Posts in the Staffordshire University category

EU Erasmus funding for teacher exchange is a great thing. It offers you a possibility to go for an exchange practically any European country. See the world with EU Money!

Visit at Burslem pottery

Visit at Burslem pottery

But when the exchange period is only few weeks away the stress and agony begin to grow exponentially and eventually you blame yourself of ever even sending the application. A week off your regular work means that the weeks before and after the exchange are much more packed than usual. At the same time you have to arrange your timetable, prepare lectures you need to give and find out facts about Finland in case somebody would ask questions like: how’s the unemployment rate in Finland? So why bother?

Sometimes you won’t even get where you wanted to. This happened to me this year: instead of an international week in Nice, France (nice weather!) for certain reasons I ended up in Staffordshire, England (not so nice weather!). Staffordshire University warmly welcomed me but the teaching arrangements took time, and when I set up for the journey I still had no precise teaching program. I had a fear that maybe I was not that welcome after all.

I was as wrong as I could ever be. I got the warmest welcome by the staff of the Business faculty. Already the day I arrived I gave an ex-tempore lecture together with another visiting professor from Belgium, which was a very unique experience. During the week I had several inspiring meetings with local colleagues and met brilliant students, who even took me to a field trip to introduce their project with a local pottery firm, famous Burslem. I did give several lectures, too, but some that I had prepared had no use. Maybe next time.



The most memorable event was, however, attending the inaugural lecture of my host, Professor Jon Fairburn, about ‘How and why Staffordshire should engage with Europe’. Inaugural lecture is a prestigious occasion where a recently nominated professor gives his first public speech to a very authoritative audience. And in his speech Jon presented TAMK as an example for his university of how to engage with Europe.

At Burslem pottery

At Burslem pottery

Stoke-on-Trent, where Staffordshire University is located, has rather similar history with Tampere. Both are old industrial cities which have lost their original industry base and now have to cope with the economic change. Stoke’s economic wealth was originally based on coal mining and pottery. Coal mines are long gone and the amount of potteries reduced to a fragment of what it used to be. Today Stoke is economically in much worse situation than Tampere. Jon’s opinion is that their community has much to learn about how Tampere has re-invented itself, for instance by converting the old factory buildings to business, culture and entertainment centers. He seemed to have several ideas about joint projects in mind. It is worth mentioning that they have been very successful in getting EU funding for their projects!

Professor Jon Fairburn giving inaugural lecture

Professor Jon Fairburn giving inaugural lecture

Jon also emphasized that TAMK’s model of student- and teacher exchange and our capability of arranging as many as 8 international weeks per year are something Staffordshire University should learn from. Even though I have absolutely nothing to do with building such a good image about TAMK I felt quite proud being introduced to the audience that night.

So I have accepted the fact that the sun of South France was not meant for me, and feel very inspired in finding out what kind of joint projects we could do with Staffordshire.

Text and photos: Tuula Andersson

Between the 17th and 21st November I spent a week with many colleagues from TAMK using an Erasmus + Training exchange. As part of an ongoing collaboration where we have been discussing a variety of opportunities, my visit was specifically based around improving my knowledge of how TAMK (where Erasmus exchanges are successfully embedded in the university culture) implements the Erasmus programme and how they administer it.

Adam Hall

At Staffordshire University, we have always participated in Erasmus exchanges but have lacked a central overview and direction due to a variety of reasons and contextual issues. The central administration of Erasmus + exchanges has recently moved under my remit so it provides an ideal moment to learn key lessons surrounding the implementation of the programme to allow us to further build on the way in which we engage with Erasmus.

Before I had even arrived, I was already learning signs of good practise with the professional and efficient communication provided by Matti Pietilä in explaining my proposed schedule, hotel and travel advice and some history regarding Tampere. When I did arrive, Matti came to meet me with a warm welcome and we continued where we left off with our conversations when we recently met in Prague at the EAIE conference.

The schedule involved meetings with all the key people involved in providing an excellent service to both incoming and outgoing students and staff through Erasmus exchanges at TAMK.

Overall, the visit has been excellent and particularly useful for me to learn good practise in Erasmus administration. We have many areas of common ground; one in particular is either ends of the issue of attracting UK students to engage in exchange. It seems we can both work together to show these students the benefits of exchanges which will hopefully lead to a balanced and sustainable exchange in the future. The visit has helped to validate areas I was already implementing whilst also giving me some new ideas. I hope also that I was able to add a slightly different perspective to your work which you may have found useful and hope to maintain this mutually beneficial exchanging of experience and knowledge into future work.

More than anything, it was a great pleasure to meet such nice people who gave up their time when I know how busy they are. You are all a credit to TAMK and I look forward to welcoming your staff to Staffordshire in the future.

In particular I would like to thank Matti for developing an excellent schedule for my visit and for ensuring I found my way to each meeting.

Thank you all again.

Text: Adam Hall, International Progression Partnerships Manager, Staffordshire University
Picture: Matti Pietilä