Blowin’ in the wind…

When landing in Bodö airport the pilots always do a ‘whoop’ so the plane kind of jumps sideways onto the landing strip- doing it ‘the Bodö way’ they say to adjust to the winds and weather…

A student told me that if it should stop blowing, the people of Bodö would probably fall flat on the ground…as they always lean towards the windJ

I had the opportunity to visit University Nord for a few days in late April, to initiate a possible academic collaboration and to get to know of the activities there. What met me there was a newly built university with modern architecture and a highly technological library- Norway certainly has economic resources!

The University offers a bachelor’s program in nursing which is conducted in 9 different campuses. It has a catchment area the size of Sweden’s Norrlands landscape- Huge!

In campus Bodö, they also offer two Masters programs focusing on clinical Nursing and on research and science training which currently have 22 students. PhD students are also connected. The department offers research training which currently have 6 PhD students. Nursing and caring science have had a period of re-ignition at this University and they have recruited professionals from other Nordic countries to initiate higher education and research. Here, they collaborate with the European College of Caring Sciences (EACS) as well as with the Nordic College of Caring Sciences (NCCS). These organizations collaborate with the intent to provide a pool of expertise and knowledge related to improving health and care. The task of EACS and NCCS is to develop, support and disseminate new scientific knowledge nationally and internationally, and NCCS strives to represent Nordic health researchers’ interests.

During my days in Bodö, there was a meeting when people from all the University campuses gathered for joint work, lectures and presentations, together with researchers and professionals from the Nordic countries. Some flew in from the outer islands in the Lofoten archipelago and others travelled hours by trains or cars over the snowy mountains to join the event.

It is quite exotic as the weather may change 10 times a day and wherever you are positioned in Bodö you have the remarkable sharp and snowy mountains in front of you as well as the wild and powerful Atlantic ocean rolling. A small city with wild nature and lovely culture, and a University that is worth a visit!

Albertine Ranheim, Division of Nursing, Karolinska Institute




International Collaboration on University Safety – the start-up

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London in late February is a pleasant change from a cold and grey Stockholm. Although the skies were also grey, London had a distinct springfeeling with flowering camellias and the lawns of Kensington park coloured violet by masses of crocuses.

As fitting for an attendee of a safety meeting, I was woken up by the fire alarm, OO-EE-OO-EE-OO-EE-OO! In a daze, I grabbed my boots, jacket and handbag, and also my glasses, without which I cannot see properly, and ran out into the corridor where I met the other guests, like me wide-eyed, in their pajamas and morning coiffures. Fortunately for everyone, it was a false alarm. Burnt bacon had generated smoke that caused the alarm to go off in the kitchen and we could return to our rooms.

I had come to London in order to network with experts in the field of laboratory safety. Imperial College, with its impressing campus in south Kensington in central London, was hosting a meeting titled “Safety: the Human Perspective” and professionals from the USA, The Netherlands and the UK had gathered for seminars on various safety aspects in university settings. The Chancellor of UCLA was there to present their work conducted in the wake of the fatal chemistry accident in 2008, as well as the Rector Magnificus of the University of Delft who described a devastating fire that very same year. Seminars ranged from reports and analyses of real accidents to behavioural psychology , how to prevent accidents and how to promote safe workplaces.

In the late afternoon, I met with representatives from Imperial College, University of Delft and UCLA to discuss future collaboration. We discussed common challenges, made a list of priorities and a plan of coming activities and even came up with a short and descriptive name for the newly started venture -“International Collaboration on University Safety”.

The next day, me and a colleague from the University of Delft, joined a laboratory safety inspection in one the laboratories at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College, followed by a general tour of the laboratory buildings. The recognition factor is high in laboratories all over the world. This was no exception. The same types of flasks & beakers, pipettes and equipment, even the furniture were familiar, as well as the smell of agar plates. It was nice to see that laboratory safety was considered a serious matter by everyone, including faculty, and I had a very good impression of the safety culture at Imperial College. I got a few good ideas for improvement of laboratory safety that are easy to implement by just looking around.

After a long day I headed back to Heathrow and Stockholm with tired feet and an inspired mind full of new impressions.

