1. Background detail about the initiative
- Title of the initiative described by the case study: Euroweek
- Contributor of the case study: M. Àngels Xabadia, Universitat de Girona
- Data sources used for the case study:
- Websites of the last two events:
- Internal documents: http://euroweek2020.ihu.gr/docs/EUROWEEK_2020_GUIDELINES.pdf
- URL of initiative / URL of initiative
- University behind the initiative: Member Universities of the Prime Networking Association
2. Introduction to the case: brief history and goals of the initiative
Euroweek is an annual event, organized by Prime Networking, a European network of 17 universities. The aim of this network is to develop and advance cross-cultural and interdisciplinary training, academic programmes and research that add value to existing education, research and training responsive to a changing global environment in the fields of business and economics. One of its main events is a one week academic conference gathering students and academics from member universities.
Students from two or three international institutions cooperate to develop a project online during the months before the Euroweek event. Then, during the conference week the student teams present the results of their own research projects and attend other workshops and compete for prizes.
Euroweek began in 1995 in Antwerp and has since been a yearly joint event, combining virtual collaboration with physical mobility to one of the Universities of Prime Networking Association (except for 2020 when the pandemic made it impossible for a physical event and was completely held on-line).
The goal of the Euroweek is to foster collaboration among the students of the member universities to tackle a specific challenge and topic, from an interdisciplinary perspective and providing the students with a unique blended intercultural and international experience.
The Euroweek (EW) process starts during the closing ceremony of the previous Euroweek with a short introduction by the next host. The introduction includes:
• Dates (always between April and May).
• Topic (decided by the General Assembly two years before).
At the beginning of the academic year the member universities identify and select the students that will participate in the Euroweek. Teams will be put together, they must be composed by at least 3 and a maximum of 6 students from three different countries. Teams are made of:
• Project Leader. It is one of the academics involved in the project. He/she will be the overall project responsible and the speaker with the jury. From 2012 on, the project owner is the project leader (or viceversa).
• Participating students.
• Facilitators. They are each one of the responsible academics in each participant Institution.
• The Project Leader is a Facilitator as well.
These teams are given a specific project to work on. They will work on this for about 3 months and prepare the communication of their findings in the face to face Euroweek event. Students are expected to write a communication, prepare a poster and present the results, in form of a pitch and also in form of a long presentation. The different student groups are then evaluated and given prizes following academic content, presentation skills and interactive performance with the audience evaluation criteria.
All details on the specific procedures are explained thoroughly in the Euroweek Guidelines document shared with all member Universities in each edition. The jury of the written essay is formed from the jury tracks.
3. Key aspects
Since the Euroweek initiative is a longstanding and established blended mobility scheme, many of the challenges faced by these types of initiatives have been addressed. Here are some examples:
Selection of students: Students are selected based on their academic record and their proficiency in English. Each team has a minimum of 4 students from two different Universities, so if one student drops out, the team can still participate.
Funding: Member Universities pay an annual fee to Prime Networking. This fee enables the network to cover its activities. Host institutions can ask for a small percentage of these fees to cover the event. In addition, participating students have a registration fee (350€ for accommodation and subsistence). Participating lecturers also have a registration fee to cover the general costs of the event. Member universities cover travel for all participants and the accommodation of the lecturers. Most of the member universities cover the registration fee for the students, leaving a minor cost for the students to ensure commitment.
Recognition: Some member universities have Euroweek as an independent course, in these cases, they have a lecturer responsible for this course and therefore has automatic credit recognition. In other universities, where the lecturers participate on their own interest, it depends on the agreement they have in their institution.
Each university has its own form of recognition. Some have it in the form of an established course, others recognize independent ECTS. At the Universitat de Girona, students are given 3 ECTS for their participation and completion of the projects.
Critical mass: the experience shows that there are, on average, 15-18 projects which means gathering between 90 and 108 students and between 30 to 40 lecturers.
