CASE 5 MOBILITY AT UL LATVIA NORTHERN EUROPE PROFILE

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1 CASE STUDY TITLE HEI / ORGANISATION NAME COUNTRY DATE NATURE OF INTERACTION WITH BUSINESS NATURE OF GOOD PRACTISE/PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF (UL) OCTOBER 2011 PERSONNEL MOBILITY OPERATIONAL ACTIVITY PROFILE SHORT DESCRIPTION EMERGING FROM STRONG STRUCTURAL FOUNDATIONS, THIS BALTIC REGION PLAYER IS NOW EXPANDING ITS IMPACT IN MOBILITY WITHIN BACKGROUND The University of Latvia (UL), focusing its strength as a prominent research university, is a developing Eastern European example of student and academic mobility good practice. Through involvement in the Baltic States region, as well as their expansion in Europe with the INENTER project that began in 2010, they have developed a strong structural base and functional system from which to build further elements of an ecosystem supporting student and academic mobility. By maintaining an emphasis on improving the placements of students in different sectors, as well as enhancing both academic and administrative staff professional training and workshops, UL is providing a good example for other HEI s looking to develop their competencies in the area of mobility. UL was first involved in student mobility with the Erasmus programme (then Socrates) in Furthermore, they are an active participant in the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) for students and staff such as Comenius, Leonardo da Vinci and Grundtvig. The University of Latvia is currently involved in five Erasmus Mundus projects which include staff mobility, both academic and administrative. As a member of many Baltic region projects (eg Baltic Sea Region University Network BSRUN) and European projects, university academic staff are developing good networks for exchange of ideas, co-ordinating placements and providing management skills. Their continued growth in mobility and their involvement now in the INENTER project with thirteen partner institutions from ten different countries provide the UL with solid background and experience. AIM AND TARGET UL aims to establish better student mobility placements in professional training programmes and increase exchanges to achieve a 10% student mobility exchange by The university is a partner in the European funded INENTER project, which aims to help HEIs such as the University of Latvia prioritise specific quality strategies that can identify needs, raise awareness and fully develop the models, tools and measures for good practice regarding internships at all levels in industry and enterprises. With academic personnel, the aim is to increase personal international experience of professors/tutors (e.g. lecturing

2 abroad, joint projects with other institutions) and improve language skills, especially at an administrative level. It is the University of Latvia s aim to aid professional development of students and staff through stronger communication and cooperation between enterprises and academia. FUNDING European Commission, Education and Culture DG LLP, LLP CY-ERASMUS-ECUE. INENTER commenced in October 2010 and will last for two years with a total budget of 390,943. IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY AND ACTIONS Over the last two to three years, UL has taken a much larger step in professionalising their mobility activities through an established system that is functioning productively incorporating student bodies, faculty co-ordinators in academia and a central administrative system for handling of both outgoing and incoming student placements. At UL there is a document that regulates the organisational procedure of the student placements. The document determines who is responsible for what in the organisation of the student placements, the financing of the placements and the official registration of the placement in the information system of the UL. This document also contains annexes with different examples of documents that should be used in organising the placements: agreement between the UL and the hosting institution on the conditions of the placements, document that regulates the registration of the placements in the University of Latvia, agreement between the student, UL and the hosting institution (both in Latvian and English languages). This document agrees on the organisation of placements both in Latvia and abroad. Each study programme has an additional document that regulates the organisation of the placements within the respective study programme, stating the aims, objectives, duration and place as well as the guidance, responsibilities of persons involved and reporting of the placement. The document is available to all faculties within the HEI. The implementation of a guide booklet to good practices for international student placements in various European countries will be set up within the INENTER project. Additionally, there will be a survey, round-table meetings and conferences for sharing knowledge among the institutions where the UL is an active participant. UL is also a major player in the Baltic region, being a coordinating member of BSRUN, which was founded eleven years ago. UL supports the mobility of its academic staff as one 42

