It is time to get started building…

In May this year we, Karen Gustafsson and Emma Hägg went to Porto in Portugal together with colleagues from the administration to listen to a presentation of the SUCTI-project. In October we followed up with training in Tarragona.

Porto in May

The presentation in Porto gave us a sneak peak of tools for a course targeting administrative staff. When we went to Porto we already had a vague idea of how this course could be part of the ongoing STINT-funded Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC) project in which the importance of engaging administrative staff has been gradually apparent. You can read more about the event in Porto in the blog “Let’s build human towers…”.

Tarragona in October

Now it is time for the sequel…when dates were announced for the first course to train SUCTI-trainers. We, Emma and Karen signed up. The train the trainers would equip us and train us for giving the course to our colleagues. We would be able to work on our presentation skills, test the tools, get the knowledge and discuss internationalisation with colleagues from other parts of the world.

Off we went 20 October to Tarragona and to the Universitat Roviera I Virgili (URV) for a 5-day intense course. URV had been coordinating the project and hence was the host for this pilot, which was the first “train the trainers” course to be carried out outside the consortium after finalizing the project in June.

Turning particpants into champions

Participants came from Spain, France, the Phillipines and us from Sweden and most universities had sent two or three staff to the training. The course was intense and skipped back and forth between interactive activities and theoretical blocks. The diversity in the group gave fantastic added value as we all came from different backgrounds and with different challenges. In the final session where we all gave presentations one of the participants had the each person in the group say a song that would represent how they felt…we all ended up singing karaoke “We are the champions”….need I say more.

Now it is time to get started building that “human tower”…and to integrate interationalisation into the university…starting with a group of our administrative staff in November…wish us “buena suerte”!

Let’s build human towers!

“All together for internationalisation”. Teamwork is not easy…but it is most often rewarding and the outcome greater than the expectations…

The ongoing STINT-funded IoC-project (Internationalisation of the Curriculum) at Karolinska Institutet has identified the support services as important stakeholders and change agents in the process of integrating internationalisation into the university as a whole. In KIs newly adopted Strategy 2030 one of three strategic directions is “the global university”.

But how to get admin on board and how to get them to meet, communicate, collaborate and feel that they are an integral part of a global university?

Sharing best practice

With this thought in mind five administrative staff with various responsibilities from two different offices; landed in foggy Porto to pick up best practices from the Systemic University Change Towards Internationalisation (SUCTI)-project focusing on how to engage and empower admin staff in internationalisation. Five universities have been working since 2016 in a strategic partnership project supported and cofounded by EAIE and Erasmus+.

The background, context and surveys before and after the SUCTI-project were presented to show the actual impact this training has had on the participants. And indeed, they presented successful results.

SUCTI trainers presented elements from the training in different sessions:

  • Icebreakers for participants in trainings
  • Understanding your university’s position in the world (Rankings)
  • How international (inclusive and communicative) is your university online
  • Identifying with an international student
  • If you were Rector for a day?
  • The importance of teamwork

What we as participants learned during the day was just a sneak peak but really got us thinking about the next steps to take. The final SUCTI conference is 27 June in Tarragona and all material, reports and tools will be made available as the project closes.

The Education Support Office would like to pilot a training in internationalisation with study counsellors with the tools from the project. The pilot, planned for autumn 2019,  might very well be the start of something bigger. Remember the SUCTI-project statement…”all together for internationalisation”.

The joy of teamwork

The SUCTI-trainers all expressed that the best outcomes of the project were learning more about their own university, their colleagues and what they do, the importance of communication and professional development. It was also challenging at times as teamwork most often is!

The parallel to the Tarragona phenomena of the castells (the human towers) makes sense. The success of a castell depends on the contribution of each and every casteller (person in the castell). Likewise, the contributions of each and every member of a university are essential to its internationalisation process. It might sometimes also be hard and frustrating, but the reward is what Fiona Hunter, one of the key people in the project, named “institutional happiness” the joy in sharing effort and success.

With the inspiration from Porto, let’s start building some human towers!

Charlotta Cederberg SPUN, Isabel Johnson SPUN, Karen Gustafsson SPUN/IoC, Emma Hägg IK/SIR and Maria Olsson IK/SER


We made a visit to The National and University Library of Iceland. Guðrún Halldóra Sveinsdóttir was one of our hosts during the visit, a very charming lady with several main tasks in the library such as HR administrator and also responsible for the overall budget and economics.

