RSU Continues to Focus on Internationalisation Despite the COVID-19 Crisis by Implementing the Erasmus Programme Online
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) quickly succeeded in adapting the Erasmus programme to the online environment thus ensuring the programme’s continuity. The Erasmus programme is one of the cornerstones of the university’s internationalisation measures.
In the first days of the pandemic, RSU was already providing outgoing and incoming exchange students with the opportunity to study remotely in cooperation with its Erasmus partner universities. The majority of Erasmus students could take part in the remote learning processes implemented at both their home and host universities.
To ensure that RSU can successfully continue to participate in the Erasmus exchange programme, the International Department (ID) is holding selection interviews online. Over 200 students from various faculties at RSU have applied for the Erasmus mobility programme in the upcoming study year.
Representatives from the International Student Association (ISA) and the Student Union (SU) have always been included on the selection board, and this year is no exception.
‘We had to use Zoom to conduct the interviews due to the current situation. The interviews were held as a panel discussion of ten students and interviewers. This format ensured good communication so that the interviewers would be able to capture the participants’ thoughts, ideas and feelings accurately,’ said Arathi Nair, a representative for RSU ISA on the selection board.
Despite the current border restrictions in Europe, RSU students are nevertheless showing a great interest in gaining international experience at other universities or institutions.
‘There is a lot we can learn from other countries, in my opinion. I therefore totally understand these students’ eagerness to use the opportunities that the Erasmus programme can offer. A majority of the applicants have already shown a great interest in the universities they are applying to. Some of them have already learned, or are currently learning, the language of their destination country. This shows that they are prepared,’ notes Francesca Zanghi, a representative for RSU ISA on the selection board.
Her colleague from RSU ISA, Irina Mariotti, is also a member of the selection board. She continues by saying that ‘it was a great pleasure to meet students interested in the culture as well as the healthcare and education systems of other countries. I see providing this type of experience as the Erasmus programme’s main goal.’
After the selection interviews, the ID helps students prepare for the programme. The ID already held one informative seminar this week in cooperation with the Faculty of Medicine. Eight more seminars are scheduled to take place this spring, during which students will have the opportunity to ask their questions about the programme.
The European Commission (EC) has defined digitalising the Erasmus programme as one of its strategic development goals for the 2021 financial programming period. RSU has been quick to prepare for implementing the programme online thus ensuring that the university is included in the European Education Area.