On 5 – 9 June 2017 an International Erasmus+ Staff Week was hosted by the International Relations Department of the Slovak University of Technology (ÚMV STU). Guests invited to this training event were representatives of international relations offices from universities based in countries participating in the Erasmus+ programme.
In total, there were 24 participants participating, coming from 11 European countries (Croatia, Finland, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Greece, Estonia and Turkey) and 2 partner countries (Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka) - partners in an Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility project.
The main aim of the training activity was to exchange information and good practice examples in the field of international relations and internationalisation of higher education institutions, experience to be implemented by participants in their home institutions.
The event was launched by an opening speech of the head of the International Relations Department, Mgr. Renáta Mezeiová. Participants were then welcomed by the vice-rector for study affairs doc. Ing. Štefan Stanko, PhD. who presented the history of the STU, fields of study at individual faculties and STU achievements in international cooperation.
The official programme was continued by the representative of the Ministry of education, science, research and sport of the SR, the head of higher education department Ing. Andrej Piovarči, PhD., who explained the internationalisation strategy of the Slovak higher education. Then followed a presentation by Mgr. Katarína Šmálová from the Slovak Academic Association for International Cooperation, the Slovak Erasmus+ National Agency, who informed the participants about the involvement of Slovakia in the Erasmus+ programme and various activities celebrating the programme’s 30th anniversary. Presentations were concluded by Ing. I. Prelovský, PhD., the STU’s Erasmus+ institutional coordinator, who presented the programme of the International Erasmus+ Staff Week in detail and invited all participants to a formal dinner organised by the STU at the Bratislava castle.
Part of the event’s programme was also a tasting of typical food and gastronomic specialties, so-called International Breakfast, that was brought by the participants from their home countries.
Following this, individual representatives of international relations offices from abroad presented their universities and activities, scholarship schemes, mobility and project work. The main aim was to present the process of building an international strategy and mobility actions under Erasmus+ in each of the participating institutions.
The professional part of the training was organised in two workshops. The first workshop was focused on the exchange of information and experience in providing information about the programme, both - to students and teachers, and various promotion forms and opportunities. The introductory presentation by Ing. P. Krajňáková explained how Erasmus+ promotion activities are organised at the STU. Afterwards participants were divided into five working groups. Each group dealt with a different Erasmus+ target group. They were assigned a task to draft a promotion material in order to increase the interest and motivation of the target groups in Erasmus+ mobility. At the end the working groups presented results of their team work to other participants. The second workshop led by Ing. I. Kimáková addressed the topic of a new mobility type – student and staff mobility between programme and partner countries outside the EU - Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility (KA107). The aim of the workshop was to exchange good practice and experience related to Erasmus+ mobility with partner countries outside the EU. Outcomes of the working groups in the workshop were summarised in a SWOT analysis – pointing out the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats of this new type of Erasmus+ mobility projects.
In the course of the event there was a visit organised to the campus of the Faculty of Materials Science and Technology in Trnava. The foreign guests were welcomed by prof. Ing. Milan Marônek, CSc., vice-dean for internal and foreign relations. They learnt about the faculty, its fields of study and international cooperation activities and they also had the chance to visit the University Science Park.
Representatives of ESN STUBA came to present activities organised for foreign students coming to the STU for Erasmus+ mobility. Several incoming and outgoing Erasmus+ students also shared their personal experience with the group.
The international staff week was closed by an award ceremony during which certificates of attendance were given to participants by the institutional coordinator Mr Prelovský and the head of the International Relations Department Ms Mezeiová. Organisers of the international event thanked to all foreign participants for the invaluable exchange of experience and good practice in the field of international relations, internationalisation of higher education institutions and organisation of Erasmus+ mobilities
Apart from the training part of the programme participants were also involved in informal activities catering for intercultural and language learning. Learning by fun was a crash course of the Slovak language led by Ms Kimáková where the participants got familiar with cultural aspects, traditions and basic phrases to be possibly useful during their stay in Slovakia. An entertaining quiz about Slovakia helped to test the participants’ knowledge acquired during the week. Interesting prizes – books about Slovakia – were offered to three foreign guests who received the highest scores within the set time limit.
In their free time the participants had a chance to join in a sightseeing tour in the capital of Bratislava, then the “small Rome” – the city of Trnava, and finally, a boat trip on the Danube river. The boat trip led to the village of Devín where the participants visited the castle ruin of Devín and learnt about its history just next to the unique confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers.
The International Relations Department staff prepared a feedback questionnaire to be used for assessing the quality of the event, its training as well as free-time activities. The participants of the International Staff Week rated the content of this 5-day event high, as well as its organisational aspects and the coordination of all accompanying activities. The ÚMV STU department plans to organise a similar event again in the future as in line with its internationalisation strategy it is a great opportunity to open the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava to international environment.