Internal knowledge sharing and persistent internationalisation efforts play a prominent role at the University of Pécs. To this end, internal trainings have been launched here, which have grown into a stable, confident project called the Internationalisation Academy over the years. But how is this project structured, and what impact does it have on the institution? Dr István Tarrósy, International Director of PTE and Péter Árvai, Deputy Director answered our questions.
When and for what purpose did the Internationalisation Academy start at the University of Pécs?
Dr István Tarrósy: In 2000, after the integration of higher education, the predecessor of this project was already established, but much has changed over the years. A Directorate for International Relations has been established with the basic concept of extending the knowledge and relationships held by colleagues to the whole institution, learning from others, and thus being better together – so that the whole institution can have a more visible and competitive position in the domestic and international environment. Until now, we have launched several internal trainings, called the Internationalisation .
How are the topics and speakers selected?
Péter Árvai: Here, we can separate three categories. There are pre-planned, fixed topics since internationalisation often involve specific tasks. University colleagues also often give lectures on these occasions, but we also invite external speakers, for example, from the regional office of the Directorate-General for Aliens. Another option is to send one of our colleagues to an international conference or training specifically to give a lecture on their knowledge acquired abroad following their return.
The workshops are in the third category, where the specific aim is to discuss a particular period or a particular topic. Last year, our previous strategic cycle of internationalisation finished, and we used the Academy to prepare the new strategy. With the involvement of approximately fifty administrative colleagues, we organised a series of workshops on various topics within the framework of the Internationalisation Academy, setting goals and expectations for ourselves for the next 4-5 years.
Who is the target group of the Internationalisation Academy?
Péter Árvai: Primarily colleagues dealing with internationalisation. They are a diverse group of people in several ways. Some of them are specifically engaged in student recruitment; others participate in mobility or training programmes.
Dr István Tarrósy: At the institutional level, there are direct relationships with faculty leaders; therefore, obviously, deans and deputy deans also appear at the Academy from time to time. Most recently, for example, the dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Public Administration presented the joint diploma programmes of the two faculties. Anyone can join the training. If a colleague feels that they need training in the financial field, they can join a lecture on this topic. Nothing is mandatory; there are possibilities. Possibilities for discussion and training.
Initially, these events took place live, but the Academy also moved to the virtual space due to the virus situation. Which solution do you consider more effective?
Dr István Tarrósy: The Academy works great in the online space as well. Moreover, in some cases, these occasions are even more fast-paced and organised. Of course, this is not necessarily better since it is more ideal when we meet physically and have personal contact, but the task is often more specific online.
Péter Árvai: This new situation was also a challenge, which is why we asked for help from a work- organisation psychology facilitator at work, who introduced methods that we could use for more effective cooperation.
Has the concept changed from the start in recent years?
Dr István Tarrósy: The internal knowledge sharing as a concept has not changed; it is only continuously building along with certain topics, needs and current tasks. Of course, we are constantly polishing the organisation, but the main idea remains the same: together we are better, stronger and more competitive.
Does the Academy have a noticeable impact at the institutional level?
Dr István Tarrósy: On the one hand, its impact can be seen in the realisation of the institutional strategic programme, the aim of which is internationalisation itself. In the continuous, increasingly professional elaboration of this, we can see the success of the Academy as a result of its realisation.
In addition, there is positive feedback from colleagues. Newcomers are almost obliged to attend the lectures of the Academy; thus, the efficiency of work and joint thinking has increased prominently. Since this project has been going on, I can see that there has been a much more integrated culture of cooperation at the operational and human levels at PTE.
Péter Árvai: I think the best measure of success is demand: colleagues are constantly looking forward to the events of the Academy, suggesting topics and attending lectures with pleasure. This is very important feedback.
What are the long-term plans for the project?
Dr István Tarrósy: We participate in a project of the European Universities programme. We are members of the European Digital UniverCity (EDUC) consortium, one of the aims of which is to create a unified strategic framework for six European universities, in which, for example, the Academy could be a tool for all of us. I, therefore, consider this practice in Pécs to be taken further, even at the European level.
Péter Árvai: Without hypocrisy, we can say that the Academy of Internationalisation is pretty much ready. The job is to sustain it, keep it and carry on. No significant development has to be done, but if it is needed, colleagues will let us know about it, anyway.
Interview by Felícia Deme | Tempus Public Foundation | Directorate for Higher Education
Last modified: 17-12-2021