years until May 2024.
In this first edition of “Faces of UAS4EUROPE”, we asked her three questions on UAS4EUROPE and practice-based research.
What are your main priorities for your tenure as UAS4EUROPE’s Chairwoman until 2024?
Given the timeframe I would say chair – not chairwoman. It feels a bit odd and out of date to be nominated by sex in my title. For me it also indicates change in time which allows and gives us an assignment to rethink our values and goals. I am thinking of the SDG agenda, the urgency to take better care of nature and our planet, the rebalancing of power across the world and the polarisation in debates. For me core and central should be how can we, how can I contribute to a better world and society for all. I am very aware that my generation is responsible for the situation the world is in in so many respects. How do I explain to my grandchildren that we lost sight of what is truly important in life, nature and society? ‘Granny was busy being a workaholic’ or being ‘Miss Important’ is not the answer I would like to give. So my drive is personal.
As a president of a University I aim to work with students and staff as a community. I have proclaimed our current strategic plan as the years for unsettling questions. On governance, on equality and equity rethinking what is needed to have a socially safe environment.
Contributing through research and education and to equip the next generation with the attributes for a critical thinking and problem-solving academic and life skills to build a better future. So my drive is professional.
As president of UAS4EUROPE, my main focus for the next two years is to promote and lobby for the position of UAS and practice-based research. My aim is that at the end of this presidency, UAS4EUROPE is the ‘GO TO’ in Europe for practice-based research and innovation. The partnerships between and with UAS will rise significantly, so will the percentage of granted subsidies to UAS. We hope to grow the network with new partner associations in Europe. So my drive is ambitious.
There are already numerous university and higher education associations. Where do you see the added value of UAS4EUROPE?
The added value of this association is that we are a unique collective of practice-based research and entrepreneurship for the EU and for partners in Europe that can contribute to regional development since we are strongly embedded in our regions. We are a large association with a track record in successful practice-based research and innovation. Finally, due to our regional position and applied research, our impact is visible and felt by the public and industry. This gives us a unique position to build upon.
What fascinates you in practice-based research?
Since the Bologna declaration I was fascinated by how the politecnics, now UAS, have positioned themselves and how the UAS were positioned by others and how that has developed over the last decades. The position of research in UAS, formally education-only institutes, to becoming knowledge ecosystems has developed rapidly. We at UAS are sticking to the core of our strengths in working closely for the needs of society and industry and hence as a motor for innovation. And with the entry of the notion of wicked problems and global challenges, our qualities and attributes, our students’ population and research potential grew constantly.
We position practice-based research next to academic research, a collaboration that benefits society, innovation and industry.
There are also distinct differences that make us strong in Europe. Although with, on average, low investment in practice-based research both by governments and funding organisations, we are aiming for a strong visible and tangible impact track record that deserves investment. We are the motor of innovation both for industry and for society. It fascinates me how we step out of the shadow into the light and make ourselves heard and seen.