The Arqus European University Alliance, which brings together the universities of Bergen, Granada, Graz, Leipzig, Lyon, Padova and Vilnius, completed the application process for its unique Twinning activities and announced the selected participants. Vilnius University, which received the most applications out of all seven universities, is planning to carry out the first exchange in September 2021.
According to Head of Studies Quality and Development Department Andrius Uždanavičius, Arqus Twinning aims to strengthen subject-related collaboration of staff and students and create possibilities to carry out joint learning and teaching activities through piloting short-term mobility schemes: “The Alliance’s aim is to respond to the societal challenges and to advance towards deeper European integration”.
During the application period, Vilnius University received and will carry out a total of 12 mobilities. The first exchange is expected to take place in September 2021 – Prof. Dr Aistis Raudys from the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics, and his students, will visit the University of Granada in Spain. The team will be working on a joint research project to improve the accuracy of people counting on public transport during crowded conditions to allow for better transport planning, optimisation, and a less polluted environment. The aim is to create a joint paper on the topic of passenger counting and flow forecasting.
Other activities are scheduled for the year 2022. Dr Jolanta Šinkūnienė from the Faculty of Philology and a group of students, will visit Granada in March. Her team will work on building a body of specialised language for tourism, focussing on aspects of discourse analysis, as well as translation challenges, cultural conceptualisation differences and their implications. Ieva Giedraitytė, from the Institute of International Relations and Political Science, and students, will travel to Padova in Italy. This exchange will be intended for master degree level students, who will participate in the virtual module “Europe as a Global Actor”.
During the fall semester of 2021, other Arqus universities will also carry out different types of Twinning activities. Up until the end of September 2022, Granada will implement 10 mobilities: Bergen and Padova will have 4 teams, another 3 will visit other universities from Leipzig and there will be 2 teams from Graz and Lyon. A total of 4 activities from other Arqus universities will be carried out at Vilnius University.
“Even though originally it was planned to fund 14 initiatives (2 per university), seeing the success of this initiative, the quality of the applications and motivation of our academic staff, almost all universities decided to find more resources and fund more. As a result, 37 accepted applications will be funded: 25 by Arqus and the rest from other sources, (other programs or internal budgets). That is not the end, we still have plans to announce another call next academic year,” Andrius Uždanavičius says.
The exchanges that will be carried out by Vilnius University are blended Twinning activities. According to Uždanavičius, this is a unique way to follow the plan even in difficult circumstances, while adjusting to both physical and online activities.
“Twinning activities are expected to contribute to the achievement of the Alliance’s objectives and may vary in their mode and type. They may include joint workshops, internships, participation in international conferences, summer schools, group projects, etc. They may be implemented only physically when students from different universities meet for workshops face to face or be blended – when students from two universities are working virtually on a common project and eventually meet physically to complete and present the results,” Andrius Uždanavičius explains.
The eligibility deadline for Twinning visits is end of September 2022. Another call for Twinning initiatives is planned to be announced during the 2021 fall semester.