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Previous Participants Comments

Mary Stott, Head of Service Delivery, IT Services

Victoria Strudwick, Senior Liaison Officer, International Office

Michael Waterson, Professor, Economics Department

Mary Stott, Head of Service Delivery, IT Services

Where did you go?

Turku, Finland

What did you do?

Interviewed staff at Abo Academi and Turku Uni about their IT service provision, in particular services to students

Did you have any concerns before you went?

I wanted it to be useful for my hosts as well as for me.

What did you learn?

That Finnish universities face similar challenges to those at Warwick

What is your best memory?

The session with the head of the Learning Centre at Abo - we scheduled 1 hour but talked for 3!

What benefits were there for you and your department?

The visits gave me a new perspective on some current issues and I will apply them at work

What would your top tips be for people thinking about doing the Erasmus Staff Training in the future?

1. Discuss your activity with your hosts in advance so that both sides are clear about the purpose of the visit

2. Take advantage of International Office materials about the country, educational system etc for background

3. Give yourself time for informal contact as well as formal

4. Apply - it's a great opportunity



Victoria Strudwick, Senior Liaison Officer, International Office

Where did you go?

I spent four days working with colleagues in the International Relations Office at Ca' Foscari University, Venice, with whom Warwick recently signed a collaboration agreement to enable Warwick students and staff using the Warwick in Venice facility to integrate with the local student body and researchers working in their area respectively

What did you do?

As well as spending some time with my opposite number in International Relations exchanging experiences of implementing internationalisation strategies and comparing institutional structures, I also met with those responsible for Erasmus programmes in order to revive the existing student exchange agreements we have with Ca' Foscari and consider possible new exchanges. I visited some of the student facilities which our students will be able to use under the new agreement, including their humanities library and student canteens. I also visited another study centre in Italy run by an Australian partner university in order to compare experiences of running centres in Italy and see whether there was scope for joint activity.

Did you have any concerns before you went?

My main concern was trying to ensure that I got as much out of my visit as possible during the short time I was there, as there was a lot to discuss!

What did you learn?

I learned about the differences between the organisational structures of the two universities and about the approach which Ca' Foscari is taking towards internationalisation, which is quite different to Warwick's because of the difference in the governance  of universities in Italy and their historical development.

What is your best memory?

I was really impressed by my visit to their Faculty of Economics, which is based in Venice's old abbatoir and has been really sympathetically converted into a mini-campus, complete with a dedicated Economics library and its own student and staff bar. In one of the lecture theatres, they'd retained the railing on which the carcasses used to be transported around the abbatoir and even left some of the meat hooks in place - very authentic!   If I'm honest though, my best memory is of the ice-cream.

What benefits were there for you and your department?

I was able to achieve a lot more in terms of implementing the terms of our agreement than I would have been able to just by email correspondence and phone calls, because I could email colleagues back at Warwick and ask questions about how to progress, then discuss the answers with Ca' Foscari colleagues in 'real time'. You understand a lot more when you can read people's body language and it helps to counteract any language barriers and avoid misunderstandings which might arise in written or phone communication. I also agreed with my host that we would continue a 'language exchange' after the visit by consulting each other on translation issues where they arose, which I am sure will prove very helpful!

What would your top tips be for people thinking about doing the Erasmus Staff Training in the future?

Make sure that there are clear benefits for both sides in your visit and agree the objectives with your host in advance, so that you don't feel like you're imposing and they don't feel like your visit is a waste of their time

Speak the host's language as much as possible in order to meet them on their own terms ('when in Rome', and all that...), but also offer to spend some time allowing your host to practise their English or proof read their publications in English - the chance to converse with a mother tongue English speaker is often appreciated and a nice way of repaying the hospitality!

Anything else you would like to share?

My host offered at the end of the visit to send me a map of the best ice cream parlours in Venice - I should have asked for it at the start of the visit!


Michael Waterson, Professor, Economics Department

Where did you go?

To Stavanger in Norway

What did you do?

I worked with an academic there, Prof Mari Rege, and with a PhD student of hers, Ingeborg Solli

Did you have any concerns before you went?

Only slight; I had not met either before, although I had corresponded with both (with Ingeborg many times)

What did you learn?

I learned a great deal more about the data that we will be working with, through going through things with Ingeborg.  I also learned more about the types of work their group does more generally and something about the teaching structures.  I also learned significantly about the "Norwegian way", that is there is a compliance culture in Norway which seems very widely shared and is unlike the Anglo-Saxon culture and approach to legislation.  But I also learned that compliance is not complete, although they would like it to be

What benefits were there for you and your department?

The benefit to me was progressing the work we had been talking about for some time and gaining more of a shared perspective on it.