Alessandra Poti: my Erasmus+ experience

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International Mobility and Projects Coordinator Alessandra Poti took part in the Erasmus+ scheme in 2018, and has since used the knowledge she gained during her time at the University of Salento in Italy in her current role with us. We asked Alessandra about the scheme and the benefits for staff wanting to take part.

Where did you go and what did you do with Erasmus+?

I went to a University called the University of Salento, which is in the south of Italy. I did a week of job shadowing mainly, during which I was basically looking at how people in Italy do my role as well as their processes and procedures. They had a very good mentor programme, which gave us some good ideas of what we can implement at Salford.

Alongside that it was useful to see how they provide support to the students and cooperate with the ESN (European Student Network) Association, as well as how they help students find accommodation and show them around the town when they first arrive. I also went to a couple of events that they host for incoming students to see what other support they provide.

What are the main benefits of Erasmus+ for staff?

What’s good to see is how different universities operate in different countries, including how certain situations and challenges are dealt with. In terms of teaching and training activities in general, it’s obviously very beneficial for the staff member taking part because you gain a new perspective by looking at how others do your job. On top of that, it’s very good to see how an initial relationship can develop into a proper partnership with a university.

In terms of the students, they can gain a lot from it as well, as the knowledge staff learn from their time abroad can be transferred to or shared with the students on their return.

How has the Erasmus+ programme developed your skills and how do these skills transfer into your current role?

I think again it’s just really useful to go abroad and see how different people work in different ways, because you can really learn from it and bring back new ideas, which in turn can influence how you work. It’s also useful for your host institution because you’re sharing experiences - you come across different experiences and challenges almost every day. In my current role, one challenge is that we have lots of students wanting to come here to Salford, but not as many current students wanting to go abroad. In Italy, they were in the opposite situation, so it was good to be able to see why this is the case and explore how they manage it.

What advice would you give to other staff members wanting to take part in the Erasmus+ scheme?

I think they should definitely consider it – it’s very good for personal development because you get lots of ideas and you make a lot of contacts as well. If I have a problem, sometimes I’ll email the people I worked with in Italy and ask ‘how would you approach this?’ to gain a different insight. It’s just good to be able to build that network.

Working or training abroad can also influence collaboration. For example, there might be an opportunity to work on a joint research project or academic book which might lead to funding. Once you build a relationship with a university abroad then it can also be beneficial for the students in terms of opportunities for them to go abroad, or guest lectures; that sort of thing. It’s also good for the University too as it builds our international background.

I think it’s a really useful and interesting thing to do.