Inter-institutional events/study visits/job shadowing for support staff

Such events are an efficient way for professionals from different HEIs to share their knowledge, exchange their experience and challenges and build contacts and trust, in other words, a community of experts. Better informed support staff, with well established professional networks, inspired by good practices of other colleagaues can provide more professional and motivated guidance.

The events may also include some training part to enhance their competencies (soft skills, intercultural, unbiased communication style), or hands-on activities how to create more internationally friendly institutional environments. The events may include several sessions where support staff participants can collaborate on small tasks and jointly innovate various services (e.g. Orientation week), and suggest new channels of communication, or define practical guidelines

A very effective way of experiential peer learning activity through observation and exchange of knowledge is represented by study visits or job shadowing. They can typically have a cross-border character and lead to further intensification or introduction of new services at the home institution resulting in the high-level provision of assistance to mobile academics and building up professional networks.


Better communication and cooperation Improved skills and knowledge

Basic information
Categories Capacity Building of Support & Management Staff
Mobility stages Institutional setup
Delivery schedule Periodic
Importance Important to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups Administrative staff Management staff
Practice setup

What to consider when intending to set up inter-institutional events and other capacity-building activities:

  • Look for synergies and map national and local partners if they organise inter-institutional events for support staff involved in internationalisation (e.g. EURAXESS centres, National agency for ERASMUS plus,  partner universities within the Erasmus plus programme, etc); alternatively join with other HEIs in the city/region/country to take turns in organising such events for mutual benefit.

  • Coordinate with partners about the topics where there exists a need to learn more about - mobility-related topics, so-called hard topics (visa/entry conditions, social security, health insurance, taxation), soft skills to be trained (e.g. unbiased communication style, conflict management, intercultural communication, etc). Eventually, discuss also preferred formats (onsite - physical/online), types of activities (see below), duration, periodicity, venue, and logistics both for organisers and participants, including funding.

Types of possible activities:

  1. specialised trainings, seminars/webinars, workshops

  2. regular gatherings of IRO members (a hosting role can circulate among institutions), or informal networking and knowledge exchange meetings (e.g. chats over coffee)

  3. joint tasks/mini-projects

  4. study visits/job shadowing/ observation periods

1. Trainings, seminars/webinars, workshops 

In case you are in charge of the organisation:

  • define available budget and resources for the activity (both personnel and other costs)

  • define format (online/onsite), duration, venue, date

  • propose agenda

  • ensure knowledge sharing and exchange of good practices among participants via the suitable method (e.g.sharing experience from study visits, discussing practical challenges, open space concept, etc)

  • you may consider to include a training part and networking part into more comprehensive events

  • identify and approach suitable experts as speakers

2. Regular gatherings of IRO members/informal networking and knowledge exchange meetings

  • periodicity of such events and the hosting organisations shall be defined (e.g. annual plan of hostings agreed upon among various HEIs, or a plan for hosting the upcoming two meetings).

  • thematic focus of the meetings can either be agreed upon before-hand by the IRO community (e.g. at least the upcoming one), or specified by the host in advance of the meeting.

  • in case it is beneficial - (external) experts can be invited to provide some introductory speech, feedback, guidance, examples of good practice etc.

3. Joint tasks/mini-projects

This activity could be organised as a series of several sessions with a goal to collaborate on joint projects to innovate the services of support staff involved in internationalization. It would provide each support staff member an opportunity to learn, be creative and develop new initiatives or innovate already existing services from the practitioner's perspective.

It could be a follow-up activity of a community of IRO members identified in their regular meetings.

4. Study visits (ideally cross-border) and job shadowing: 

The activity could be developed from the perspective of an institution that would like to contribute to the organising of a study visit (become a host) or to send staff for a short-term (physical/virtual mobility). In any case, it is worthy to check available funding opportunities/programmes to support study visits/job shadowing activities.

In the first alternative, if there exists a network of institutions cooperating more closely, you can communicate this opportunity to them (e.g. a project consortium, EURAXESS network, other international networks).

