Supporting internationalisation of HE through professionalising services for mobile academic staff


Successful integration of international academics is a key element in building truly international HE institutions. Incoming PhD students and academics receiving high-quality assistance before, during, and even after their stay can enjoy the full benefits of their mobility and contribute better to the work and life of the departments and research teams they join. HE institutions able to provide such support can be more successful in attracting and retaining talents.  

Over the past decade, many universities in the Central-Eastern and South-Eastern European (CESE) region have made great progress in developing welcome services and professional capacities to support mobility of (under) graduate students. Services to support international inbound PhD students and academics coming for their mid-term or long-term mobility have not developed at the same speed, or to the same extent. Along with a growing ambition of HE institutions in the CESE region to make their teaching and research more international, there comes a need for a more strategic approach to enhancing institutional welcoming culture and further professionalisation of services for this target group.

The EU-funded Erasmus+ project UniWelIS will create practical tools to facilitate such development reflecting the specific HE institutional realities in the target region whilst deploying synergies with other already existing support services provided at institutional, local, or national level (e.g. the EURAXESS network, Migration information centres, etc.). Based on the collected data on the obstacles faced by international PhD students and academics coming to HEIs in the region of CE-SE Europe as well as on the institutional barriers hampering the target group's better integration the project aims to build up evidence that would help to improve or set up tailormade measures and services. As a result, the HE support staff will be aware of the challenges the incoming internationals face whilst the involvement of HE managers should ensure that a more strategic approach to dedicated services will be integrated across their institutions. At the same time, the evidence might also be used by other stakeholders such as policymakers and public authorities in charge of different areas related to academic mobility.

Another important aspect of the project is the encouragement of local & regional networking and collaborations leading to the development of joint activities & services thus contributing to better integration of international academics within the local communities as well.   

A cross-border collaboration of the 6 project partners will provide access to different sources of know-how & expertise that are not all available in any of participating countries alone & allow for intensive knowledge exchange. The activities are designed to be transferable to other contexts thus enabling a potential extension of the acquired know-how and tools to other HE institutions in the region.

The project lasts from November 2020 to June 2023.The project is reaching completion. This final conference of the project takes part on June, 21 in Bratislava. During this event will be presented the key lessons learnt from this three-year project in terms of building comprehensive approaches to quality support services for international PhD students and academics in Central-Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.