Guðrún Halldóra Sveinsdóttir

Some facts about the library:

It is the largest library in Iceland with one million items in various collections. It contains almost all published written Icelandic works and manuscript.

They have also a collection of published Icelandic music and other audio

They have to ensure that copy of all published Icelandic material is registered, classified and preserved

There is an agreement with University of Iceland to provide all theoretical material, electronic subscription and they also have education and other services for students and employees of the university.

The organization at the library is divided in four main departments:

  1. Acquisitions and metadata
  2. National collections and digital conversion (containing for example digitalization and photography, conservation and bookbinding
  3. Information and services
  4. Administration and IT

We found it very interesting that we can recognize a lot of this in our own library in KI (KIB)

The library is not a public library but one interesting option they have is that the IT-system is connected and searchable within all university and other library publications. So it´s really easy for visitors to find publications they´re searching for, even other kind of literature than the scientific.

All the main departments have 22 employees each and they also have a property management staff of 4 people.

The total space the library has is as follows:

Thodarbokhlada. 13000kvm  is in 4 floors+basement and have 500 seats for guests

Reykholt, reserve collection 800kvm

Additional storage: 450kvm

IT-department has:

1 employee to take care of 85 staff computers and 100 guest computers

IT-development has a staff of 3

They also provide 25 websites with a total of 1.300.000 visitors / year

Websites include: magazines, maps, books, manuscripts, student final projects, born digital legal deposit.

Open access, free of charge

We got an demonstration of how easy it is to search for a specific thesis, it is a very easy interface to use and quick to find what we searched for.

The library also aim to get equal pay certification spring 2019.

Some statistics: 79 doing 71 jobs, the average employee is 50 years old, 60% women 40% the rest

Sickness absence 4,5%

Inhouse training each year 30% of employee attend work-related seminars, other seminars or conferences

Our host at the University,
Jón Örn Guðbjartsson

Jón Örn Guðbjartsson

The University of Iceland (Icelandic: Háskóli Íslands) is a public research university in Reykjavík, Iceland and the country’s oldest and largest institution of higher education. Founded in 1911, it has grown steadily from a small civil servants’ school to a modern comprehensive university, providing instruction for about 14,000 students in twenty-five faculties. Teaching and research is conducted in social sciences, humanities, law, medicine, natural sciences, engineering and teacher education. It has a campus concentrated around Suðurgata street in central Reykjavík, with additional facilities located in nearby areas as well as in the countryside.

University of Iceland, Nordic house, and National and University Library of Iceland.

Reykjavik city

Golden circle

Strokkur, hot water spring on Iceland.

Strokkur hot water spring in Iceland.

Harpa Concert hall in Reykjavik.

Every evening after the sun goes down, it starts a light show that is visible on the outside of Harpa.

Harpa Concert hall in Reykjavik.

Research integrated with clinical care- an inspirational visit to Pamplona

In the beginning of spring, I went to a sunny Pamplona to visit La Clinica Universidad de Navarra. The clinic is private aswell as the university and hosts several departments, open health care units, and has an in house clinical trials unit performing academic and sponsored clinical trials from fase I to III, a lot similar to the KTA of Karolinska University Hospital.

The fase 1 unit houses 8 beds for volunteers participating in first in human studies with an advanced monitoring capacity for the safety of the participating subjects. The subjects are all students from the university and the clinic holds a large database of volunteers to choose from. The clinic has centralized resources with administration, electronic medical records integrated in the research setting, a clinical trials management system for keeping track of the trials run in the hospital, progress and documentation. The clinic also hosts a PET scan, an MR-scan, a clinical laboratory and a Pre-clinical unit with trials in pigs, dogs, monkeys, rats, mice and fish

I was presented to one of the senior researchers in the university unit Patricio Molero Santos, who showed me the psychiatric clinic in the hospital.

The clinic has support from social workers, psychologist, psychiatrists and work therapists providing couples therapy, child and adolescence assessments for neuropsychiatric disorders and other evaluations. There is a way of working transprofessional to make sure the support provided collaborate in order to provide the best possible care for each patient. Dr Morales explained to me that they are influenced by the Swedish way of organizing psychiatric care in this way.

The coordinator of the clinical trials unit Joana Reis de Carvalho and her team: coordinators, secretarys, project managers and senior researchers, received me in the best possible way.

