Engaged University of the Year Award

University of Rijeka

Finalist of the Engaged University of the Year Award

"The University that Expands the New Horizons"

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University of Rijeka is open and modern comprehensive European University that extends beyond the walls of institutions, research disciplines, and borders; one that continuously expands the horizons of sustainable development and development of competitive innovation ecosystems, and one that enhances all citizens’ quality of life and work while advancing the community’s resilience and well-being in cooperation with local and regional government. To fulfil the mission of engaged university, UNIRI strive to improve four strategic areas: learning and teaching, research, knowledge transfer and internalization. University of Rijeka's engagement is embedded into its curriculum, across all disciplines through community – based learning for students. University Senate Charter on Formal Recognition of Students’ Competences Gained Through Community-Based Engagement ordains the university constituents to redesign their study programmes and to secure that students’ competences gained through various community engagement activities can be valued by ECTS points (5 – 10% of the regular study programme). UNIRI sees itself as a research, science, and education-oriented university that supports social and economic development in the local community, the City of Rijeka, and the wider region. In the terms of the impact, UNIRI initiated development of the curriculum School and community, educational programme for high schools whose goal is to educate students for democratic civic participation in society. UNIRI leadership understand the own responsible role in promoting societal and community engagement and with this understanding UNIRI already made a multifaceted contribution towards achieving SDGs and improving the well-being of society as a whole and it is ranked on THE Impact Rankings.

Key People

Prof. Snježana Prijić Samaržija
University of Rijeka

Dr Bojana Ćulum – Ilić, Associate Professor
Head of The University of Rijeka Foundation
The University of Rijeka Foundation,  University of Rijeka

Dr Sanja Bojanić, Associate professor
Executive Director
Center for Advanced studies,  University of Rijeka

Prof. Senka Maćesić
Vice – rector for digitalization and development
University of Rijeka


Behind the development and building of a socially responsible university are dedicated academic and non-academic staff, students, and community members whose genuine commitment we admire and recognize. Universities are places made up of people, students, and staff who research, learn, and teach, who lead and serve the university and society, and without their participation, we wouldn't be able to fulfill our potential as a community-engaged university.


MOISE palace_public lecture

European Capital of culture

Rector's awards for the best student volunteer

UNIRI's Gender equality plan

University of the third age_lecuture


"My place under the sun"

The agreement for the project "Smart city Kastav"


The Curriculum "School and Community"

My place under the sun


Impacting lifes

In the city of Rijeka, about 500 children live in poverty. Urban poverty is becoming an increasingly pronounced and complex problem in our society and requires cooperation of various stakeholders for solving it. My Place Under the Sun is a project focused on solving the problem of child poverty, cooperating with civil society organisations, public institutions, local authorities, the private sector and citizens. UNIRI has recognised the need and the possibility of a better and more efficient management and use model for part of its real estate in Rijeka, which is given to a non-profit civil society organization for long-term use for the implementation of the My Place Under the Sun program. After the adaptation of the space, 55 children and 33 families have a stimulating environment to participate in activities that their parents cannot provide (learning assistance, creative workshops, sustainable development workshops, excursions, visits to museums, theatres, cinemas, exhibitions). This is a significant and important civil society initiative that deserves the support of all stakeholders, in order to contribute at least a little to make these children happy, or at least happier. In addition, professional psychosocial support is constantly available to the children and parents to help them overcome their difficulties, and professional support is provided by students and staff of the Faculty of Teacher Education at the University of Rijeka. Special attention is paid to the social inclusion of children and their families and the development of trust, understanding and respect, without which no person should be disadvantaged.


Lessons learned

University’s leadership is crucial for ensuring that community engagement becomes embedded within the university, rather than remaining a collection of uncoordinated activities. Our community engagement started from our conviction and then gained its own life in the community. UNIRI initiated development of curriculum “School and Community”, which was piloted in one of Rijeka’s high schools. Students decided to work on the problem of homelessness and received a UNICEF award. The value of curriculum was recognized in other high schools in Rijeka, but also in Zagreb, and the curriculum will be implemented in more than 50 high schools. As a part of the SPEAR project, UNIRI became first academic institution in the country and region that implemented measures of equality in the domain of gender rights and politics, and UNIRI Gender equality plan (GEP) became the inspiration to many other Croatian and European institutions for creating their own gender-aware policies. UNIRI made a multifaceted contribution towards achieving SDGs and the well-being of society and that contribution was recognized: UNIRI is ranked between 301 – 400th place on THE Impact Rankings 2022. UNIRI is a proud member of the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) alliance - a strategic partnership that aims at bringing a radical change in European higher education by establishing itself as leading model of a young, student-centered, non-elitist, and inclusive European University, creating a unique ecosystem linking universities to communities. Therefore, while our community engagement is growing, the community and UNIRI are growing also.


What's coming?

In future, UNIRI will continue to work with civil society, local government and community on democratization processes and social engagement. UNIRI already supported its Center for Peace and Conflict Studies that promote inter-religious dialogue as well as the Center for Smart and Sustainable Cities that signed agreements with several local governments related to an innovative programme of socially affordable housing. We will support the pilot phase of that programme with expertise and new partnerships. University is partner within Maritime Innovation Claster with important industry stakeholders and through that cluster plans to contribute to the new phase of maritime industry development in Primorsko-goranska county. UNIRI has a new Climate Action Statement and the strategic project of green transition with Students Union titled as ‘Green and resilient Campus” that proves committed to the UN SDG-a and European Green Deal. In order to achieve that, we are creating new partnerships in the local community and urban agglomeration of the city of Rijeka. One of the first partnerships is with local heat plant company in an EU founded project of complete heat plant modernization. Our experts from DeltaLab - Center for Urban Transition, Architecture and Urbanism created new vision of our university campus, and we plan to transform it into a resilient space filled with content relevant for students and citizens. UNIRI leadership strongly believes that universities must be fully responsible towards the community, both in teaching and research, so we will never stop being dedicated and engaged.



of total number of UNIRI students are volunteering.


of active collaborations with the community.


University Centers for Research and Development


Science Outreach activities per year

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