Training Workshop for International Relations Managers and Officers

From March 2nd – 6th 2020, the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen hosted its third training workshop in framework of the Erasmus+ TIGRIS Project.

The workshop provided comprehensive trainings for a total of 17 International Relations Managers and Officers from all nine TIGRIS Partner Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The workshop, which due to flight cancelations by some intl. airlines operating in Iraq started a day late, comprised a broad list of topics related to the management and administration of internationalisation as well as the operations of International Relations Offices (IROs).

In addition, the training workshop provided the opportunity to review the structures and processes at IROs set up by Kurdish partner HEIs in the course of the TIGRIS Project.

The workshop started on Tuesday with the training by PD Dr. Hartje Kriete tackling the important topic of recognition of studies – a topic which was highly requested by Kurdish partners.

In his session, Dr. Kriete, a seasoned practitioner and expert on the matter from the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Göttingen, provided the participants with a comprehensive overview of the topic thereby not only exemplifying recognition procedures at the University of Göttingen as well as their underlying principles and regulations but also providing practical examples and cases for their application.

Following on this, in a joint working session the participants together with Dr. Kriete and Jakob Hedderich, the TIGRIS Project Manager at the University of Göttingen, reviewed the recognition procedures existing in the Kurdistan Region. Here, it became evident that due to the limited cases of credit mobility, recognition processes for periods of studies at Kurdish HEIs are in need for further development and refinement.

The second half of the day was dedicated to the topic of shaping intra-institutional cooperation for internationalisation at HEIs.

For this, Prof. Dr. Achim Dohrenbusch, Dean of Studies at the highly international Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology, presented a view from the faculties thereby not only showing a practical application of internationalisation as a purpose-driven concept (e.g. enhancing the quality of education & research) but besides other things exemplifying that different views on and degrees of internationalisation very well exist within one and the same university.

The ensuing discussion also very well illustrated the importance of the faculties in shaping and implementing internationalisation as well as the high degree of autonomy they need and should enjoy.

Following on this, Dr. Uwe Muuss, Head of Göttingen International, continued with the topic of intra-institutional cooperation for internationalisation presenting an overview of the relevant stakeholders involved in internationalisation at the University of Göttingen as well as exemplifying their joint collaboration for making internationlisation possible.

Special focus was given to linking the central administration with the faculties both in terms of developing international strategy as well as implementing internationalisaiton, e.g. by such measures as establishing dedicated international officers or even offices at the faculty level.

For this, Dr. Muuss also presented on the structure, role and tasks of Göttingen International as the university’s own IRO thereby including the topics that were originally scheduled for the first day of the workshop.

Also, to make up for the first day lost the participants together with Dr. Muuss and Jakob Hedderich put in some extra hours jointly reviewing and analysing the International Relations Offices of TIGRIS Partner HEIs.

Due to very high demand by partners, the full next day of the training workshops (Wednesday) was allocated to the topic of project and proposal writing.

Göttingen International’s own Netra Bhandari, Regional Coordinator South, Southeast, Central Asia and the Middle East, and supported by his colleague Jakob Hedderich conducted the training, in the session combining theoretical information with hands-on training:

While the first half of the day provided participants with an introduction to the topic as well as the necessary knowledge on funding opportunities, organisational approaches and strategies to find partners, the second half of the day was devoted to a practical exercise challenging the workshop’s participants to develop a concept for an EU CBHE project aiming at building knowledge, skills and competences, which can be put into practice immediately by Kurdish partners. Therefore, the training’s focus was deliberately put on EU funding programmes, in which Kurdish HEIs are eligible to submit proposals.

Managing academic mobility is one of the key tasks that come with internationalisation of Higher Education, hence another full day was allocated to this important topic.

For this, Göttingen International’s Karen Denecke, Coordinator of the Erasmus+ Key Action 103, designed a comprehensive training session walking the participants through the complete process of managing academic mobility from start to finish thereby exemplifying key features and requirements of the process.

As part of the training, partners during a joint working session were challenged with designing procedural steps to be implemented before, during and after a mobility, which can later be applied to the processes in management and administration of academic mobility at home.

Continuing with the topic of managing academic mobility, after the lunch break Göttingen International’s Patrick Lajoie, Coordinator of the PROMOS Programme, took over presenting the use case of MoveOn, one of the IT-solutions used by the University of Göttingen to manage and administer academic mobility.

As part of the session, Kurdish participants could witness a live demonstration of the tool as well as received an overview of and first-hand report on the features, use and implementation of such a solution as well as the benefits, challenges and costs that go along with setting up and maintaining such systems (digitalisation). Additional questions by Kurdish partners were answered in a Q&A.

The final session of the day was dedicated to the topic of developing academic mobility and partnerships with European HEIs via the Erasmus+ Key Action 107.

The coordinator of the Erasmus+ Key Action 107 at Göttingen international, Olga Uchlina, introduced the participants to the funding line, provided comprehensive insights into how European HEIs use it, as well as worked with Kurdish partners on how they can best approach EU HEIs to develop student and staff exchange with EU HEIs.

For this, a clear time-schedule was established as well as advice on how to approach partners provided.

As part of this training session, the topic of recognition of studies was picked-up again and the use of a learning agreement for students (and to lesser extent mobility agreement for staff) exemplified. For this, partners were shown and trained on real-world examples of different mobility cases.

The first session on Friday, the final day of the workshop, was devoted to the topic welcome services for international students and staff.

Dr. Philipp Jeserich, Head of the Incoming Office, by the example of the University of Göttingen presented to the partners how support structures and services for international students and staff can be set up to meet the demands and to foster sociocultural adaptation, personal development and academic success.

The presentation provided a comprehensive overview of basic principles and considerations and exemplifying their application and operationalisation at Göttingen International such as applying New-Public-Management principles to break up scalar and departmentalised organisation by introducing support services as a “pilot” (meaning single or primary access point) that supports international students and staff to navigate their new environment successfully. Questions from Kurdish partners were addressed in a follow-up Q&A.

This was followed up by the final session of the training workshop, in which the participants together with Dr. Uwe Muuss and Jakob Hedderich reviewed the outcome of the workshop providing a welcome opportunity to address open question.

During this session, a joint review of the current admission process and procedures for international students, currently in place in the Kurdistan Region, was conducted. As part of this, the participants were presented with the anabin database provided by The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the German Länder, which is an important tool for the verification and recognition of foreign degrees.

The workshop then closed with the award of certificates of participation to the participants.

After that, Laura C. Hoffmann, Financial Officer of the TIGRIS Project at Göttingen International, and Jakob Hedderich provided individual meetings for selected partners to address questions on the administration of the grant thereby continuing the constant training efforts by the University of Göttingen as coordinator of the TIGRIS project.

Agenda of the Training Workshop for International Relations Managers & Officers

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