BEST+ Project description

The BEST+ projects aims to innovate the way university staff members working in international relations develop their competences. To achieve this goal, a cost efficient new methodology called blended staff mobility will be piloted through this project, combining traditional physical mobility with comprehensive online material. In this context, this online platform is being developed, which serves as community platform for all university staff members working in international relations. BEST+ aims at creating three different courses relevant to improving the work of university staff and the quality of mobility. Additionally, the project will devise guidelines for blended staff mobility, describing in detail the different methodologies that can be used to efficiently run blended staff mobility courses and how to implement them in this online platform. Lastly, the project has the ambition to have a significant impact on EU policies, being part of an important policy shift towards a more digital Higher Education that is globally competitive.

 

Digital professional development and strong internationalisation at Higher Education institutions are two important pillars to achieve this goal. The project partners have committed to derive policy recommendations and use the project results to impact the follow up programme of Erasmus+ and to create a mind shift within university leadership on how to further develop competences of their staff members.

 

The BEST+ project will test different methodologies for blended staff mobility through iteratively creating the aforementioned courses. These will be implemented in this online platform, where the community can further develop the content by giving structured feedback on the courses. This community driven content ensures that courses will remain up to date as new developments in the field occur over time. It will also engage the community actively, increasing international cooperation between administrative university staff members. Around 100 staff members in international relations will be involved in the piloting phase to continuously develop and refine the project outcomes and to ensure that by the end of the project, a comprehensive online platform with at least three pilot courses will be available to the community.

 

The creation of such a new form of professional development for both administrative and academic staff members working in international relations will not only boost their everyday motivation and involvement in the international community but also have a positive effect on the quality of their work, which in turn impacts hundreds of thousands of international students and staff each year. As a result, the quality of mobility will increase considerably. Having university staff members in international relations experience mobility themselves will make them ambassadors mobility, which will also increase the likelihood of students to engage in mobility. The project therefore contributes to the achievement of a range of EU priorities, such as 20 of mobile students by 2020 and the implementation of new digital teaching methods.

Project information

Project title: Blended Erasmus+ Staff Training

Project acronym: BEST+

Project duration: 01/09/2016 - 31/10/2018 (26 months)

Project coordinator: University of Alcala

Funding background: Erasmus+ Key Action 2 - Strategic Partnerships for higher education

Funding: 218,717 euro

How it works

The BEST+ project consists of different deliverables, which will contribute to the overarching aim described in the project description section.

Blended Staff mobility online platform: The main platform to integrate all online learning material with connecting it to the physical trainings. The platform will be used for at least three courses throughout the project but will be available to host other blended staff mobility trainings

Learning Material 1 - Intercultural competences: This course will focus on the importance of intercultural understanding of staff members working with international students directly or indirectly and showcase some of the most innovative methodologies in intercultural learning. This Learning Material will be prepared under the leadership of experts from the University of Eastern Finland

Learning Material 2 - International attractiveness of universities: This course will focus on the impact of internationalisation on international recruitment and the university reputation. It will tackle issues such as branding, outreach and reputation building through and with international students. This Learning Material will be prepared under the leadership of experts from the University of Alcala

Learning Material 3 - International student experience: This course will focus on the international student’s experience from two different viewpoints - students and universities. It will creae a holistic view on how to improve the quality of the student experience both academically and from an administrative point of view. Topics that will be tackled throughout this course are (non exhaustive list): Buddy system, housing, welcome days, student associations, cultural integration, volunteering and language cafes. The Learning Material will be prepared in a joint initiative under the leadership of experts from the Lodz University and the Erasmus Student Network

Guidelines for Blended Learning Material: The guidelines aim to explore and propose a framework for high quality blended staff mobility content. The will define the concept of blended staff mobility more concretely and give advice on how to create Learning Material, as well as how to integrate it into the Blended Staff Mobility online platform. The guidelines will be constantly developed throughout the project, as they will adapt according to the experiences made through the blended training courses conducted in the context of the BEST+ project.

