UO at the Forefront of Internationalisation in Poland

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The UO at the forefront of internationalisation in Poland: about PLN 1.5 million for Erasmus+ exchanges with countries all over the world - a success from last year repeated.

The Office of Research and International Relations team has been awarded funding under the Erasmus+ Key Action 107 for mobilities with partner countries from outside the EU. Halina Palmer-Piestrak, with the help of coordinators in units interested in such international cooperation, applied for visits of university teachers and students to and from 26 countries, which meant the submission of 26 separate applications. Mobility with some countries was requested on the basis of contacts and initiatives by university scholars.

In total, the Erasmus+ National Agency highly rated 25 applications and awarded funding for 129 mobilities. Students shall receive five-month grants, and the financing of staff mobility is provided on a weekly basis. Both students and staff members are entitled to a standard travel allowance.

Our students will spend five months in countries such as Albania, Montenegro, Israel or Serbia, and our guests will come (apart from those mentioned) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iran, Cambodia, Nepal, Russia, and the United States. Staff members' mobility programme comprises  Albania, Armenia, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Serbia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, the United States of America and Vietnam.

New to this project are internships. In cooperation with the Section for International Studies and the Erasmus+ Project Office of the University of Opole, the Careers Service has prepared an internship programme for students of partner universities in Albania, Iran and Israel in the area of languages, social sciences, humanities and arts, as well as agriculture. It will result in the admission of trainees for next year's holidays (summer 2019), who will carry out internships in companies in Opole. One intern will also go on an internship to Israel.

Last year, we received funding for mobilities with 21 countries, thus ranking 6th in Poland, taking into account the amount of funding obtained by all the applicant universities. As a result of the applications submitted this year, we were ranked 7th. We are delighted with the continued high evaluation of our applications. However, coordinating this number of mobilities is a major challenge and requires a great deal of commitment from all parties involved in the project. ’ We are already very grateful for the cooperation and excited about the perspective,’ admits Halina Palmer-Piestrak.

In the academic year 2017-2018 alone (the project has been implemented cyclically since 2015), 38 scholars visited the University of Opole under Key Action 107, and 14 students took part in the studies. We arranged 32 staff and 2 student trips.

‘The benefits of the project are obvious,’ adds Dr Michał Wanke, coordinator of the Office for International Studies and author of many applications. ‘Our study programmes in English are supplemented by teachers from the USA, Japan, Malaysia and India, and our classes are attended by an even more diverse group of students. This year they will be joined by Albanians and Americans. In April, we will organize another International Week, slowly becoming a small interlink of the world's academic network. This grant allows us to establish relations with new centres, which result in the arrival of students not only for the mobilities, but also for studies (mainly master's studies) and summer schools. For example, a group of students from the University of Bravinjaya in Indonesia came to study English and intercultural competences immediately after their visit and short courses at their university, which we conducted with Dr Stankomir Nicieja. One of these students has enrolled for a Master's degree programme in Intercultural Communication. The KA107 project allows us to be present on new educational markets and develop the international University of Opole. This cooperation is immediately followed by scientific research. After the visit of our Iranian colleagues to the Institute of Sociology, we published two articles in an Iranian journal and launched a joint research project on the social and cultural traces of the so-called Odyssey of Poles returning from Siberia to join General Anders' army. KA107 is a collaboration tool - the next challenge is to continue it,’ said Dr Wanke.

The project's budget amounts to over 340,000 Euros, and the mobilities will be implemented after signing an agreement with the Erasmus+ National Agency in the academic year 2018-2019.