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Global Signals 1/2021
Ulysseus kicks off a new era in European higher education

Ulysseus is an alliance of Haaga-Helia and five other forward-looking universities. Eventually Ulysseus will be a new European University of 180,000 students, teachers, researchers and other staff.


Published : 09.04.2021

All university alliances have something that ties them together, be it fields of study or teaching methods. For Ulysseus European University, the adhesive element is the new ecosystem of Innovation Hubs, with a development theme assigned to each university (see the list below).

“The Innovation Hubs are competence clusters that will develop the capabilities within their areas in Europe. Also, joint Master’s and PhD degrees and research will be built around the Hub themes,” Kitte Marttinen, Ulysseus Project Director in Haaga-Helia, explains.

Haaga-Helia will develop an Artificial Intelligence Hub that links AI expertise to EU research proposals and provides new opportunities for students, teachers, researchers and companies.

“The Hub will also boost industryuniversity collaboration, such as Living Labs and spin-off Incubators, and create innovative tools and pedagogical solutions for Haaga-Helia courses.”

The basic foundation for new opportunities 

For the next three years, the Ulysseus project will focus on essential building blocks, including joint structures, a governance system, programme pilots, degrees and research projects.

Ulysseus will create study modules and courses in each partner university. They will be accessible for all students and give all staff members new mobility opportunities once the pandemic subsides. Interaction within the community will be facilitated by a digital platform.

Ulysseus students will be able to do double or joint degrees related to the Innovation Hub themes. Microcredentials and MOOCs as well as open class courses for citizens will also be available.

Educational impact on European competitiveness

Bridging the competence gap is one of the key goals of the European Union education policy.

“The policy and projects are geared towards developing competences at every level of education. In turn, this will boost competitiveness and economy. There is a strong belief that education can have a big societal impact.”

In Ulysseus, Haaga-Helia is in charge of developing the means, such as courses and studies, for students, academics and other staff to acquire the competences for the work life of the future.

Ulysseus defines the future European citizen as a multilingual person highly skilled in digitalisation and entrepreneurship. The university does not forget high-risk students either: a special needs program will be developed and life-long learning supported at every stage. Moreover, Haaga-Helia will provide pedagogical guidelines for Ulysseus.

Unprecedented opportunities for students, staff and R&D

Kitte Marttinen believes that Ulysseus European University will open up a tremendous vista of new opportunities.

“Ulysseus will add value, content and international dimensions for students and teachers. It will also establish networks around research groups and European projects, such as Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe, which provide new opportunities for R&D.”

Ulysseys is still on its early stages – the first concrete actions will emerge in 2022 and 2023.

“The Ulysseus strategy extends to 2030, when we will look ahead again and decide how to proceed. This is not just a three year project but a long, strategic process to establish a new European University.”

Ulysseus European University and Innovation Hubs

Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences (Finland)  

Artificial Intelligence 

Technical University of Košice (Slovakia) 


MCI | The Entrepreneurial School (Austria) 

Food, biotechnology and circular economy 

University of Genoa (Italy) 

Tourism, arts and heritage 

University of Cote D’Azur (France) 
Ageing and wellbeing 

University of Sevilla (Spain)  

Energy, transport, mobility and Smart Cities 

TEXT Harri Palomäki