Quality assurance: Juries are created by the host institution, with consultation from the responsible on PRIME Managing Board. There are marking grids of project presentations to assure the quality of the evaluation. There are 3 jury tracks, of 6 jury members each, including one jury chairman/chairwoman that will lead the session, moderate the discussion between jury members and give feedback to the students. To assure impartiality of evaluation, in case of jury/country coincidence in a project presentation, that jury member cannot vote. At least 4 of the 6 members must be allowed to vote, this is the challenge of the organizers to conform the juries that conform to the rules.
To avoid having always the same teams and ensure diversity, a lottery system has been devised to allocate the 5-6 projects with the participating institutions and create the teams. For example:
- Team 1: Universitat de Girona, Spain; Universidad de Ibagué, Colombia; International Hellenic University, Greece;
- Team 2: ECAM Brussels Engineering School, Belgium; JOANNEUM – University of Applied Sciences – Department of Management, Austria, Molloy College, USA;
- Team 3: BA School of Business and Finance, Latvia; Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra, Portugal; South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, Finland;
- Team 4: Haute Ecole Bruxelles-Brabant [HE2B-ISIB], Belgium; University of South-Eastern Norway – USN, Norway; Mälardalen University, Sweden;
- Team 5: IUT A of Lille, France; Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences (Technische Hochschule Brandenburg), Germany; Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic.
Resources needed: The large number of participants require sufficient space for plenary sessions, poster presentations and rooms for the project pitches. Smaller workrooms are also needed.
Teaching innovation: Lecturers participate during the whole Euroweek learning process, from the selection of the overall theme of each edition to the definition of the project topics (often with the students). Lecturers tutor the different teams and push them to accomplish the objectives and meet the deadlines.
Learning outcomes: A part from the content of the projects, which varies from year to year and always has a multidisciplinary approach, Euroweek is a clear example of a blended mobility initiative that promotes transversal skills:
- Learning to work in multidisciplinary and international teams
- Science communication in intercultural contexts
- Working under pressure
- Intercultural communication
- Collaboration with peers
- Resolution of challenges
Student experience: Students that enroll in this program live an intense experience that empowers them for future International research collaborations that includes a 3-month long virtual collaboration component and a face-to-face intense week where the results of the virtual collaboration has to be materialized, shared, communicated, and defined.
Social interaction: A part from the academic side of the program, the success of this initiative is also based on the importance given in the program to the social events and interaction of all the participants. During the face-to-face part of the Euroweek students and lecturers have to actively participate in the social events of the program (International food fair, gala dinner, etc.).
The aim (and it is proven by the results) is that networking and connections between the lecturers and students from the Prime Networking take place, often leading to further collaborations in research and other academic joint projects.
4. Lessons Learnt and Transferability Opportunities
The highlights of this long-lasting initiative are:
Students as ambassadors: The UdG hosts an international day, where the Office of International Relations of the Faculty Ciències Econòmiques i Empresarials holds a stand and explains all types of mobility opportunities, both long and short and blended options such as Euroweek. But most importantly, students tell each other. It is a very relevant life experience for them. We have seen more people joining each year.
The importance of the virtual collaboration component: Euroweek has a 3-month long virtual collaboration component followed by a very intense face-to-face week. Students work during 3 months together virtually on a research topic and write an article and prepare a poster with their teams. This virtual component sets the Foundation for the physical mobility and all the work that they are expected to do and present.
Multicultural and multidisciplinary approach: This initiative is particularly interesting because it entails a multidisciplinary teamwork approach with students coming in from different faculties and fields (business, engineering, sometimes psychology, or others). And above all, it provides a fantastic intercultural experience for the participants, students, and lecturers. This initiative is open to master students and undergraduates, so there is also a rich diversity in the level of students.
Research collaboration and innovation: Euroweek is an opportunity for students, but also for the lecturers because it allows them to expand the network of contacts and work with other academics that they might not otherwise have known. Often European projects and other projects emerge among the universities in the network precisely due to this collaboration and the inspiration from sharing these activities together.