Strategic approach to building a welcoming environment and offering quality support services for international academics

Building a welcoming environment and improving support services for international students and staff is a high-level goal that needs to be recognized in the institution's strategies and related action plans. Based on such a strategic approach, institutions could reflect on the topic from a broader perspective related to its contribution to the achievement of the other institutional goals and missions. Incorporating this topic in an institutional strategic plan or internationalization strategy reflects the institution's commitment to these goals and, thus, involves an internal discussion on possible ways to achieve them.


Better communication and cooperation Improved quality of service

Basic information
Categories Institutional Processes Institutional strategy
Mobility stages Institutional setup Pre-arrival phase During mobility phase Pre-departure After-leaving
Delivery schedule Continuous
Importance Essential to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Lecturers (incl. Language Teachers) Administrative staff Management staff
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Permanent employee Visiting scholar Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs)
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 0-3 months 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months
Practice setup

The development of a strategic goal related to building a welcoming environment and improving support services for international academics involves an understanding of where the institution currently stands in these areas (baseline) and what could be done to further promote these goals (ambition/targets) as well as their contribution to the overarching goals in learning and teaching, research and service to society. This requires consulting various internal stakeholders (e.g. student union, faculty members, administrative staff) in order to develop a shared vision and sense of ownership. Depending on the state-of-art and broader institutional objectives, the emphasis could be made on serving a specific group of international academics (e.g. researchers) or further advancing a certain type of engagement (e.g. long-term mobility).   

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Rector's office / Vice-Rector for International Affairs
Partners involved in practice setup
  • Ministry of Education/Science/Research
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Strategic document in place

Collaboration with external partners at the set-up stage could be ensured via regular consultations with the external board members (in case such exist) who could provide their feedback on how creating a welcoming environment and improving support services for international academics could contribute to the institution's service for society from their perspective (e.g. by attracting and training a highly skilled workforce to the region and thus increasing its global competitiveness). 

Furthermore, institutions could discuss their related needs with national and regional funders and advocate for new/additional funding schemes that could help them achieve this goal.

Practice delivery

The implementation of the strategic goal could be supported with a specific action plan or work programme which outlines possible actions accompanied by targets and measures of success and also allocates related financial and staff resources within a given timeframe. Such an action plan should be developed in close collaboration with key internal actors involved in both the strategy's development and delivery to ensure buy-in.      

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
  • PR department
  • Language department
  • Study department
  • Research office
  • Doctoral school
  • Students association
  • Researchers association
  • Library
  • Project management office
  • Career development centre
  • Leisure activities centre (sport centre, museum, garden)
  • Legal department
  • Technology transfer office
  • Incubator
  • Centre of language/studies preparation
  • Centre of continuous/adult education
  • Science park
  • Dormitory/accommodation facility
  • IT support department
  • Quality assurance office
  • Campus health center
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • Municipality
  • Language centre
  • Embassy
  • Real estate agent
  • Immigration office
  • Tax office
  • Medical centre
  • IOM migration information centre
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Eures office
  • Job platform
  • Tourist information centre/board
  • Museum
  • International payroll company
  • International recruiter
  • Employer (with high demand of international staff)
  • Employers association
  • Career advisor
  • Local NGOs or charities
  • Local healthcare professionals

Collaboration with external partners depends on the specific focus of the strategy and related actions planned in the work programme.