3 of its most important prerequisites for renewal of ideas and professional staff development. Academic staff is employed for at least one semester every five years in a foreign country institution. At least 5% of academic staff must deliver lectures in partner HEIs abroad. MONITORING AND EVALUATION SUSTAINABILITY Evaluation is carried out both internally and externally. Figures on student incoming and outgoing placements are evaluated inside a table and presented at end of each year for re-evaluation. There is also monitoring of student placements through Erasmus programme and monitoring of project involvement in the INENTER programme. The external evaluator for INENTER has been subcontracted to offer services for the duration of the project. Professors and administrative staff training experiences are also evaluated at end of each year, as well as financial grants for staff. There is an academic re-election process that is also carried out every five years. It is very important to incorporate more people, motivate staff through new training courses, receive input from international coordinators and motivate faculties (especially faculties that are not as active in placements/academic training), increase international experience in new projects and widen the system overall. The ability to share experiences is seen during participation in the INENTER project. This project will help to broaden the expertise over a far greater network. Greater involvement of companies to offer paid internships is another option to develop the sustainability of the initiative. With reference to the companies, increasing their interest in cooperating with the science sector, through further initiatives such as sciencebusiness will influence the level of sustainability. A basic-level European course on the project s subject would further contribute to its sustainability. IMPACT RESULTS OUTCOMES ACHIEVEMENTS UL has broadened possibilities for both university placements and placements in business now to 42 professional study programmes (both Bachelor and Master). Students should have practical training within these programmes for at least one semester. Faculties have industry and business agreements to fulfil this task. Professionals from industry and business are involved in the final examination commission work as well as the accreditation of the programmes. The Career Centre organises career days for students and has a database for business and industry companies which are interested in cooperation. There is continued growth with approximately 500 outgoing students and 190 incoming exchange students (including placements) last year. There is a solid functional system in place at all levels of university for student and academic mobility. The Erasmus programme placements have increased from 4 students a few years ago to now 26 students most recently. 43

4 Whilst figures of academic mobility to business are difficult to obtain, academic staff are involved in teacher mobility to partner HEIs, an indicator of the level of academic mobility to business. Outgoing and incoming teacher exchanges have increased significantly over the last five years, with latest 2010 figures showing 74 outgoing and 41 incoming teacher exchanges. Partner HEIs organise visits to companies or institutions, which do not refer to academic commitments, however are needed for additional expertise (especially in natural sciences). Moreover with the INENTER project, the development of good practices for staff training mobility is to be developed and will be another valuable project outcome. SUCCESS FACTORS IMPACTS The success of the programme is established through responsible people, programmes, funding guidelines and agencies that support and facilitate mobility. It will be in increasing the number of student placements and expanding industry and other university involvement. Further, success is determined by how many will get a job after the internship. Knowledge transfer and experience will be enhanced through INENTER and other projects. Short-term UL is striving hard to enlarge numbers for participation of both student and academic mobility s, firstly at a national level but also within other European networks including the Baltic region, the former Soviet Union countries and the Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA) and the INENTER project. Long-term The objective is to achieve sustainability in all processes. UL wants to make faculties within the university more accountable and active in promoting both student and academic mobility. Some faculties, such as medicine, have already established international good contacts. They are also looking at allocating more university funds towards teacher training programmes. Participation of students in more international companies is a long-term university initiative. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES The number of incoming and outgoing students is a positive factor in the developing growth of UL. There is a Career Centre for finding placements and wonderful support systems in place, such as student bodies and the Erasmus council, as well as within the faculties with their international coordinators. The students participating in exchanges have the opportunity to go abroad and acquire interesting international experience. The INENTER project is also helping as it involves large numbers of European players. The project, therefore, is an example of a very exciting partnership. 44

5 Language knowledge within staff, and especially administrative staff, is an identified weakness. Academic staff across some faculties are not always willing participants in mobility. International coordinators have a role to play in motivating staff. At the moment at the faculty level, strategies are revised within each faculty whereas the university strategy is implemented above the faculty level. TRANSFERABILITY THEMES INFORMATION SOURCES PUBLIC CONTACT DETAILS RESOURCES DOCUMENTS AND PUBLICATIONS DATABASES AND WEBSITES The level of transferability of this good practice from the UL is very high and the direct participation in projects such as INENTER and others provide further sources of knowledge transfer among institutions. Thus, all previously acquired knowledge and skills can be put to use in the HEI in which they will work. Student internships, knowledge transfer, human resources Ms. Alina Grzibovska Director, International Relations Department University of Latvia Latvia Phone: INENTER flyer available on the project website 45

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