After two days of waking up my sleeping Spanish, a lot of useful information, laughter and sun, I came back to Stockholm with new ideas. I gained a lot of energy to keep on working in developing Centre for Psychiatry research to one of KIs best units in providing support to PIs of the clinical research produced at CPF.

Global citizens and culturally agile graduates

In late November I attended an “EAIE spotlight seminar” in the Hague focusing on Internationalisation at Home (IaH), or Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC) which is in fact the same. As new in my position in the International Relations office and involved in the IoC-project this seemed like a great opportunity to do a crash course in IaH and to build my network. /Emma Hägg, International Coordinator at the International Relations Office, KI.

Shifting focus from mobility to cultural experiences

The goal in Europe for student mobility is 20% and few are close to the goal. The average for Europe as a total is less than 6%. We have to move from mobility to interculturalisation because everybody is not mobile.

We have to shift focus from growing numbers of mobility to the rest, according to Elspeth Jone, keynote speaker. She referred in her presentation to 10 recommendations on IaH from the EAIE blog.

  1. IaH is for all. The mobility is additional. IaH is not the second best option…
  2. Move beyond electives and specialized programmes
  3. International learning outcomes
  4. Support the informal curriculum like buddys and social events
  5. Use cultural diversity in the classroom
  6. Engage with cultural others in learning environments/situations
  7. Involving all staff not only the international office
  8. May or may not include teaching in English – just translating is not the way to go
  9. Virtual (digital) mobility
  10. Foster engagement with international students


IaH – purposeful and for all

Early adaptors of IaH (2000) were countries with small languages in Europe (Scandinavia, Netherlands). Most common misconceptions of the concept is that it is only about: teaching in English, a second best alternative to mobility and that international classrooms are a necessity and that is where “it happens”.

The definition of IaH is that it is PURPOSEFUL and for ALL students! Netherlands are beginning to see IaH introduced already in primary school as it provides young people with an important traversal skills. It is important to start early as students that go on exchange have a special mindset. This mindset can in fact also be developed at home outside your comfort zone (Mezirows disorienting dilemma). It is really about preparing students for the uncertain and unpredictable. We should move from international education to “multiperspective” education. Linking local and global. Shorter or other international experiences (COIL – collaborative online international learning) can also be valuable – the important factor is to REFLECT on the learning! Make the intercultural learning EXPLICIT!

Final reflection and take home message: We need cultural agile graduates and global citizens to build the future in an unpredictable world  – the university has an important role to play!

Design, define and redefine

Design, define and redefine…I am thinking that it is what it is all about. My own and everybody else´s career…it is a process of constant development.

KI Career Service represented by me, Emma Hägg, and Anethe Mansén together with Hillevi Nordqvist from HR is attending a meeting in Helsinki, the International Staff Exchange Week (ISEW) focusing on career education and career monitoring alumni. 37 delegates from 30 universities in 13 different countries meet and share experiences and best practice. It is fascinating spending 48 hours together with people interested in the exact same things as you – the energy is high in the room!

Over the hours we discuss our work and it all boils down to a number of challenges that most of us working with career service are facing.

It is called career education for a reason – it should be part of the curriculum. Students need to strengthen the knowledge of who they are, what options are out there and how to actually find them. As universities we have a responsibility to make graduates employable. It will be a process to encourage academics to include this topic when constructing future study plans. In Helsinki University it is mandatory to do a 10 ECTS credit course in career education on BA level and also included in studies on MA and PhD level. Something for the rest of us to strive towards.

We must remind ourselves that our best strategy to reach out and remind our students and researchers that we are available is through cooperation with study counselors, academics, current students and alumni – we are all part of university services.

We must help students understand the value of practical experiences and how this links to their theoretical knowledge acquired within their fields of study. Be it an internship, summer job or study or staff exchange experience. In the UK there is a system with employability awards where students can utilize their extracurricular work experiences and transform them into employability skills through reflection. That is where the learning takes place, combining theory, practice and reflection. Maybe we should introduce a KI Employability Award?

Wording is important. There are many words that students can not relate to or make some of them stressed like career, planning, success and networking. We are here to prepare and support them to take the next step into the job market but the career journey is theirs to make. Planning might also not be so much planning but rather following your interests – one attending career counselor actually asked all of us if we had ever planned to work as career counselors?

It is a balance between planning and grabbing opportunity when given – you just have to design, define and redefine!

Ever thought of redefining your own career? Why don’t you check out this page – Career’s at KI – you will find Erasmus Teacher and Staff Exchange there among many other things…


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