By Mike Hughes, Evening Gazette 
Leading academics from both sides of the Atlantic have started work in Teesside on a major international project to bridge the gap between universities and the creative industries.
The seven-strong team had their first business meeting at Teesside University’s Institute of Digital Innovation, which has been asked to co-ordinate the two year £140,000 project for the European Union and US government.
Dr James TerKeurst, Director of Institute of Digital Innovation (IDI), said Teesside was chosen to lead the project because of its reputation as a leader in fields such as visualisation and the success of its DigitalCity initiative which has helped graduates launch over 100 new digital companies.
“We want to achieve a better alignment between skills developed at university and what the industry needs in Europe and North America.
“We’re in a global business environment and we are also keen to learn from the best practice in countries like Japan, Korea, Australia and Canada”, he said.
Dan Berkowitz, Professor and Associate Dean at the University of Iowa, said: “We’re trying to make policy recommendations about how the digital creative industries and higher education can communicate better with each other.
“This project provides the opportunity to improve the education of students and ensure that graduates are well equipped for the rapidly changing industry they will be entering.”
The two-year Atlantis programme is funded by the EU and the US Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and will see Teesside University work with colleagues from Gavle University in Sweden and the University of Iowa and University of South Carolina in the USA.
The findings from the Atlantis project will be delivered to the US Senate and the European Commission’s Culture and Education Directorate General to help inform policy development in educational partnerships with the creative industries and make students more employable.
Doug Fisher, Senior Instructor in Electronic and Print Journalism at the University of South Carolina, said: “We’re not necessarily preparing students for jobs in big media organisations because they just as likely to be creating their own enterprise when they leave us.”
He says there are significant differences between higher education in the US and the European model which is more state driven, adding: “One size is not necessarily going to fit all.”
Totte Jonsson, Programme Leader of Creative Computer Graphics at Hogskolan Gavle in Sweden, said: “We’re working with Special Effects and 3-D Animation and this sector is developing very rapidly and higher education is often playing ‘catch up’ in terms of the equipment it is using and the competence of teachers.
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