This report shows what the international committee in STA has been working on and achieving during the academic year 2019/2020. This is not a formal STA document, but made from engagement by the committee. The committee hopes this information will clarify, help and engage other students, both active students and students who are not as active in the student democracy or student activities at UiA.
This committee is a group of volunteers working with the international aspect at UiA on the behalf of the student democracy.
If you have any questions to this report, please contact the STA Board.
Table of contents
- Mandate for the committee
- Committee coordinator
- The international voice in the democracy at UiA
- Virtual exchange
- Events and meetings
- Collaboration with the STA’s committee for sustainability
- The leader’s words to the committee
Susann Kvam, Andrea W. Johansen (coordinator), Marie Nørvåg and Vestein L. Lauritsen
Lead by this year’s vice president of STA: Olea M. Norset
Vestein L. Lauritsen withdrew from the position in January.
From 07.10.2019 to 19.05.2020 there have been 14 meetings held.
During the Covid-19 university shut-down, meetings have been held digitally on Teams.
The international committee shall participate in designing the policies of STA and shall contribute with their knowledge and work within their field of expertise.
The political committee shall, together with the STA-board, lift cases in STA and be active contributors in designing the politics of their field. Further on, the committee shall contribute to set STA`s politics on UiA`s agenda.
The political committee shall contribute to the revising of STA`s political documents within their field. The deadlines are regulated by STA`s regulations.
The international committee shall be led by STA`s vice-president, unless other decided by the STA-board.
Four (4) representatives shall be elected for the committee.
The committee shall follow up and revise the political document for internationalization.
Early on, the international committee decided to have a coordinator to help the leader out with some of the practicalities of planning and running the committee meetings. The coordinator’s job has been to write agendas before meetings, send out summons, deal with room bookings and lead the meetings. Distributing a bit of the practical workload like this has worked out quite well.
The coordinator has been Andrea Wold Johansen. She has fulfilled her role in an exemplary way.
With a somewhat limited “job description”, this year’s international committee decided to take in a broad overview of our working areas, and create tactics or basis for further tactics in the following areas:
1) How to reach UiA’s goal of 50% student mobility?
Which included work on areas and questions such as: how make study abroad attractive, how to make Europe (and exchange closer to home) a more attractive destination, how to reach the “unusual” exchange student, how to showcase the academic benefit of studying abroad, different types of exchange programs, virtual exchange etc.
2) How the committee could better the situation for international students on exchange at UiA?
Which included work on areas and questions such as: how to increase the international students’ voice in the student democracy, how to better integrate international students with the “regular” student mass, having STA be available for international students, how make sure international students are familiar with their rights etc.
3) Political documents and tasks
We also considered revising our political document (“Politisk dokument for internasjonalisering”). The committee decided not to revise it this year because it had been revised the year before. The committee rather used its recourses to work on STA’s action plan. The committee has also worked on documents for future committees to use as support when continuing the work we have set in motion. In this way we hope to help out the next committee to give them a smoother start and a shorter way to good results.
To better support the international student voice, we have worked with the International Office at UiA to get information on the evaluations that (both incoming and outgoing) exchange students are asked to respond to. We were able to get the evaluation forms and give feedback on the questions and setup. Cooperating with the International Office has been (and will be) a continuous exchange of information, as it is important to understand how the international students feel and think of their situation at UiA. This should be continued in the future by the International Committee, especially after this year´s exchange period which will be heavily affected by Covid-19.
Another important point to make it easier for international students to join the student democracy at UiA is to have documents and such (for example STA reports and meeting minutes) available in English.
We have mapped out some challenges related to international students being class representatives and will continue working towards facilitating this.
We have made a suggestion for the university`s action plan for diversity and equality, that they inspect how they facilitate in a way so that diverse groups of students can take part in, and actually influence, the formal decision making groups at UiA. Language will become an obvious factor in this work. The plan would have been up for a vote in the board for UiA this spring semester. Due to the covid-19 situation it has been postpone. We look forward to see the result and hope for a positive vote on our suggestion.
We started mapping and researching out UiAs position of virtual exchange, as well as Erasmus’s position on this.
It seems most of Erasmus’s virtual exchanges are about creating small and diverse discussion groups, led by a lecturer who offers reflections and points of views to stimulate discussion. The goals of these groups are to broaden cultural understanding and to challenge social norms relating to specific topics. They are (at least mainly) not meant to yield ETCs or certificates.
UiA has so far not shown exceeding interest in working out any virtual exchange programs, and given the work needed by a faculty member we decided to put a pin in this for now, and rather look at different types of short-stay exchanges. However, this may become relevant again in our current global situation, with covid-19 affecting student mobility.
Events and meetings
The committee planned two events at Global Lounge at both campuses, but due to the Corona situation these were cancelled. The events were about making sure that international students at both campuses know their rights and where to go if they’re being unfairly treated. This could definitely be picked up again at a later date as this will stay a relevant issue.
We also discussed the possibility of advertising the fact that STA is present in the Global Lounge every Friday at campus Kristiansand, and that the International committee will be present on some of the Fridays.We were also invited to participate at, and attend, ESN’s annual meeting, which was supposed to be held at UiA from the 19th to the 22nd of March. We made an interactive workshop on how to further the international student voice in the student democracy, where the goal was for the participants to workshop ideas for how to best do this at their study institutions. The workshop also included an informative part where we talked about how this is being done at UiA, with focus on areas that are working and areas that need to improve. Due to Covid-19 the annual meeting was cancelled.
Several members of the international committee represented STA at this year’s Student Conference on student mobility, hosted by the The West University and College Network. There were lectures, workshops and debates by different institutes, such as DIKU, NSO and Universell, which all centered around Norwegian students studying abroad. The conference gave valuable insight in the Norwegian government’s (and UiA’s) goal of 50% student mobility, and inspiration as to how we could better work towards this goal.
We have been working with the university about the possibility of funding a scholarship for sustainable exchange, like a monetary substitute for students wishing to travel “green” to their study institutions for their exchange, modelled after Høgskulen på Vestlandet (HVL)’s current model. This was done in collaboration with the Committee for sustainability, and a suggestion document has been penned.
The committee has been working towards the goals of STA’s action plan, but we have also been actively seeking out issues pertaining international students and their experiences at the university. When students have voiced their concerns to us, we have tried to find solutions, and where that’s not been possible, we have tried to bring said concerns to the right people at the university.
We have discussed and given feedback on the UiA’s Erasmus+ ECHE application (Erasmus Chart for Higher Education) and pushed the importance of enough (and updated) information being conveyed in English to the international students during the corona pandemic.
We have also established a good working relationship with the international office at UiA and with the Global Lounge, and agreed to closer collaboration going forwards a we share many of the same goals and could benefit from each other’s different insights.
The current committee will stay in their positions until the 30th of June, and will use the time left to complete documents and tie up loose ends. Due to the Corona-situation, the function period has also been extended to the 1st of November.
- Article by Andrea W. Johansen “UiA faser ut kontantbetaling – hvem påvirker det?”
- Article by Marie Nørvåg “5 gode grunner til at du burde dra på utveksling!”
- Article by Olea Norset “The truth about the international voice at UiA”: p. 4-5
I want to thank the committee for your great work this past academic year. I appreciate the discussions, questions, in-puts and cooperation, that abled us to solve tasks and projects together. We have established international politics as a bigger part of STA’s daily routines. We have also been nudging UiA and others where we have seen it necessary. I have learned a lot from you and you have been a huge support to both me and the STA board, on international issues and visions at UiA. I hope you continue your engagements in student politics or in your working life. Best wishes to you from me.