Project Partners

University of Alcala

The University of Alcalá (UAH) is a public university located in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the longest standing European universities (dating back to 1293). Today the University of Alcalá is a modern institution, re-founded in 1977, which preserves its traditional humanities faculties, a testimony to the university's efforts to promote and diffuse the Spanish language through both its studies and the Cervantes Prize, which is awarded annually by the King and Queen of Spain in the Paraninfo (Great Hall).

European University Foundation

The European University Foundation aims to accelerate the modernisation of the European Higher Education Area. The Foundation focuses its action on five pillars and it stands for diversity and social fairness in Higher Education. (Quality mobility, Employability, Digital Higher Education, Active citizenship, Policy Innovation.) All members of the EUF are public universities that share a culture of academic excellence and all university partners of the project consortium are member of the EUF.

Together, the EUF member universities have been in the forefront of European policy making for over a decade, promoting high quality student mobility and a strong European Higher Education area.

Erasmus Student Network

The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is the biggest European student network acting in the field of student mobility and internationalisation of higher education. ESN is a non-profit organisation of over 500 local sections in 40 countries in close to 500 Higher Education Institutions, gathering over 14.000 volunteers. The network provides support services to over 180,000 international students annually and works for their needs by facilitating their mobility period, ensuring social cohesion, reintegration and by enhancing intercultural awareness and active citizenship. ESN ensures student participation in education and training policy through providing its members with trainings, seminars and non-formal education opportunities, which contributes to the creation of a more mobile and flexible education environment. ESN supported student exchanges at different levels and providing internationalisation at home. ESN aims to further develop European mobility, active citizenship and volunteering.

University of Latvia

The UL’s provision of educational postgraduate programmes reflects a dynamic process of evaluation within the past 10 years. The strategic goal is to ensure the Latvian economy with leaders and managers in the governmental and non-governmental sectors, to ensure the renewal of academic staff at the UL and other Latvian institutions of higher education and research. Graduate study programmes with higher degree of selectivity, specialisation and internationalisation are based on research activities corresponding to the mission of a research university. In such programmes student numbers are average sized, the methodology is original and the study infrastructure is more specialised and expensive.

University of Eastern Finland

The University of Eastern Finland is one of the largest universities in Finland, and home to approximately 15,000 students and 2,700 members of staff. The campuses are located in Joensuu, Kuopio and Savonlinna. UEF is a multidisciplinary university, which offers teaching in more than 100 major subjects. The UEF has four faculties: the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. All activities underscore multidisciplinarity. The key interdisciplinary research areas are built around four global challenges. These challenges are Ageing, lifestyles and health; Learning in a digitised society; Cultural encounters, mobilities and borders; and Environmental change and sufficiency of natural resources.

Lodz University

The University of Lodz is one of the leading institutions of higher education in Poland. It was established in 1945 as a successor of educational institutions active in Lodz in earlier times. Our students, together with those studying in Lodz within Erasmus exchange, come from about 80 different countries. In this truly international atmosphere, everyone can experience the cultural diversity of both the city and the institution. The 38,000 students that attend classes at different faculties of the University are taught by 2,226 academic teachers, 586 of whom bear the highest academic rank. The interest in studying at the University of Lodz is determined by high quality of instruction and modern programmes of study offered in Polish, English and French, and adapted to the changing demands of the labour market. The University treats international cooperation as a way to foster its development and continue the city’s tradition.

Nuvole is an international company specialised in online communication hrough open source tools and working primarily in Belgium and Italy. Nuvole has been working for years with European NGOs (whose members were often distributed in dozens of countries) and public institutions, delivering several Drupal projects that improved the appearance, visibility and interactivity of the organisations’ websites. Nuvole is a recognised leader of the so called code driven development in Drupal, a set of development practices that allow fast and modular development.