In the week of 9th to the 13th of April 2018, Charles University hosted the second International Staff Training Week, focusing on issues of internationalization of universities, management of the Erasmus programme and other international exchanges, as well as presentations of selected Charles University faculties to guests from abroad. A total of 35 representatives of partner institutions from 15 countries took part in this year's Staff Training Week. The new element was the participation of partners from the countries of International Credit Mobility, namely Albania, Kosovo and Israel. The International Credit Mobility has been part of Erasmus+ since the academic year 2014/2015.
The Erasmus programme is usually perceived by people from a non-university environment strictly as a student exchange. Even a number of university staff are poorly informed about the possibilities of exchanges of university employees in the frame of the Erasmus programme – which is possible not only for academics but also for administrative forces. Charles University annually sends about 170 scientific and pedagogical staff to the countries within the EU, EFTA and candidate countries to the EU as part of teaching-staff exchanges; other academics are heading to non-EU countries through the International Credit Mobility (ICM) programme. A less-frequently used mobility option for university staff is the so-called ‘training’, whereby employees sent abroad attend a workshop or a training course, or otherwise work-shadow a foreign colleague. The participation in the International Staff Training Weeks is also very popular; Erasmus staff training activities usually attract 20-50 employees per year at Charles University, according to interest and budget allocation.
In addition to sending employees of Charles University abroad, the staff of foreign departments of the Rectorate and faculties of CU also receive requests for a visit from colleagues working in other Erasmus+ countries – typically for training lasting several days. As it is not in our control – and also not in the power of the other universities – to ensure a longer admission of a higher number of colleagues from abroad throughout the year, universities usually solve these requests by offering a mass acceptance. This admission is typically organized in the form of a series of workshops, lectures, tours and visits to the institution. These activities are collectively referred to as ‘Staff Training Week’.
Charles University organized its first Staff Training Week for the staff of International Relations Offices in March 2016. It was followed by a week-long training for librarians organized by the Central Library of Charles University, in cooperation with the faculty libraries. Moreover, the spring of 2017 included a training week for the employees of research departments from CU partner institutions abroad.
Similar to its predecessor two years ago, this year's second International Staff Training Week included a general presentation of the University, its history, and elements of the internationalization strategy. The European Office, the main Erasmus workplace of CU, presented its actives (e.g. ‘International iForum’, cooperation with the National Library of the Czech Republic, the voluntary educational programme ‘Europe Meets School’ and the activities of the choir and the orchestra of CU) which are devised to allow a higher degree of integration of foreign students. The group also collectively visited selected faculties of Charles University, including the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Education. In addition, other CU faculties organized visits for smaller numbers of representatives from their direct partners. In addition to this, the National Agency for Erasmus for the Czech Republic (The Centre for International Cooperation in Education), the Centre for Information, Counselling and Social Services of CU, the Institute of the History of Charles University and the Archive of Charles University, also participated in the programme, by presenting their respective fields.
New features of the programme, which were integrated this year, included a visit to the Department for Asylum and Migration Policy of the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic – exclusively focused on students – and a workshop combined with a discussion on the topic of the International Credit Mobility programme and its implementation. ICM also belongs under the Erasmus+ scheme, but its focus on countries outside the European Union, differentiates it from the classical Erasmus programme between EU member states and other eligible countries.
Interestingly, some participants from countries of the International Credit Mobility, who took part in this year’s International Staff Training Week, and who even had a support grant of this mobility programme, did not know its official name. In fact, within their countries and home institutions, this sub-programme is only known as Erasmus+, which, for International Relations Office staff coming from EU member states, represents the umbrella of all the various mobility programmes supported by the European Commission.
The week-long programme was further enriched with a visit to the National Theatre together with the faculty Erasmus coordinators and selected international students of Charles University, a guided tour of the historical centre of Prague, and a visit to the exhibition “Man-Made Man: Technology and Medicine” – a project developed between the National Technical Museum, Charles University’s medical faculties, and the National Medical Library of the Czech Republic.