27 Apr 2012

Valencia to Gothenburg: Academy alumni share their experiences

Lene Birkegaard Pedersen and Tanja Hansen, alumni of the first EAIE Academy in Valencia are again with us, this time in Gothenburg. Both of them are from the Faculty of Health of Aarhus University in Denmark, and both attended the ‘Internationalisation at Home: effecting change in your institution’ course in Valencia as their university was planning to implement an international strategy at the faculty level.

They took some time to share their experiences of Valencia and Gothenburg with us and explain the value of the Academy for their professional development and the internationalisation of their institution. In Gothenburg, Lene is taking the ‘How to run your summer school successfully’ course and Tanja is attending ‘Using benchmarking tools: improve your institutional performance in internationalisation’.

How did the course in Valencia help you on your arrival at your home institution?

Lene: “It was a fantastic course with great trainers. Internationalisation theory was new to me as a concept. The Valencia course gave me a really good overview of what that entails and addressed the issues we encounter when it is not so easy to send students abroad. A good thing was that we took action plans home, suggested them to the department as a strategy and immediately implemented them. This is now in progress.”

Tanja: “We did the course together and it gave us a really good background for suggesting actions. We attended the course as our Vice-Dean had requested an internationalisation strategy for the faculty, which was new to us and the faculty. The course was of huge help.”

Lene: “We came home from Valencia with a lot of contacts. We got to sit next to partners from one of our strategic alliances, which was an additional benefit of the Academy at the practical level.”

What are your reasons for attending the second Academy and how has your experience been thus far?

Tanja: “For me being new to student exchange, coming back to the Academy provides me with a platform for getting information on how other people approach this subject. I hear alternative ways of doing things.”

Lene: “I’m doing the ‘Summer schools’ course this time and we will also have action plans at the end of it which will be very beneficial. I’ll be coming home again with something for the department. As internationalisation is an area of focus for Arhus across all departments, they’re happy to support our participation financially. It’s part of developing staff knowledge and competencies. When you’ve been to one Academy you know what to expect of the next, such as writing an action plan or attending the networking events. You know you’re guaranteed to come home with something which is great when your university has paid for you.”

Tanja: “The continuity is positive. You know the quality is there and who the other participants will be. You get the list of participants and have opportunities for a face-to-face chat which is so much better than by e-mail or phone.”

Lene: “I can see the point of taking two courses at the Academy. It’s amazing that in the eight courses on offer, you cover such a wide range of subjects. There is something of interest wherever you are placed in the organisation.”

What would you recommend to others coming to future Academies?

Lene: “Read up a bit on the subject before you arrive, you’ll get more out of the course. Bring material about your own university so you can relate it to your own situation. This helped me plan how to implement the strategy. Bring the figures so you get them right. We both joined the EAIE and we bought the IaH publication.”

If you missed this one, the next Academy will take place from 19-23 November 2012 in Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, and will be hosted by the University Fernando Pessoa.