What is the shortest path between teachers wishing to teach abroad under the Erasmus+ programme and institutions interested in hosting foreign lecturers? How can such a “matchmaker” tool change our way of thinking? What does the publication of a structured offer have to do with implementing an institutional strategy?
An interview with Ignacio Rodriguez Alvarez, Policy Advisor internationalisation at the University of Alcalá
Receiving foreign guest teachers is often unplanned and random in many universities. It is also common that there is no standard institutional procedure for dealing with them. In the Teach With Erasmus+ project, the University of Alcalá has tested the new platform that (besides many other features) allows higher education institutions to publish their offers to incoming teachers in a transparent and accessible way.
The Erasmus+ Teaching Mobility Platform (ETMP) helps institutions and academics interested in teaching mobility to find each other, connecting supply and demand. The lecturers can view the offers of the universities, while the institutions can search through the uploaded profiles of the teachers. The more people use the platform, the more efficient it works. A large number of users are needed to have a broad choice on both sides, which can make the platform functional.
“We created a pilot focusing on teaching mobility for incoming teachers,” said Mr. Rodriguez. Previously, the University of Alcalá had no channel to promote these grant opportunities in such a structured manner. Both incoming and outgoing teaching mobility was mostly based on personal working connections and individual initiatives. However, we could only get an idea of the motivation, quality, and impact of teaching mobility if guest teachers’ hosting is organised at the institutional level.
Of course, not all university lecturers are equally motivated. The willingness to participate in teaching mobility activities and international cooperation depends largely on the subject area, language skills, the level of scholarship, or other personal considerations. The University’s aim now is to increase the number of available scholarships and, in particular, to receive more foreign teachers into the Alcalá community.
“To bring the ETMP platform to life, it is necessary to convince stakeholders, including our own staff and partners, to use it. The more we use it with different partners, the more information it will contain and the more worthwhile it will be to search for opportunities on it.”
Using the platform requires a change of attitude on both sides. Academics have to make a detailed presentation of themselves, while universities have to formulate a new type of offer: they need to define their ideal candidates precisely in terms of skills, experience, fields of study, and professional focus.
“We launched an internal call within the institution, proposing new modules involving foreign teachers. The call resulted in 14 new subjects being added to the offer. These subjects formed the backbone of our winter school. The Alcalá staff members responsible for these subjects were asked to map the needs and draft the profile of potential candidates.”
In June and July 2022, The University of Alcalá will offer hybrid modules to students, involving 35 to 56 foreign lecturers. Are you ready to be one of them? Please check the offer of the University of Alcalá, published recently on the ETMP platform!
Promoting the ETMP platform (and the outcomes of the Teach With Erasmus+ project in general) is not only aimed at incoming mobility but also the entire university community. It is also a helpful reference for outgoing teachers.
At the University of Alcalá, the approach is to make the tool known to all concerned without making it obligatory, even though the use of the platform is compulsory for the winter school modules already mentioned. It is hoped that this will also strengthen the institutional internationalisation at home strategy, an essential part of which is to host more foreign teachers.