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.

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!

Communications

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.

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A week in Hanoi, Vietnam

By Kristina Jesinkey, International Relations Office

Now back after a week spent in Hanoi, Vietnam where I have met with international coordinators at Hanoi Medical University and Hanoi Children’s hospital. I have also attended meetings within the TRAC (Training and Research Academic Center) network, a STINT-financed network where five Swedish universities participate. The aim of the network is to establish a sustainable infrastructure for collaborative research and higher education involving Swedish and Vietnamese partners with the aim to strengthen scientific, administrative, clinical and policy making capacity and promote evidence-based health policy recommendations.

KI has some ongoing student exchange in Hanoi and it was therefore very interesting to see how “my” counterparts work with international issues. Here we are very fortunate in being able to offer our students and teachers some kind of economic support when going abroad. Nothing like that is available to the Vietnamese students unless they can get external funding via a partner university through for example Linnaeus-Palme or Erasmus+ international credit mobility. We discussed new exchange possibilities, maybe with the nursing program they have that is entirely given in English.

Hanoi is a bustling city with crazy traffic – cars and motorbikes everywhere, but fantastic. And; fantastic food! I had a few hours off one afternoon when I visited the “Temple of Literature”, the first Vietnamese university founded in 1070 – makes all Swedish universities seem very young.img_1408
Turtles at the Temple of Literature

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Vietnamese Christmas decorations

 

 

Hi from Huế

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The city of Huế lies on the banks of Song Huong (Perfume River) in the province Central Vietnam. Huế is known as the most royal city of Vietnam, as it used to be the capital of the country during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). This era has had a great impact on the city, as of 1993 the Complex of Huế Monuments were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the Citadel and Hoang Thanh (the Imperial City) among the most popular tourist attraction in Hue.

As I arrived a day early to Huế, I started off with doing some sightseeing in the city which will now be my “home-away-from-home” for a month’s time.

The photos have all been taken inside the Imperial City. It is quite an impressive site, and I spent several hours walking around the now rather tranquil area, trying to imagine what it was like living there 200 years ago. I highly recommended it.

London calling

Förkyld men peppad gav jag mig iväg till London för en tvådagars kurs i examination tillsammans med min handläggarkollega och en grupp lärare från läkarprogrammet. Byggnaden där kursen hölls, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, ligger vackert vid Regent´s park i centrala London, ett ganska dyrt område, och vi hade bokat rum på det billigaste hotell vi kunde hitta. De bruna plyschöverkasten och den högljudda ventilationen drog ner betyget men vi hade gångavstånd till Regent´s park och Baker street låg bara ett kvarter bort. Första kvällen åt vi middag på The Sherlock Holmes hotel och spanade nyfiket på den stora grupp som träffades i rummet bredvid. Det visade sig förstås vara The Sherlock Holmes society. Så mycket mer sightseeing än så blev det inte för min del pga förkylningen men vi fick en fin promenad till kursen dagen därpå, strålande sol och betydligt varmare än det svenska oktobervädret.

Vi hade besökt London redan i maj för grundkursen i examination: ”Foundations of assessment”. Då hölls kursen på The Apothecaries Hall, en fantastisk 400 år gammal byggnad med inredning som fick oss att känna oss som Hogwarts-elever i Harry Potter-böckerna. Tyvärr var även akustiken av 1600-talsmodell så vi var glada att denna gång vara i mer moderna lokaler.

Kursen ”International advanced assessment course” anordnas av HPAC (Health Professional Assessment Consultancy) som består av några av världens främsta experter inom examination, framförallt för läkarutbildning och andra vårdutbildningar. Deltagarna kom huvudsakligen från Storbritannien men också från USA, Australien, Israel, Dubai, Libanon mm. Kursen var indelad i katedrala föreläsningar och workshops i mindre grupper. Föreläsningarna handlade om den senaste forskningen inom området, tex ”Assessment: The Evidence from the Literature” och ”Assessment through the Patient/Public: Implications for Competency-Based Medical Education”. Jag hade valt fyra workshops: “Setting the standard for written tests” som handlar om olika metoder för att avgöra godkändgräns, ”Quality Assuring Assessment Programmes” om utvärdering av examinationsprogram, ”Feedback and Assessment” och ”Assessment of Professionalism”. I varje workshop, som varade 2,5 timmar, deltog bara 10-15 personer samtidigt och man hann därför grundligt diskutera ämnena från olika lärosätens och länders perspektiv. Lagstiftning och tillsyn skiljer sig en hel del åt mellan Storbritannien och Sverige men det fanns ändå mycket kunskap och praktiska tips att ta hem till KI.

