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Staff mobility initiatives: thinking of the world

January 8, 2009

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By Terry Lavender and Rosanne Ng

Terry Lavender and Rosanne Ng, who relate their experiences below, are two of the most recent participants in SFU International’s four-year-old staff mobility initiative (SMI).

The program supports as many as five paid staff attachments or exchanges per year to partner universities throughout the world. Successful applicants receive their regular wages plus a maximum of $3,000 to help cover related travel and living expenses.

The four-to-six-week attachments are open to all permanent non-academic staff, enabling them to build their skills abroad while supporting the internationalization of SFU at home through service and programming improvements.

The next application deadline is Jan. 20, 2009. To apply, click here.



Terry Lavender
Sister university in Barcelona imparts valuable insights

Mention Barcelona and one thinks of architectural masterpieces, streets steeped in history, and glamorous nightclubs and restaurants.

But Spain’s second largest city (pop. 1.6 million) is also home to eight universities, including SFU’s sister institution, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF).

SFU and UPF share many similarities. Both exist in the shadow of a larger, more established institution. Both are located in cosmopolitan, tourism-driven cities. Both have three campuses, two of them in an urban location.

As I was to be in Barcelona anyway, I thought it would be useful to see how my counterparts in public affairs and media relations at UPF dealt with such issues as media relations and student recruitment. Thanks to a grant from the Staff Mobility Initiative, and thanks to the hospitable and patient staff at UPF, I extended my stay and gained some insights into how UPF handled these issues.

Founded in 1990, UPF is one of the smallest universities in Spain, with just 10,000 students. It is heavily international—15 per cent of faculty members, 10 per cent of undergraduates and 40 per cent of graduate students come from outside Spain.

UPF’s major competitor is the 555-year-old University of Barcelona, which boasts approximately 82,000 students. That means UPF has to be proactive if it wants to get attention from the media, which normally gravitate to the larger, more established institution when looking for quotable experts.

The same goes for recruitment says Josep Sort, head of UPF’s institutional information and promotion unit. UPF is most students’ second choice, after UB, he says. To attract students, UPF holds essay contests (with such prizes as computers and free tuition), brings in teachers and students by the busload to experience a day at UPF, and aggressively recruits international students. It is also trying other initiatives, such as a seniors’ program for students aged 50+.

Visiting UPF gave me a fresh perspective on how SFU can deal with the challenges of getting public and media recognition and attracting students when faced with an older, more established competitor. UPF may be located in a glamorous, history-rich city, but the challenges it faces are very similar to those that we have here at SFU.

Terry Lavender is communications manager for SFU Surrey.


Rosanne Ng
European summer schools offer lessons back home

As the international coordinator for SFU Business, I help business students find opportunities abroad through exchanges, field schools and international co-ops. And I’ve found that while many of them want international experience they find it financially or logistically difficult to take a semester abroad.

I had heard that our exchange-partner institutions use special international summer programs to combat the same problem, so I put together a proposal for a staff mobility initiative where I would learn about the programs through a combination of interviews and work as part of the staff at the universities.

First stop, Oslo, Norway and the BI Norwegian School of Management where I received very detailed information from administrators about logistics, funding, enrolment and the past mistakes and resources involved in running a summer program for international students.

My next stop was Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, one of Europe’s biggest and most popular summer university programs, with 1300 students, 50-plus student volunteers and 22 international professors. The program combines an intensive academic component with a vast cultural program that brings international and domestic students together in many different environments. During my week there, I worked, lived and ate alongside the international participants.

My last stop was the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration where I spent time working in a long-established summer program that links intensive core courses with a special speaker series and company visits.

It was all a wonderful learning experience and I thank SFU International for making it possible. Exploring the many different possibilities in Europe has inspired me as I begin to set up an international summer university for SFU Business.

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Natalia Bussard

Hi Rosy,

This must have been a great experience- Scandinavian Summer Business schools as well as Austria. I would love to have the opportunity to talk more about your impressions from these schools and your trip.

What is the time horizon for setting up this SFU International Business Summer School?

Sincerely,

Natalia

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