This year, the Tampere3 higher education institutions organised the International Staff Week for the first time as a joint endeavour. Over forty administrators from other European higher education institutions came to learn about the universities in Tampere during the Erasmus+ staff exchange week.
The participants were mainly international coordinators, librarians, and career and study services employees. About ten staff members from the Tampere3 higher education institutions also participated.
“Last year, the University of Tampere (UTA) and Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) joined forces in the organisation of the Staff Week, and this year Tampere University of Technology (TUT) also took part. We were thus able to organise the staff exchange week in a true Tampere3 spirit,” says Laura Lalu, international coordinator at the University of Tampere.
The programme included visits to all three higher education institutions, workshops and social programme such as going to a Finnish sauna at the Varala Sports Institute.
Doing things together means creating a new workplace culture
Already previously, all three higher education institutions have organised similar events: UTA since 2009 and TAMK since 2008. TUT has also arranged international weeks, but each of the institutions has had different ways of doing them. The organisers are now hoping that the joint Erasmus Staff Week could be repeated.
According to international coordinator Tiina Nilsson from TAMK, it was easy to organise the Staff Week.
“The cooperation and organisation ran really smoothly. The participants gave positive feedback on small details, such as the carefully planned schedules,” Nilsson says.
“Working together with colleagues from the other Tampere3 universities is a good way to build a new workplace culture for Tampere3,” says Annukka Hämäläinen, coordinator of the Partnerships Office at TUT.
Participants were interested in Tampere3 and cooperation with businesses
The participants were very interested in the Tampere3 cooperation and the opportunities afforded by the new university. For example, many found the Y-kampus, which is a joint project of all three institutions, a fascinating concept and they asked many further questions about it.
“One participant said that they were undertaking a corresponding project at her home university and she wanted to exchange contact details so that we may cooperate in the future, for example organise student exchange. At their best, staff exchange weeks produce such new openings,” Nilsson says.
In addition to Tampere3 and the Y-kampus, the visitors were also interested in Tampere and Finland because they find the country exotic and because the Finnish educational system has received favourable comments all over Europe. Many were interested to see how things are done here.
“Integrating entrepreneurship and university studies seemed to be very interesting to them. Entrepreneurship is a topical theme everywhere,” Lalu says.
Benchmarking at its best
International staff exchange weeks are a good way to learn how things are done elsewhere and how work methods could be developed at one’s own institution. The coordinators of the Staff Week recommend that the Tampere3 employees also participate in similar weeks abroad.
“Because one of the motives in founding Tampere3 is to improve the University’s international competitiveness, international cooperation and benchmarking are so much more important to us,” Hämäläinen says.
“Of course, challenges are also involved. For example, teachers may find it hard to find someone else to fill in during their absence. The structures should support and enable such visits more easily. Facilitating measures have already been undertaken at TAMK and it is good that we cooperate and learn from each other,” Hämäläinen adds.
Text: Ida Vahtera