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

Vietnamese Christmas decorations




A New Joint Capacity Building Project

EduShare project kick-off ceremony

EduShare project kick-off ceremony

The official kick-off ceremony for EduShare, a new project on joint capacity building in biomedical higher education co-financed by the Erasmus+ programme, was held at Hue University on Monday, and I was invited to attend. The kick-off was held at Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, in a lecture hall so beautifully decorated with amazing flower arrangements*. Professor Cao Ngoc Thanh, Rector of Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, was the host of the event and he held a very engaging and supporting introductory speech.

I was happily surprised to find two colleagues from Karolinska Institutet taking part in the project, which aims to “assist Vietnamese universities providing higher education and training to future healthcare professionals who contribute to improving the health of the local people” (according to the programme coordinators at Tartu University, Estonia). Of course there was also time to meet and network with new acquaintances from all the participating countries.


* I must admit that I am very fond of flowers and gardens, so this is a perfect desination for that as well…

Huế University

Centre for Inernational Education, Huế University

Huế University is one of the most important regional universities in Vietnam, ranked number 5 among Vietnamese universities. Established in 1957, it will celebrate 60 years next year. The university comprises of 8 member colleges and 2 member schools; the total number of students is more than 50 000. During my mobility period at Huế University, I will mainly be working together with and job shadowing the staff at the Centre for International Education as well as the College of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Today, I gave a very much appreciated presentation of Sweden (thank you Swedish Institute for great slides) and of course one about Karolinska Institutet. I was also given an introduction to Huế University and its structure, the educational programmes, international cooperation and so forth. We have a lot of interesting topics to discuss during the coming days, in order to learn from each other through best practices when it comes to student and staff mobility as well as other practical matters.

Hi from Huế


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.

Staff Mobility Through Erasmus Mundus Action 2


Working as an international coordinator at a university, I continuously encourage our students to travel abroad, gain international experience, try to use their knowledge in a different setting, learn new things and get to know other cultures and people. As a student I did an exchange study period abroad, I wrote my Master’s thesis abroad, I have carried out shorter staff exchanges in France and Spain. I believe that a mobility period abroad is very enriching, educative and inspiring both personally and professionally, so I was interested in doing a longer exchange period myself. After having searched the Internet for available programmes and also made enquiries with colleagues at other Swedish universities, I found an interesting programme that I could be eligible for.

In April I submitted an application to the Erasmus Mundus Action 2 partnership programme Lotus Unlimited.  Working as an administrative staff at a Swedish university, I qualified to apply for a one-month long staff mobility at an International Office in one of the participating countries. Hue University in Vietnam accepted my enquiry to carry out a mobility period at their university, and in June I was notified of the selection. I was so thrilled and excited about the news; grateful to Hue University and the Lotus Unlimited programme for selecting me and also to my head of unit at Karolinska Institutet, who approved of my participating in the mobility programme.

Now the time has come for the staff mobility to start. During the following four weeks, I will blog about my experiences participating in the mobility programme at Hue University. I hope that you too will be inspired and take the chance whenever given.



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!


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.


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.


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.