Examples of Student Exchange Programmes

SHARE is one of the international cooperation programmes that Hue University currently participates in. It is funded by the EU, and among other things it enables for students from Hue to carry out a mobility period in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region through the credit transfer system. During the coming semester, three students from Hue University will travel abroad for an exchange study period (to Malaysia and Thailand) and seven students from Indonesia and Myanmar will spend the spring semester at Hue University. The students will arrive this week to settle in and start their exchange studies here. SHARE is a programme at university level, which means that any student from a member university can apply for a scholarship. It is quite popular to apply for an exchange programme where there is a scholarship attached, as it otherwise is very expensive for a student to travel abroad.

Member universities also have their own exchange programmes. Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy (Hue UMP), Faculty of Public Health Sciences, has for a long time had an exchange programme with universities in Thailand. It is a two-week long exchange programme, which includes both academic and cultural experiences. During the summer, ca 15-20 students together with 2-3 staff from Hue travel to Thailand for a two-week exchange programme, and then during the following semester a group from Thailand visit Hue.

Every year, a small group of undergraduate students in health sciences from Queensland University of Technology in Australia visit the faculty, for shorter clinical placements both in Hue and in more remote areas. The placements are done together with local students from the university, for peer learning and also interpretation.

Hue UMP has had an exchange agreement within Biomedical Laboratory Sciences together with Karlstad University through the Linnaeus-Palme programme, but for several reasons unfortunately the programme has currently been paused. I understand that there is a great interest and motivation at Hue UMP in finding new ways to cooperate and exchange ideas, experiences and best practices with local and international partners.


Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy

During my last weeks in Hue I will be at one of Hue University’s member universities Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy. The university was established in 1957, and today it consists of 7 faculties.

Hue Institute for Community Health Research (ICHR) is a research institute situated at the Faculty of Public Health, where I have been able to jobshadow staff and carry out interviews. The mission of ICHR is “to improve quality of scientific community health research, to apply research findings to the community healthcare practice, to provide training and technical support for improving research capability and evaluation of community health services among 5 provinces in Central and Highland area of Vietnam” (source). There is so much interesting collaboration and ongoing research projects at ICHR!

I was also invited to participate in the preparatory Master’s class in Biostatistics, a course held in English. 10 already graduated students were able to prepare possible research topics, which will be presented and defended at a “jury meeting” later this week. Today’s class was to prepare them for the “real” meeting, so together with the fellow students, I had to comment on their presentations and give feedback. The students who do the best both topicwise and with a well-prepared presentation will later be offered the possibility of participating in the two-year long Master’s programme, where part of the programme is spent in Hue and the other in Sassari, Italy.    // Karin

Career is everybody’s business….

Emma Hägg, Career Programme Manager, participated in staff training at European Academy in Berlin December 5-6.

A diverse group of participants from Holland, UK, Switzerland, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania and Italy met up in a chilly Berlin to attend the European Academy’s two day programme on the topic “Developing student’s employability”.

United Kingdom in the lead
First presenter and Chair Keith Herrmann from University of Surrey (UK) presented the context and key differentiators for career services with a focus on the United Kingdom. UK is in many ways in the fore front in Europe when it comes to career development for students.

National league tables where employability is an important factor are essential for the leaderships at the universities in UK, as they are competing for students. Parents are to a greater part choosing universities based on if their children will get jobs. Surveys following up on students after graduating are central and there is a strong connection to the Alumni Offices in this aspect. The data and metrics from career activities and follow up surveys are important for communicating both internally as well as externally the importance career services’ work play in graduates’ entry to the job market.

CRM – helpful technology
One way of handling metrics and also coordinating contacts both internally and externally is through a customer relations management system (CRM). One session focused on a Swiss example. Mark Kühne Director of Career Center University in St Gallen, shared best practice from when they built and implemented their own CRM together with their Alumni Office. Now (a few years down the road) they have a great platform for students, companies and alumni to access services and to network. Still there is development to be done and you need to offer unique services on the platform in order to keep the users active.

