From 19 to 21 October, the first Staff Week organized by the ENHANCE University Alliance took place on the campus of Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) on Spain’s sunny Mediterranean coast. For me, as a relatively new member of the ENHANCE staff, the entire week was a great opportunity to meet with colleagues from all six partner countries who are working within ENHANCE or on topics related to the goals of the Alliance.

The team at UPV prepared a thorough schedule for us: Each day consisted of expert talks, for example, on the importance of “soft” or transferable skills in education, training workshops where we were taught about design thinking concepts, and, of course, coaching and teamwork sessions to discuss our ideas and exchange best practices.

First in person ENHANCE Alliance meeting

As it was the first face-to-face meeting since the start of the Alliance, all of us felt the need to exchange ideas, so we took our time and continued our discussions outside of the official agenda, using the evenings to intensively discuss our experiences and expectations within the Alliance.

The week wasn’t just an opportunity for administrative staff to meet in the beautiful city of Valencia. The vice-rectors and heads of international offices also traveled to the city for various board meetings, such as for the Steering Committee or Board of Directors. The week also presented me with the opportunity to meet the Student Representatives from the member universities who also gathered at the UPV campus for their Student Forum.

Unfortunately, everybody’s packed schedules during this Staff Week – or more aptly ENHANCE week – did not allow for many formal meetings between the three groups of attendees. Again, the importance of a physical meeting became evident: somehow, you always managed to find some time for an informal chat, whether during lunch, on the bus ride to an official dinner, or during a quick espresso on campus.

Building the European University of Technology

Enhance Universities Staff Week in person UPV

It was a valuable experience for me to meet so many of my new colleagues. Not simply reading their emails or seeing their faces during online meetings but getting to know them as a whole person, arguing, agreeing, and laughing with them made me feel like a real part of the ENHANCE family.

We are working together across borders and cultures to promote the European idea and foster and enhance mobility among students, staff, and researchers. It was inspiring to witness the motivation and stimuli within the entire ENHANCE team. Several more staff weeks are scheduled to be held at the different partner universities over the next two years, and I can only recommend to everyone to take the opportunity to broaden their perspectives on a truly European level.

Forberger, Paul.