Erasmus Policy Statement of the University of Évora
The University of Évora (UE) faces transnational inter-institutional cooperation as a decisive factor of its institutional dynamics consistent with the European strategy for the promotion of quality in higher education and, in particular, for the implementation of international best practices. In addition, it contributes to the institution’s resilience and ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world.
Internationalisation and openness should not be seen only as a mean for the institution to gain visibility, prestige and reputation. Aligning with the European guidelines for higher education, research and knowledge transfer and taking advantage of the support that will become available, the UE intends to expand its network of international cooperation combining mobility with cooperation and attraction and retention of talent (students, teachers and researchers) and promoting the development of an international perspective at all levels of its activity. The establishment with other national institutions of integrated partnerships in research, knowledge transfer and initial, advanced and lifelong learning, particularly in strategic areas, allows the creation of clusters with high standing at the national and international contexts. The strategic guidelines of the University are: To promote the involvement of the UE in transnational partnerships, the internationalisation of learning and teaching, the development of transnational mobility of students, teachers, researchers and staff (in and out) and the development of strategic research partnerships with high-quality institutions. We will keep increasing the opportunities to our students to have a learning experience abroad, recognizing all the credits earned and creating an international environment at home through an English teaching, classes taught by foreign professors and integrate foreign students in regular classes and activities.
This internationalisation strategy is based on the choice of key partners both in Europe and outside Europe. The Portuguese speaking countries and the Mediterranean (UE participates in networks: AULP, UNIMED and TETHYS) are regions of particular interest to the UE. The experience in the management of Erasmus Mundus – Action 2, with the East Asia through the EMMA-WEST project, and in Erasmus Mundus – Action 1 (PHOENIX, EUMAINE, TPTI and ARCHMAT) has allowed us to establish a network of contacts that we intend to strengthen in future applications.
In Europe we intend to maintain strong relationships, in particular with southern countries and in strengthening the presence of students from northern Europe. Following a period where mobility has grown and is consolidated at the 1st
cycle level and in the academic staff, the focus of the University of Évora for the period until 2020 will be in improving mobility at the 2nd
cycles and non-academic staff, notwithstanding the importance that we will keep devoting to the others. The international partnerships already established at both the 2nd
cycles can be starting points for the growing of this mobility.
In this field, and following which is already a regional strategy for research and innovation undertaken by the UE, we intend to develop traineeships and masters and doctoral thesis in business context. For this purpose, grant support is essential, especially for disadvantaged groups, which one intends to integrate into education programmes. In order to encourage student mobility, UE will promote fundraising contacts to raise complementary support.
The focus on the training of our non-academic staff aims to encourage longer stays in specific contexts outside their place of origin. We intend to drive a higher rate of mobility at this level, targeting both the acquisition of specific skills related to decision support, organisation of time, and the frequency of training or internships related to the area of university management, communication and marketing, among others. The recognition and integration of knowledge and practices acquired through mobility into the daily procedures of this staff are already a reality that we will keep following by a careful monitoring.
The UE wants to continue to promote the number of joint master’s degrees both nationally and internationally. The wide competition at this level determines the choice of preferential areas of activity based on quality. At this level we propose, among others, programmes in specialised areas related to agriculture, arts, environment, management, renewable energy, heritage & conservation, engineering and technology, health care and welfare and extractive industries, which we believe to be areas of common interest to the regions with which we intend to consolidate our relations in terms of education, research and technology transfer. The installed competencies and the network of contacts in these scientific fields will allow the creation of high-quality programmes able to attract quality students.
The University of Évora advocates a policy of assertive internationalisation, participating in cooperative projects in education to enable students and staff to gain international experience and improve their processes of teaching and learning in accordance with the best practices developed by HEIs recognised as excellent. The International Relations Office (IRO) will keep being responsible for proposing to the rectorate bilateral agreements of cooperation with other universities, research centers, enterprises and other organisations, will continue to coordinate the processes of submission and selection of proposals for international cooperation, and promote the participation of students and staff in preparatory meetings, conferences and networks at European and non-European levels. It is intended that the actions of the IRO will be supported by an international relations contact person in each School. For the submission of a proposal, a task force will be formed by a coordinator, teachers, administrative staff of IRO and, where appropriate, students. Once the project is approved, the task force is responsible for all implementation activities, dissemination, operation and management of the budget, as well as the preparation of technical and financial progress and final reports. The international joint masters and doctoral degrees are inserted in the structure of IIFA (Doctoral School) and depend on its Director. Mobility programmes are managed from IRO under the supervision of a Vice-rector. Projects that fall under the EU agenda for the modernisation of higher education will be inserted in Schools more related to the area in question, as well as projects aimed at supporting the modernisation and internationalisation of Higher Education in Partner countries. Any of the approved projects will also be supported by the Communication Office and other structures of the University deemed necessary. All reports and outputs will be used in the Quality System.
The participation of UE in international projects will permit the development of 1st
cycle, advanced training and lifelong programmes in articulation with the productive sectors, particularly in the areas of strategic development of the region; creation of scholarships for students and researchers of high potential; internships and master’s and doctoral thesis in a business context in order to attract more students and the retraining and development support to vulnerable social groups. The support of the Erasmus programme will be essential for the development of these goals and for the international promotion of these measures as well as the increasing of joint degrees in expertise areas.
In terms of impact on improving the quality of higher education, we expect that the participation of students and staff in mobility programmes will enable an enhancement of student culture and multiculturalism as well the improvement of the curriculum and the development of new teaching methods. The cooperation and development of projects with partners in 3rd
countries will permit the increasing of the use of new methods and technologies of teaching like e-learning and b-learning and informal distance learning (MOOCs).
By the involvement in networks we want to increase the participation of foreign teachers and researchers integrated in well classified research centers with an excellent expertise in scientific areas of common interest and the promotion of interconnectivity between the upgrade of research and internalisation as well as the increase of number of joint master and doctoral degrees. The scientific and technological international environment will facilitate the integration of soft skills in the current training plans as well as the definition of training structures with transversal components, already underway, providing an innovative training environment at UE.
The participation of UE in the Science and Technology Park of Alentejo and in the Regional System of Technology Transfer will allow strengthen of the connection with national and international enterprises, identifying clusters of excellence in priority areas. These clusters aim to attract high quality experts (brain gain) linking higher education research and business for excellence and regional development. These clusters of excellence support the development of a seeking policy of additional and diversified funding. The consolidation and effective regional impact of some of these steps/measures is only viable in an international context and in contact with a wide network of educational research and technology transfer institutions.
With international cooperation and projects we expect to obtain flexible funding opportunities to facilitate exchange and collaboration with European and non-European partners as well as support the university in internationalisation strategy development.