RUN-EU Staff Mobilities are a Skills Development Opportunity
17 March 2023
There are many ways to acquire international work experience at RUN-EU. Employees of all seven members can develop their skills in RUN-EU through joint study and degree programmes, research projects and short-term staff mobility periods, for example, exchanges and visits.
So far, the mobility periods have been used mainly by researchers and teachers, but they are also open to any other staff member – for example, an employee of the IT services or the library.
A week in Portugal
One of the employees who has already experienced this kind of mobility is Lotta Hirvonen, a lecturer in communications at the Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) Forssa campus, in Finland.
Together with teachers from other RUN-EU higher education institutions (HEIs), she conceived and implemented a multicultural competence study module for students, which resulted in a week-long intensive course in Portugal last November.
‘It was really interesting to see different ways of teaching. I’ve been working at HAMK for two years and I didn’t have previous teaching experience before that. This was a great opportunity to learn from other teachers from each of the RUN-EU countries, many of whom already had a long teaching experience.’
So far 40 Short Advanced Programmes (SAPs), have been implemented in RUN-EU, ranging from 1 to 6 ECTS credits. They involve short mobility and are designed and delivered by at least two different RUN-EU HEIs.
In addition to these short and flexible modules, students can achieve international experience by exchange studies at a RUN-EU HEI or by completing a degree in two RUN-EU countries and getting a diploma from both RUN-EU institutions.
‘Although the days were long and intense, the students were enthusiastic and motivated and the teaching was really rewarding,’ says Hirvonen about the study week in Portugal.
Sharing research interests – a month at HAMK
Researcher mobilities and joint research projects are also key venues for staff mobility.
An example of this is Dr Hande Ermis, a postdoctoral researcher from the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), who went from Ireland to HAMK last May. Her research focus is on microalgae and, during her visit, she got to know more about HAMK’s microalgae research.
‘There are so many different species of microalgae. At HAMK, I got involved in researching with a species that grows in the dark producing different high-value products that can be used to improve human health. I had never studied with these microalgae before, so it was very interesting for me,’ says Dr Ermis.
The research work that has now begun with HAMK and TUS will be continued.
‘It is very important to know your research partner’s laboratories and working methods to build long-term research cooperation and to participate in new research projects together. HAMK has spacious and well-equipped laboratories and working with HAMK researchers was a great experience. I did not only establish academic relationships but also built friends with my colleagues from HAMK.’
Both Hirvonen and Ermis encourage their colleagues and students to take advantage of the internationalisation opportunities offered by RUN-EU.
‘The mobility period requires a curious mind, but fortunately it is quite easy to make new contacts with our partners and our international office, for example, can help if needed. After this experience, I am even more eager to encourage my students to take advantage of the internationalisation opportunities that HAMK has to offer for students,’ says Hirvonen.
Dr Ermis agrees and adds: ‘It is important not only for RUN-EU employees but also for students to see different ways of working, different working environments and different cultures. Such experiences are essential for personal growth.’
In addition to joint educational projects and research activities, RUN-EU HEIs also build other structured pathways for their staff and students to network, internationalise and develop their skills.
For example, the RUN-EU General Assembly gathered two hundred guests from six different RUN-EU countries at HAMK, in Finland, last autumn.