Planet hem landade på Arlanda kl 00.30 så det var trötta men inspirerade kursdeltagare som kom tillbaka till KI på fredagen!

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The absolute best way to learn!

Purpose: Job shadowing the Head of Research Service Facility at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Duration: 10-14 October 2016

Time to leave town

The day has finally come! After a quite long time of preparations – contacting the host organization, agreeing on learning outcomes, setting agendas and activities to be carried out and applying for Erasmus grants – it is my time to check of one of my biggest goals this year: an international job exchange. The bags are packed and I´m heading for Arlanda airport with a huge smile on my face. Of course, I had carefully checked the route and train table beforehand, knowing exactly which train that would take me from London to Cambridge. Judge by my surprise when the flight deck announced that all passengers are welcome onboard flight D82851 heading for London Gatwick. Gatwick? I thought I was going to London Stanstead! Arriving at Gatwick meant that I had to cross the whole London area, meaning a much longer trip by train including multiple changes, instead of a 30 minute direct ride to Cambridge. However, casting all my old plans aside made the trip a lot more interesting.

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Genome campus in Hinxton, Cambridge. Genuine environment with top modern facilities.

 

@ the Genome campus

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI) specializes in the study of genome variation and offers 5 specific programs. However, my focus was on the Service Operations area and on the Research Support Facility (RSF) in particular. Special attention was to be given to, for example, managerial- and team structures, approach towards continuous improvement & development, approach towards the set-up and delivery of animal research services (such as service offerings, distribution channels, customer relationships and the facility itself), communication, IT-systems and administrative routines. I knew that my ambitions and expected learning outcomes before the trip were very high but after a week of job shadowing the Head of the RSF, I realized that I got so much more out of it than I could ever imagine.

Long but very interesting days

During the 5 days that the exchange lasted, I had the chance to talk to many interesting people and follow them in their daily work. The employees were very open and talked with enthusiasm about their work. On the first day, I sat down with the Head of RSF and went through the organizational set up, their relationships and interaction with internal and external stakeholders as well as collaborators. Especially the discussions around the structuring of the organization based on data and softer issues such as code of conduct (including organizational values) interested me as my background is within organization and leadership. Fortunately, they were more than willing to share their documentations with me to take back home and study further.

During the following days, I had the chance to visit the animal facility multiple times, was guided through the various work tasks of the animal technicians and was taught the setup of the facility. I was also able to discuss with the Named Training & Competency Officer and one in her staff about their struggles with setting up a database to store competency records and personal licenses, an area that they put a lot of effort to develop. I was also shown their vast supply of course offerings and development plans for the personnel which impressed me a lot. In particular, the standardized introduction- and training packages to both users and new animal technicians as well as the regular reassessment of skills is something to learn from.

I also had the chance to follow the Named Animal Care & Welfare Officers around to get an insight into their work tasks and interaction with the others in the facility in order to ensure safe and efficient handling of the animals. One great efficiency improvement in their organization came with the introduction of a Mouse Database, which has been developed, in-house, during approx. 9 years. Today, the system is central to the personnel’s everyday work tasks and is highly valuable as it instantly supplies the organization with important and relevant data. The hope is that they will be able to expand the system to other Universities and Institutions through a community approach.

Another very interesting area of discussion is the operation of the facility and the daily work tasks of the Facility manager and her team. Here, I found many similarities between our organizations and could draw upon experiences shared. Further, I had the chance to meet the Head of Mouse Production and talk about their operations.

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The beautiful Hinxton hall. Now hosting conferences in a nice and traditional environment.

 

More people eager to learn

On top of my own learning, I participated in a full day dedicated to introduce new Home Office inspectors to the WTSI. During the day, I was able to get a complete view of the organization, its size and key indicators, the efforts to standardize, the mapping of work processes and the focus on continuous monitoring of data. We also went in-depth into various areas of procedures and services offered by the Institution and the efficiency of the new methods introduced. I must admit they lost me quite early when explaining the methods more in detail. The day ended with another fruitful guided tour in the facility which gave me the chance to first handedly follow the work carried out.

 

The time flew so fast

Having had ambitious goals for this exchange, I was given the full opportunity to get first class insight into a similar organization as my own. As I found some differences between us, I also discovered many similarities. Actually, I have learned more about KI by visiting WTSI and are coming back with new ideas of improvement. I thank everyone at the RSF for having such a positive attitude and for spending their time and energy to teach me about their work. I has been one of the greatest experiences and learnings for me and I encourage everyone to look into the opportunities provided by the Erasmus job shadowing program offered by the International Office at KI.