AUA in Spain: Representatives Participate in Erasmus+ BOOST Study Tour to the University of Rovira i Virgili
TARRAGONA, Spain – On June 24-28, 2019, representatives of the American University of Armenia (AUA) took part in a four-day Erasmus+ BOOST Study Tour at the University of Rovira i Virgili (URV). The tour coincided with URV’s International Staff Week and the final conference of the Erasmus+ Systemic University Change Towards Internationalization (SUCTI) project. This was an excellent opportunity for the consortium partners to learn about the SUCTI outcomes and network with staff from higher educational institutions (HEIs) around the world. The visit was dedicated to the issues related to the creation or operationalization of International Cooperation Offices (ICO) and communication strategies for the internationalization of HEIs.
URV Vice-Rector for Internationalization, Dr. John Style, and URV Director of International Relations, Marina Casals, welcomed the participants. Casals presented the main goals of internationalization, the department’s structure, and functions, and best practices, addressing the current global trends in internationalization of HEIs, the challenges imposed by changing global demographics, increasing student mobility, presenting higher education as a global market, and the associated demand from employers. She elaborated on the centralized and decentralized models of ICOs duly discussing the structure and functions of each model.
“All University structures and institutions are built out of people and relationships between people. So, the importance of the International Staff Week is to bring people together so that they can build better university structures,” noted Dr. Style.
The BOOST Study Tour covered the examination of diverse topics, including comprehensive internationalization, communications strategies for internationalization, and best practices in internationalization. Through workshops, poster presentation, and working sessions, the tour created the right platform for the consortium partners to share their ideas, and present their distinct priorities and strategies for internationalization. BOOST partners presented their ICOs, their structures and functions, number of employees, and the types of activities they performed. They spoke about the existing challenges and shared the achievements of their respective departments. At the poster presentation, BOOST partners talked about communication strategies practiced in their respective institutions.
On June 26, an international coffee break took place at URV where the participants of International Staff Week and BOOST consortium members shared national foods from their countries. “The BOOST Study Tour allowed me and my colleagues to think beyond the term ‘internationalization’ and define exactly what it means for our university. Providing a western-style education in Armenia is an important step forward toward internationalization of our University but there is so much more that can be done. We currently have 12% of international students body and aim to increase that number to 20%. The BOOST Study Tour provided us with the opportunity to hear best practices from partners from around the world and to clearly define the actions we need to undertake to achieve our goal,” mentioned Narek Ghazaryan, AUA Director of Communications.
The final conference of SUCTI, a three-year initiative within Erasmus+ Key Action 2 Strategic partnership for higher education, took place on June 27. Following the opening remarks by the Secretary for University and Research of the Catalan Government, Dr. Francesc Xavier Grau Vidal, and URV Rector, Dr. Maria Jose Figueras Salvat, Casals, who is also the SUCTI project coordinator, presented the goals/objectives of the project, its partners and trainers. During the conference round table discussions, the trainers shared their thoughts on the project, its outcomes, as well as the challenges they have faced.
A coordination meeting of BOOST project partners was held at the conclusion of the Study Tour, where the partners discussed the next steps, including the development of the internationalization platform, indicators, and quality assurance activities.
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.