The ATHENS network holds its general assembly in Bucharest in June 2022
The ATHENS Network assembled in Bucharest
After almost three years, the coordinators of the ATHENS network could finally hold their General Meeting on-site again. This year, they followed the invitation of Mr. Mihnea Cosmin Costoiu, the rector of the University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest (UPB), to reunite in order to discuss about organizational matters, and the implementation of Blended Intensive Programmes in the ATHENS offer.
No less than 20 local coordinators from all over Europe came to Bucharest: From Lisbon and Vienna, from Budapest and Leuven. Mrs. Luciana Mihai, Director of International Relations, and Prof. Mihai Ghinea, Associate Professor and UPB’s local coordinator, welcomed the ATHENS partners. The University POLITEHNICA is the youngest member of the ATHENS programme; they joined the network in 2018. Therefore, it has been the first General Meeting that took place in Romania.
The participants shared the results of the last ATHENS week, which took place in the middle of March. In total, more than 850 students participated in this session, which is a clear proof of the unbroken interest in mobility in Higher Education, despite the challenging situation. The feedback of the students has been positive without exception: They benefitted from the high quality course provided by the ATHENS partners, enjoyed their stay in another European city, and met students from all over Europe (and beyond).
Another focal point of the meeting was the organization of the next ATHENS session in November 2022. All partners emphasized their intention to hold the courses on-site. However, if needed, every institution is ready to provide again online solutions, so that the students can still follow the courses, even in the unlikely event that they cannot travel.
After two years of pandemic and the arrival of some new ATHENS coordinators, the ATHENS partners decided to extend the next General Meeting that is taking place in December in Paris in order to exchange about how the ATHENS week is organized at their respective institutions. The objective is to share best practices, and to get to know more about the other partners. The participants also raised a need for more communication material of the ATHENS programme, and to spread the news about it benefits for both the students and the institutions. Therefore, they agreed on organizing a dissemination event next year.
Finally, the discussion turned to the implementation of a new and innovative type of course in the teaching offer of the ATHENS network: the Blended Intensive Programme (BIP). A BIP is a new learning activity proposed in the framework of Erasmus+ programme. The novelty lies in the combination of a physical mobility with a virtual part, where the participants actively collaborate with each other. This format makes it possible to extend the excellent teaching offer of the ATHENS network, and to participate in the Erasmus+ programme. The Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) will propose a first BIP at the next ATHENS session in November 2022 by transforming one of their most popular ATHENS courses: Prague Urban Palimpsest. Other partners are as well in the starting block to propose a BIP. For example, the French engineering school Arts et Métiers plans to offer its course Polymers and Composites (Properties and Durability) in March 2023 as a Blended Intensive Programme.
The next day, the ATHENS local coordinators participated in the guided tour of the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest organized by the team of UPB. They left with a lot of new ideas and initiatives in mind, and are looking forward to welcome the ATHENS students on November 12.