Erasmus Staff Training: A deep dive into joint programmes and wellbeing

Over 30 participants from 17 universities gathered at the Aalto University campus early June for the Erasmus Staff Training Days. On top of networking and getting to know Aalto better, the participants took a deep dive into joint programmes, multilingual and multicultural aspects, European Degree and wellbeing at universities.
Sophie Belanger on the left and Ferdinand Keil on the right sitting on a sofa  and chatting
Sophie Belanger (left) and Ferdinand Keil. Photo: Suvi Lavinto

The participants were introduced to tools, guidelines and best practices developed in the Unite! university alliance that Aalto University together with eight other European technical universities are part of. The workshop facilitators were from Aalto, KTH in Sweden and Grenoble-INP in France. 

Building a joint programme is difficult, but doable

Ferdinand Keil, head of a research group at the Integrated Electronic Systems Lab at TU Darmstadt, is currently building a joint programme on microelectronics together with six Unite! universities, companies and research institutions with the aim of training urgently needed specialists for the semiconductor industry. The GreenChips-EDU consortium aims for 400 students to complete a jointly offered Bachelor’s or Master’s programme during the four-year project period.

“The staff training week on joint programmes was just a perfect fit for me. I learned what are the most prominent challenges when designing joint programmes. It is important to find a common language and agree on definitions. I also learned about accreditation, Erasmus Mundus, and about practicalities of creating such a programme. You have to assemble all these puzzle pieces of information and build your own approach out of it. Now I know it’s difficult, but it’s doable,” tells Ferdinand and continues that he strongly recommends such staff training weeks since nothing beats to meeting in person. 

Multilingual and multicultural aspects in joint programmes

The participants also explored the Unite! Policy on Multilingualism and Multiculturalism (M&M) and what should be considered when setting up courses and programmes in an international environment. The policy aims at setting the general guidelines for the university alliance to successfully create a multilingual trans-European campus. As more practical advice was needed, Unite! is now finalising a handbook to provide the alliance and all its members with ideas, tools and good practices to fully embrace our cultural diversity. 

“Although we have with English a shared language of communication, all languages and cultures of Unite! should be taken into account, valorised and really be part of our Unite! environment”, explains the workshop facilitator Sophie Belanger from Grenoble-INP who coordinates the expert group on M&M at Unite!. 

“'Being given the opportunity to exchange ideas and points of views with colleagues from various backgrounds and positions working in quite different institutions is a real learning experience. It helped us step back and look at our own context from a new perspective. The diversity of the group provided us with interesting ideas and useful comments that we all shared. Despite our diverse background we are facing very similar challenges when dealing with cultural diversity, it is  reassuring to see that we are all working towards common goals. We didn't find 'the' solution but I trust it took us a step further towards finding 'our' solution”, shares Sophie.

Group of people in a class room, at the background a screen with text "wellbeing at the university."
Participants of the Wellbeing at University workshop at the Erasmus Staff Training Days. Tiina Pylkkönen sixth from left, Janne Mertala far right.

Sharing good practices on wellbeing at universities 

The workshop provided aspects on how to support wellbeing in teaching, in human resources, in direct support to students or in general university services. Janne Mertala and Tiina Pylkkönen presented Aalto University’s view on holistic wellbeing for university community and perspectives on student wellbeing. The day included also a guided visit to Aalto’s Wellbeing Route, a breathing break that combines movement, surrounding campus nature and meditation. 

Some of the examples shared from Aalto are the Oasis of Radical Wellbeing that has produced “Keys to Your Wellbeing” packages aiming to improve understanding of wellbeing by distributing research-based information about how we can better take care of ourselves and each other. Starting Point of Wellbeing has created students an easy access to counselling and wellbeing support.

“Conversations and sharing with international colleagues was insightful in many ways – and we learned a lot from each other and had a lot of fun. Each participant brought one good practice from their home university. I found this benchmarking possibility refreshing and have many new thoughts for future developing”, says Janne Mertala who works at Aalto University as guidance counsellor and special education teacher. He also coordinates student wellbeing service concept called Starting Point of Wellbeing which combines student counselling and wellbeing services under one umbrella.

Are you interested in international staff training? 

Unite! offers staff weeks and training courses to all members of staff from the nine partner universities. Visit the Unite! Faculty and Staff homepage, where you will have the opportunity to meet other people with similar interests, internationalise your professional curriculum, find partners for your teaching, research or university management projects.

Visit the Unite! Faculty and Staff homepage

Unite! University Alliance

Aalto University is a member of Unite! alliance together with eight other European universities.

Learn more about Unite!
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