After a long break due to COVID-19, European activities have finally been able to resume at BTC! Kicking things off was a virtual mobility session for staff in the Construction and PA departments, who met with colleagues from Gradia College, a partner institution in Finland, earlier this month. The BTC staff were due to travel to Jyväskylä in May but were unable to undertake their trip due to the pandemic and the implementation of travel restrictions. The virtual mobility session allowed them to make up for lost time and meet with staff via Microsoft Teams to discuss how each college operates and get to know each other ahead of a potential trip in 2021.
Ordinarily, BTC would be sending up to 40 students and staff members abroad to other European institutions during the academic year on physical mobilities, but for now it is relying on digital tools to allow international teaching, training, and learning to continue through virtual mobilities instead. Piloting virtual mobility sessions like the one that took place earlier this month will help to refine the virtual mobility process to ensure that groups are given the best possible Erasmus+ experience in the future as part of the ‘new normal’.
Katy Hockings was one of the PA staff involved in the virtual mobility with Gradia College. She particularly enjoyed having the opportunity to share and exchange information about working practices within each college and is looking forward to the next virtual mobility session in November. She commented:
The virtual mobility session was an excellent opportunity to build networks and connections between Gradia and BTC, and for the PA team it was a continuation of the programme which started last year with Eevamari from Gradia visiting BTC to learn about how we operate.
Being able to continue the Erasmus+ mobility programme in a virtual format is invaluable to the continued connection between the two organisations and building networks and relationships in preparation for when we can restart the travel and exchange programmes.
Elsewhere, there has been good progress with the college’s European projects, as BTC has been offered several partnership roles in large-scale KA2 projects in addition to developing some exciting project proposals of its own. The Erasmus+ team will be exploring these opportunities over the coming months and will hopefully be commencing project work in 2021.
Until then, focus will be on resuming international mobilities for students and staff, using the blended mobility model. Blended mobilities are designed to hybridise physical mobilities and virtual mobilities so that a large majority of work takes place digitally, but participants still have the opportunity to travel abroad later in the year. It will allow students and staff to continue benefitting from international opportunities whilst travel restrictions and coronavirus regulations remain in place.
If you are a student and you are interested in participating in the Erasmus+ programme, you can register your interest using this online form.
If you would like more information about the Erasmus+ programme, click here.