The agenda is set and with just over two months until EUPRIO’s 2014 gathering in the heart of the Austrian Alps, registrations are pouring in as members sign-up for the association’s annual conference before heading off for their summer holidays.
This year’s conference takes place from September 4-6 at the University of Innsbruck and the programme will focus on some of the key challenges facing university communications in an era of rapid change and increasing pressure on budgets and staffing.
Among the areas we’ll be covering this year are the communication challenges of university and departmental mergers and the need to focus more on public engagement and branding in a world dominated by change.
Merger lessons from across Europe
Mergers are certainly a hot topic – and during a masterclass on the ‘Concentration of faculties and universities’, Isabel Franca, director of external relations at the ULisboa, will describe how the communication process was structured so that the merger between the University of Lisbon and the Technical University of Lisbon became not just a challenge, but also an opportunity to improve and change communications to create a strong brand.
Key was ensuring the new identity did not forget the previous distinctiveness of the two former institutions and looking afresh at the most effective communication products to promote the new University, while listening to the reaction of the academic community and other stakeholders, including the local community.
Also presenting will be Aase Bak, head of communication at the School of Business and Social Sciences at Aarhus University, Denmark. She will share her account of three years of change processes following the merger of the former Aarhus School of Business and the Faculty of Social Sciences.
Aase will explain how the communication department handled the pressure coming from both inside and outside the new organisation and how psychologists and political scientists responded to the prospect of becoming part of a new international business school.
How a university and research centre came together
In parallel sessions on Friday, Dr Klaus Rümmele, head of new media, at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), will draw lessons from the merger of the University of Karlsruhe and the Helmholtz Research Centre Karlsruhe in Germany. With both the former university and research centre having strong brands, the coming together was not without its difficulties and ‘sorrows’, said Dr Rümmele. His lecture will describe the potential and the problems of communicating about a merger of scientific institutions to both internal and external target groups.
Internationalisation of Higher Education
The internationalisation of higher education is clearly of major interest to university communication professionals.
On the Saturday, Gerhard Schmitt, founding director of the Singapore-ETH Centre, will talk about ‘Moving abroad for a global impact’. His workshop will look at ETH Zürich’s Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore and how ETH departed from the western norm of setting up branch-university teaching campuses in south east Asia. Instead ETH set up a world-class research institute focusing on topics with a global impact which cannot be handled completely back at home in Zürich.
As an alternative to moving part of a university abroad, more universities now have ambitious plans to internationalise their campuses by recruiting students from around the globe – none more so than Maastricht University in the Netherlands. In her workshop, Monique Merckx, head of the University’s student recruitment team, will describe Maastricht’s journey towards becoming a truly internationally oriented university where nearly half the students now come from abroad.
Two speakers passionate about how universities should engage with wider society will share their visions – and compare experiences in another workshop offered on Saturday.
Paul Manners, director of the UK’s National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, will outline how the centre was established in 2008 to transform how universities engage with the public, particularly in the face of growing unease about how their cultures discouraged open and engaged practices.
Paolo Pomati, former president of EUPRIO, will sketch how universities’ engagement is developed in Southern Europe, focussing on the Italian situation. He will present examples, describe the communication approach, evaluate the experiences and provide tips and proposals for the future.
Just a taste
That’s just a taste of some of the things on offer at EUPRIO 2014 in Innsbruck and conference organiser Uwe Steger says the 350-year-old University of Innsbruck is looking forward to welcoming participants from across Europe to EUPRIO’s conference.
He says many of the sessions have only limited spaces still available and urges anyone wishing to attend to book their place, and reserve their spot in sessions which particularly interest them now to avoid disappointment.
Masterclasses and lectures
Masterclasses are intensive training sessions aimed mainly aimed at directors, managers and heads of office, with the speaker providing an overview and participants expected to react, discuss and respond over a three-hour session. The number of participants is usually restricted, so book early if you wish to attend one.
Lectures last up to 90 minutes and are repeated twice on Friday and are an alternative to the masterclasses. They are offered on a range of subjects linked to the conference theme and are mainly, but not exclusively, aimed at more junior communication staff.
Workshops last one hour and take place on the Saturday and are repeated twice.
+ You can see the complete programme here
Earlier stories on the website may help you make your selection. See:
EUPRIO’s 2014 conference will have a global outlook (blog):
Academic freedom and business engagement – Is there a conflict? (news story: Get ready for EUPRIO 2014)
#EUPRIO14: Keeping up with the pace of higher education change
DON’T FORGET to get your entries for the prestigious EUPRIO Awards in. The deadline for entries is being extended to 10 August (same date as late registrations) after requests for more time to get submissions ready. Fore more information, see: https://www.euprio.eu/time-to-enter-the-european-he-communication-oscars/