A new university
The University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) held the very first Staff Week for Erasmus+ participants last week. USN gained university status in May last year, and the staff week was an excellent way to promote our 8 campus University to all of our Erasmus+ partners, and to invite them all to visit us at a staff week.
The event took place at campus Kongsberg. To this around 60 international participants arrived in Norway, as well as many of our USN internal staff. We recommended that academic and administrative staff working within academic fields related to the campus Kongsberg fields of study and research attended, and specifically those with existing research or mobility collaborations already.
The aim of Staff Week 2019, was to establish a meeting point for researchers, administrative and academic staff to together learn more about the topic for the week: Global mindset in industry, partnership and higher education. This is in line with the overall strategy for USN, and with the aim to step closer to reaching several of the institutional goals.
What is a Staff Week?
"In the year 2007 with the launch of the Life-long Learning Programme (LLP) the European Commission started a new activity under the Erasmus programme: Erasmus staff trainings.
Erasmus staff mobility for staff training offers an opportunity to participate in different forms of training abroad, such as job shadowing (staff members from a HEI go to another HEI to work there for a certain period) or attending job-related conferences and workshops." (IMOTION)
For a full overview of staff weeks at other universitites and more insight to what a staff week is, please visit the IMOTION webpage.
"Participation in the Erasmus+ programme constitutes a cornerstone in Norwegian educational policy. The programme is essential for cooperation at all education levels and with relevant partners outside the education system. Erasmus+ also supports policy development in the field of education providing real added value through sharing best practices and by supporting initiatives that would not have been possible at individual national level without Erasmus+." (National Report on the Implementation and Impact of Erasmus+ in Norway, 2017) In this report is a detailed analysis of the benefits of Erasmus+ system for the internationalisation process of the organisations involved in Erasmus+ mobility and partnerships. It shows what the close connection between Erasmus+ partners can contribute to, of national and international goals. This staff week is one of many solutions to increasing and strengthening these kinds of connections, in a more focused and systematic way than the sometimes more random visits for exchange staff on Erasmus+ scholarships.
Global Mindset in Industry, Partnership and Higher Education
The title of this Staff Week was developed from the USN overarching strategies, as well as national and EU strategies for higher education. The ideas for what goals this week could deliver was many, the most central where these two:
Goal 1: Promote USN to Erasmus+ partners and beyond. Promotion of Norway, our locations and our academic fields. Promotion of our link to the industry and regions, as well as our international study programmes and research activities. USN's "research and academic development work is internationally competitive and is characterised by close collaboration with society and the business sector – regionally, nationally and internationally". (USN Strategy for Academic and Development Work) Through this staff week goal 1 was then not only a promotion of what we do, but also a platform to strenghten this work.
Goal 2: Ensure participation and connection to relevant staff members from partner institution that will bring along results connected to all points in USN strategies. This by creating a meeting point and "making it personal", with a training of cross-cultural competence and increased cultural awareness between all participants. For example to reach a higher number of exchange students or research proposals between our institutions, simply by learning more about each other, our various systems and requirements.
A University Staff Week would not be complete without students. Anders Elden, a current USN student and Lucy Odberg, a newly graduate student, led the seminar guests through all the days in a creative and professional way. Both as conferenciers during the seminar days, but also actively in the social events programme.
The programme was extensive, from cross-cultural communication with Pellegrino Riccardi, to input from the industry, from the research and library administration, as well as USN Partnership, to an international student's perspective to studying in Norway – with Katrina Herting.
The first day started up with sessions at USN, followed by a visit to the Technology park in Kongsberg. KONGSBERG group and Technip FMC were amongst the presenters here. The second day was three parallel sessions, and the afternoon was speedfriending by Nordic Vagabond. This was an important part of the programme, a bit out of the comfort-zone and a crucial part of getting to know the other participants, and hence improving collaborations.
The seminar participants gave USN great feedback, with very positive responses in the evaluations we have collected. Many were surprised to see the close connection between the industry and the University. Others highlighted the topic as engaging, or specific presenters as interesting, or gave positive feedback to the way it was organized. The participants made useful notes for us, as a first-timer university in organizing such a seminar. We are grateful that so many came to join a new university's first event of this kind.
Their evaluations also show that the aim of the Staff Week has been reached in many ways, as several have plans for further collaborations. This may result in reaching our strategies with this strengtened knowledge of one another. We look forward to a continued connection with and between all the international partners that were linked up at USN Staff Week 2019.