When you plan to send your support staff to participate in a study visit/job shadowing it is important to consider:

  • collecting and analyzing support staff training needs (via survey, interviews)

  • identifying preferences of the target group for the type of the capacity-building event (study visit for more experienced staff, job shadowing for newcomers)

  • identifying HEIs delivering desired service (s) in a systematic way at the high-quality level

  • approaching selected partner HEIs, if possible to organise study visit/job shadowing event (s),

  • determine the format of the study visits (online or onsite)

Selection process

  • Define study visit/job shadowing participation principles and eligibility if not already set by the existing programme

  • Define max. duration of the study visit/job shadowing 

  • Define application procedure

  • Application procedure should comprise:

    • mobility plan

    • dissemination plan of the SV outcomes

  • Ensure easy and transparent selection for the participation in SV/JS

Evaluation and dissemination

  • Prepare an evaluation report template for participants to submit after their SV/JS participation.

  • Prepare mechanisms/ ways for knowledge dissemination that would be valuable for the home institution/departments in vertical and horizontal lines

  • Use standard procedures for implementation of new practices at the home institution (ensure support for such innovations from the top management).

Challenges to consider:

During the recent pandemic developments, online events proved as more feasible and much less expensive to organise. Suitable tools and online formats ensuring active interaction and sharing will have to be chosen (group work in smaller groups, discussion boosters used, providing opportunities for sharing, wrapping up, and feedback). It is also good to use some ice-breaking activities so that the participants can get to know one another a bit better and thus create a collaborative and safe atmosphere during the online event. 

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Centre of continuous/adult education
Partners involved in practice setup
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • Ministry of Education/Science/Research
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Immigration office
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Peer learning activity (s) set up

Internal Actors

@ Centre of continuous/ adult education - HE managers/leadership in collaboration with the institutional Centre of continuous/adult education may motivate their support staff in participating in the events via credits for their further career promotion.

External collaborators

@ Other HEIs/research organisations in city/region/country, EURAXESS centre can join forces to organise inter-institutional events, designing agenda an inviting guest experts/speakers (hosting role can circulate among institutions)

Practice delivery

In general:

  • Collect ideas for possible activities/areas that could be covered by inter-institutional events

  • Prepare and publish a calendar and schedule of inter-institutional events ahead (if possible), so that potential participants can plan their attendance. 

  • Try to engage newcomer staff

  • Ensure regular attendance of staff in case a series of events is being organised

  • Collect feedback

  • Analyse the collected feedback

Study visits/job shadowing:

  • promote the offered study visit internally via various communication channels

  • set the deadline for registration of participants

  • define maximum capacity

  • secure transparent selection procedure

  • provide financial and technical support  

  • ensure dissemination of knowledge and implementation of newly learned practices across the home institution

  • if possible try to implement any potential recommendations for improvements


Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Legal department
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • Immigration office
  • Tax office
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Education/Science/Research
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Number of trainings implemented annually
  • Number of events organized annually
  • Number of events participants annually
  • Number of study visits
  • Number of study visit participants

Internal Actors

@ Centre of continuous/ adult education - HE managers/leadership in collaboration with the institutional Centre of continuous/adult education may motivate their support staff in participating in the events via credits for their further career promotion.

External collaborators

@ Other HEIs/research organisations in city/region, EURAXESS centre can join forces to organise inter-institutional events, designing agenda an inviting guest experts/speakers (hosting role can circulate among institutions)

Examples of practice

Workshops for research and academic staff advisors


Twice a year EURAXESS Germany provides workshops for research and academic staff advisors working at institutions of higher education in Germany and giving advice and support to internationally mobile researchers and academics.  EURAXESS workshops are offered in centralised and decentralised mode.

The centralised workshops usually take place in Bonn and are organised by EURAXESS Germany, whereas decentralised ones are organised by German members of the EURAXESS network and are held in their place.
Besides up-to-date information on relevant topics for research and academic staff advisors the workshop typically also offers a forum for exchange and networking.