Improving European exchange semester for engineering students
Finding the best way to run a large international network, making new connections and planning for a future of even tighter cooperation and exchange, were the focus areas at the European Project Semester (EPS) Annual Providers Meeting in Oslo.
The European Project Semester (EPS) is an international exchange program created with engineering students in mind, but other students who can participate in an engineering project are also welcome.
The EPS network is composed of the 19 institutions across 12 European countries that offer the program.
´The EPS Annual Providers Meeting is a way for members to come together to map out the challenges we face, and the opportunities we can take advantage of in an increasingly international and rapidly changing landscape in higher education,´ says Tulpesh Patel, head of the EPS program at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA).
´Annual meetings like this help us building scaffolding for stronger, more effective network and a better EPS and international experience for our students.´
The best way to run a large network
At the 2017-meeting in October important discussions were held about the formalities of running such a large international network:
What kind of organizational structure is necessary to effectively coordinate different interests and activities, without losing what makes the EPS so special, namely the diversity of the members and their respective interests, characteristics and cultures?
Connections and relationships
The meeting also provided the opportunity to establish personal connections and build relationships between academic staff that have similar teaching and research interests.
A part of the program, for example, included a tour of some of HiOA’s engineering laboratories and facilities, including the Climate lab in the Department of Civil Engineering and Energy Technology, and the Makerspace.
Revamped web portal and new working groups
´As a result of this meeting we now have a platform for both developing concrete measures like a revamped common EPS web portal for students and for those interested in the EPS scheme, and working groups will explore, amongst other things how to strategically and responsibly expand the number of member institutions, ´ says Tulpesh Patel.
Focus on the taught aspects
As well as continuing to work on a strategy policy for the network, developing more effective ways of sharing and communicating information, and marketing the EPS to students and industrial partners, a new working group was established that will focus on the taught aspects of the EPS, looking into for example how teachers across European institutions can more effectively exchange ideas for best practice, both in terms of guest lectures and workshops, and quality assurance of grading and assessment.
These measures and practices are part of the core of internationalization for staff and students.
All member institutions represented
´That all member institutions were represented is a testament to the importance of the EPS programme, and the enthusiasm that exists for investing in its future, ´ says Tulpesh Patel.
´It was intense two days, with many things to discuss and actions to decide on, but the feedback from the participants has been overwhelmingly positive.´.
Important decisions were made about the future of the EPS network, but there was also time for the participants to take in some of the views and artworks that Oslo is famous for.