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The HEIComp project puts Laurea's LbD expertise into practice in Latin America

The kick-off meeting for the Laurea-coordinated project was held in Finland.

Project partners in a group photo at Laurea Tikkurila campus.

The HEIComp project (Bridging the Gap between Student Competences and Working Life Needs) coordinated by Laurea was launched at the start of the year. The aim of the project is to develop the education provided by higher education institutions in Brazil and Paraguay to better meet the needs of working life and thus promote the employment of the students. The key approach applied to the project is Laurea’s Learning by Developing (LbD) model. 

The project is funded by the Erasmus+ Capacity Building programme and also involves partner institutions from Portugal and Romania. Five higher education institutions from Brazil and Paraguay participate in the project, as well as a Brazilian company specialised in promoting the internationalisation of higher education institutions. 

The HEIComp project aims to develop a learning model suitable for higher education institutions that would integrate the studies more closely with working life. In the student-centric model, the students will carry out genuine work assignments in the course of their studies. The model applied is the LbD model. 

Becoming familiar with the Learning by Developing model through practical work

The project’s three-day kick-off event was held in Finland in February. The first meeting at Laurea gave the participants an excellent opportunity to become familiar with the LbD model from the perspective of Laurea's teachers, students and partners alike. 

Vice-Director Guilherme A. Barucke Marcondes from the Brazilian Instituto Nacional de Telecomunicações participated in the meeting at Laurea and was excited about this first hands-on encounter with the LbD model: 

- Laurea’s model is very innovative, it is just the kind of approach we wish to apply to our own teaching, Mr Barucke Marcondes said at the end of their Laurea visit.

- In our higher education institution, too, learning takes place largely through projects, but integrating external employers with the studies is something that we can definitely develop on the basis of this experience. 

In the project, Laurea will first provide the teachers of the partner institutions training on how to apply the working life-based education model into education. Then, the model will be piloted in study units at each higher education institution. 

- I have noticed that Finnish teaching methods are very different to ours, which is why it is interesting to see how the model can be put into practice in our institution. But I do look forward to the pilot, and believe that we will succeed in finding a teaching method that is best suitable for us, says Ms Susana Lugo Rolon of Universidad Nacional de Itapúa from Paraguay.

"In the LbD model, the teacher takes on a coaching role"

In addition to developing the education, one of the objectives of the project is to develop the role of the teacher. In Laurea's Learning by Developing model, the teacher's role is closer to that of a coach than that of a lecturer. 

- The HEIComp project also aims at influencing the interaction between higher education teachers, students, and working life partners in combining working life assignments and learning. This is where the teacher's role as a guide and a coach and the student-centric approach of Laurea’s LbD model become front and centre, says Laurea’s Project Coordinator Tero Uusitalo.

Laurea is responsible for providing the training required for the implementation of the project, which entails practical training on how to find working life partners, how to design the course implementation plans, and how to implement the courses. In practice, Laurea's expert lecturers will coach their Brazilian and Paraguayan colleagues in regular virtual meetings during the implementation of the working life assignments and courses, starting in autumn 2023. Before the autumn, the teachers will complete Laurea's virtual course on the LbD method. In addition, the training includes virtual training sessions as well as a face-to-face training session for the teachers of the partner institutions, organised in May in Varginha, Brazil.


HEIComp partners: Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Polytechnic of Porto (IPP, Portugal), Transylvania University of BraČ™ov (UniTBv, Romania), Vale do Gorutuba University (FAVAG, Brazil), National Telecommunications Institute (INATEL, Brazil), University Center of Southern Minas Gerais (UNIS, Brazil), U.Experience Consultancy, Lectures & Training (U.Experience, Brazil), University of Encarnación (UNAE, Paraguay) and National University of Itapua (UNI, Paraguay).


(Update April 26th 2023:) HEIComp project website has in now online. Visit and learn more about the project. 

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