A great start to the EAIE Academy in Porto

A great start to the EAIE Academy in Porto

The third EAIE Academy is in full swing here at University Fernando Pessoa in Porto. It started on Monday, 19 November, and will last for five days, featuring 11 intensive practical courses and a series of truly dynamic networking events. Having brought together more than 150 higher education professionals from over 20 countries, this season’s training programme is the most successful to date. Since it was launched in the autumn of 2011, the EAIE Academy has shown a growth of more than 50%.

The Academy in Porto is dedicated to some of the hottest topics in international higher education. In addition to courses on advising international students, office management, internationalisation at home, international student recruitment, alumni relations, foreign credential evaluation, intercultural competences and master degree admissions, the programme introduces three brand new courses on strategic international planning, educational credentials from Asian countries and website optimisation. Thought leaders from more than 10 countries are passing on valuable knowledge and advice and are assisting participants in developing step-by-step plans, ready to be implemented back at their institutions.

Positive feedback

During the course ‘How to overcome the challenges of foreign credential evaluation’, participants received a lot of tips on how to assess credentials from a variety of countries (eg Cameroon, Nigeria, Ethiopia etc) and identify forged documents. They were advised on what tools and websites to use in order to verify the validity of the documents. Catrine Waage, a participant attending from the University of Bergen commented: ‘I’m very pleased with the Academy. This course is exactly what I needed. We’re learning how to evaluate credentials from specific countries; from countries with credentials that are more difficult to assess in general. We’ve been doing group exercises and got to work with hands-on cases. As this type of work is seasonal, I haven’t got the chance to go really in-depth in this area until now, so this is a great opportunity.

The course ‘Advising international students’ addressed a series of tools and models that can be applied in order to effectively communicate with international students. Among others, the Pyramid Model of Intercultural Competence (Deardorff, 2006. 2009) and the OSEE tool (Observe, State objectively, Explore alternate explanations and Evaluate the most likely explanation) were discussed and participants applied them to their own contexts and shared examples. ‘The most important thing is that you get to share experiences. Beyond the theory, I’m also learning from examples, from what others have experienced.’ Sandra Bernardo, University Fernando Pessoa

The course ‘Managing an international office today’ covered a wide range of topics from budget (responsibilities, expenditures, resources etc) to the ‘core quadrant game’, used for effective communication in the office, and peer consulting – a number of participants presented case studies and the rest analysed them and provided feedback and advice.

The ‘Alumni relations’ course discussed, among many other things, the steps involved in developing an effective alumni programme: locate, engage, ask to participate in events, recognise and nurture. In addition, participants picked up ideas of how to find new partners and learnt how Vermont Technical College, Tilburg University and Central European University (CEU) implemented their alumni programmes.  Here is an example of a successful online alumni community developed by CEU.

There’s great satisfaction among the trainers as well. “The trainers feel at home and well taken care of. All my requests were met with the best reactions, everything is going perfectly. The participants in my course come from a different culture so we have different perspectives; overall we have a nice balance in the group.” Serge Sych, ‘Alumni relations from A to Z’ trainer, Central European University.

Exciting networking events

Last night we enjoyed a guided tour of Taylor’s Port Wine Cellars, a family-owned winery in the historic area of Porto, and sampled the famous port while mingling with the participants and making new connections. Another series of exciting networking events will follow tonight and on Thursday, taking us to Porto’s historical archive building and to the iconic Casa da Musica, a spectacular building dedicated to music and culture.

After the first six courses, today we bade farewell to some of the participants and started the second part of the programme, with three courses commencing in the afternoon (intercultural competences, strategic international planning and master degree admissions) and two more commencing on Thursday morning (educational credentials from Asian countries and international website optimisation).

To get an in-depth idea of what’s being discussed during the courses and what participants are learning every day, follow #EAIEAcademy on Twitter and check out our blog for further updates.