Amber Wigmore Alvarez at the IE Business School also addressed the importance of adopting new technology when presenting the impressive development and work of her unit. She also stressed the importance of communicating your efforts and results. Thi makes all parts of the university aware of your work and value, also the students. Also in being creative and innovative in the offer of career services, using technology, you can catch the student’s attention and they are more likely to get engaged.

Award them to engage them
Student engagement was touched upon many times during these two days. Naomi Oosman Watts from Newcastle University presented a nice example in a session on how the trend of “skill awards” is spreading among British universities. Awards are a way of catching students attention and engaging them in career activities that will be beneficial for them when entering the job market. Newcastle presented and interesting example of an award for extracurricular activities. The Newcastle Award encourages students to articulate their skills and make use of their extracurricular activities during studies for their future graduate careers. Their award consists of 50 hours extracurricular activities of almost any kind and two workshops. The first workshop focus on goal setting and the practicalities related to the award. They must set three personal goals for themselves. The second workshop focus on the articulation of skills preparing for the assessment where they define three skills they have developed during their participation in the award. Even though employers do not recognize the award as such they value the employability skills that the students have gained from the award. The award concept fuels student engagement and is an interesting alternative to regular career courses as it is sometimes difficult to fit these into the curriculum.

Irith Kist, Project Manager Dual Career/Dutch Olympic committee, put us participants in the shoes of our own students for a while sharing some of her career planning workshop exercises. This was was very interesting and made us better understand the difficulties our students sometimes are struggling with. Engagement is not always for fun. Setting goals and verbalizing your thoughts and dreams are also difficult.

Unite for career
All in all career is something that is or at least should be everybody’s business at the university! If we look at the “circle of the student”, beginning with the prospective student – registered student – graduate and finally alumni – the alumni in the world of work is in fact inspiring a new prospective student! An inspiring career is the successful outcome of education and unarguably that is definetly everybodys business at the university…

Collaborating more within the university and with employers, with the future careers of our students in mind should be what we all strive for – because career is everybody’s business!

Living in a family

You will find plenty of options for short-term accommodation in Hue;  hostels, hotels at different price ranges as well as homestays. In order for me to experience more of  Vietnamese culture and traditions, I decided to look for housing in a family in Hue. I was very lucky to find my accommodation in a family, whose house is situated in a calm alley close to the river, 5 minutes walk from the university, the university hospital and a lot of nice cafés. I have my own room and bathroom en suite, and a lovely balcony with a small bouganvillea in a pot, which I enjoyed during the first sunny days in Hue.

The family consists of a father, a mother, a son, a grandmother and a maid whose main job is to care for the 93-year old grandmother, who still has perfect sight and hearing and who keeps track of the books every day.

Except for the son and the father, the knowledge of English in the family is very low, so I need to use a lot of body language, and also at times google translate, in order to communicate with the others. They are extremely kind and hospitable, and often invite me to try their food, talk about daily life in Hue, and give good recommendations for places to see and where to eat.

The house has a lovely garden with a small pond, and on top of the roof the family grow their herbs and vegetables. I think, from what I’ve seen, that this is quite a typical family house in central Hue.


Part of my job as an International Coordinator is to update the websites related to exchange studies and studying abroad on KIs website. I also produce information for the digital screens found around campus, and am the editor of the “Newsletter for International Students at KI”.

This is one of the topics that I have been discussing with Ms H, responsible for communications at the Department of International Cooperation. She has an interest in starting a newsletter, especially with focus on the international students that study at Hue University.  I was able to share a few examples of the ones that we have produced. Not only for students at our university, but also the welcoming newsletter that we distribute to the incoming exchange students. She also suggested that a newsletter might be useful to send to partner universities to promote ongoing matters at a regular basis, which I think is quite an interesting idea and I will bring that back with me to discuss with my colleagues.

I brought with me the business cards to promote our global programmes, with links to the useful website as well as a QR code, which led to an interesting conversation on one way to promote edcuation to students.

Hue University will celebrate 60 years next year 2017 and Ms H is currently busy with writing articles, doing interviews and editing all the material for the jubilee magazine due to be published in March. In relation to this, we had an engaging discussion about the a visual identity for a university or business in general, when it comes to graphic profiles and promotional colour/s.