Networking institutional events for support staff

The main aim of institutional events for support staff is to strengthen the professional knowledge of support staff through different types of meetings/events but also optimize information flows and procedures. Via these events, they can share experience and ideas, develop and share contacts within and outside of the organisation and improve internal processes. External experts/partners can be invited to such events or they can be organised jointly with them to expand and deepen collaborations for the sake of a smoother incoming researcher and academic staff mobility. The practice could eventually prepare the ground or even lead towards a broader scope of further professional development activities for support staff, including various focused trainings.


Better communication and cooperation Improved access to information Improved quality of service

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
Practice setup

When establishing the effective and successful institutional events for support staff you should take into consideration the following steps:

Phase 1 – Mapping the current state

The periodicity, and number of organised events can depend on the size of institution. In general, when defining the plan for this practice, consider collecting information about the following points at your institution:

  • number of support staff both at faculty and at university level dealing with incoming researchers/PhD students/academic staff

  • the necessity and ways of collaboration of support staff across different departments dealing with international researchers/PhD students/academic staff (e.g. International Relations Office/Welcome office, HR office, Study department, Research office)

  • the quality of collaboration of support staff at International Relations Offices/Welcome office within the HEI as a whole

  • communication channels and the quality of information flow within the faculty/university departments about international researchers/PhD students/academic staff coming to your institution

  • the biggest/most frequent issues and obstacles faced by support staff when supporting incoming researchers/PhD students/academics 

  • support staff's professional development needs identified e.g. via a quick survey asking about:

    • legal issues knowledge such as social security and health insurance, residence permit and visa, education recognition, authentication of documents

    • intercultural skills and diversity understanding

    • professional networks/partners and networking opportunities

    • dual career opportunities overview

    • foreign language kompetence

    • communication skills and conflict prevention

    • IT skills

    • presentation and promotion, ...

  •  Note: The survey could also address other practices aimed at futher development of support staff.

It is also interesting to find out about:           

  • number of events/activities organised for support staff at your institution (including e.g. Erasmus + for administrative staff)

  • feedback (if any) of support staff regarding the institutional events organised for them 

  • possibilities of other professional development activities for support staff organised by external partners and their periodicity - e.g. study visits, seminars/webinars, conferences

  • what external partners the support staff typically cooperates with when dealing with incoming researchers/PhD students/academic staff and the level of intensity of such collaborations (EURAXESS centres, immigration offices, municipality, accommodation establishments, social insurance company, health insurance company, etc.)

Phase 2 - Detailed planning

Based on the activities in Phase 1:

  • draft the major focus and scope of the events e.g.:

    • seminars with external partners/collaborators

    • expertise exchange, sharing some case studies

    • joint work on e.g. standardised procedures towards welcoming/onboarding incoming researchers/PhD students and academics, further compiling the list of external partners/collaborators with contacts (and ways how to share such content),

    • expert working groups preparing specialised content

    • relevant courses/trainings

  • define the periodicity and duration of events/meetings

  • define the level and departments that should constitute the core of such events. The meetings can be held at:

    • faculty level – e.g. study department, HR office and international relations office could communicate the major challenges and latest updates regarding incoming researchers together in order to facilitate the whole proces of internalizationation

    • university level - international relations offices and rectorate discuss the current issues when receiving and supporting the international researchers/PhD students and other academics

Phase 3 - Delivery planning

  • create the communication platform through which you will communicate with the support staff members on a regular basis (e.g. internal application, email, whatsapp, MS Teams)

  • appoint the major responsibilities (there could be the main responsible department/unit scheduling the upcoming events, however various departments/units can host the meetings/events to take turns)

  • communicate with external partners and invite them for the events organised for the support staff members during trainings

  • prepare/update the list of available opportunities for further development of your support staff members and inform about them

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Study department
  • Research office
  • Rector's office / Vice-Rector for International Affairs
Partners involved in practice setup
  • EURAXESS centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Process organization developed
  • Number of initiatives with needs analysis carried out

Internal actors:

@HR office -this department is probably responsible for all the relevant documents regarding wages, taxation, social security and related information provided to academics/researchers, in some case even to PhD students

@International relations office - this department is probably responsible for the whole process of internationalization/welcoming and providing all relevant information and assistance to incoming PhD students/researchers/academics

@Study department - this department is typically responsible for PhD students

@Research office - this department is probably reponsible for any agenda related to research

@Dean´s office -  can initiate and support regular meetings and networking events among support staff at faculty level

@Vice-Rectorate´s office - can initiate and support regular meetings and networking events among support staff at international relations offices

External collaborators:

@EURAXESS centre - might organise similar events for the EURAXESS Network members and a broader audience, so it is advised to coordinate with them and check their updates


Practice delivery

Delivery of practice depends on the actual scope, focus, and types of events organised.

Internal meetings of support staff members dealing with international researchers/PhD students/academics

  • plan regular meetings with staff and departments dealing with international researchers/PhD students/academics at faculty/university level

  • define the agenda of these meetings e.g.:

    • current issues, getting updated about the latest information

    • sharing case studies, best practices, knowledge, contacts

    • defining task forces - working on defining standardised procedures by various departments, collection of FAQs, checklists

Trainings for support staff within the university with external speakers (see also practice Inter-institutional events for support staff and Soft skill training for support staff)

  • according the survey results (survey aimed at the identification of training needs of support staff), communicate with the relevant partners and organize for the support staff regular trainings in order to enhance their skills when dealing with international researchers/PhD students and other academics - speakers can come from e.g. immigration office, health insurance agency, social insurance agency, municipality, ministries, tax offices, communication or PR trainer, employers recruting internationals for provision of spouse programme, etc.

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • Study department
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Research office
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Immigration office
  • Medical centre
  • Tourist information centre/board
  • Municipality
  • Language centre
  • Embassy
  • Real estate agent
  • Tax office
  • IOM migration information centre
  • Eures office
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • International payroll company
  • International recruiter
  • Employer (with high demand of international staff)
  • Local healthcare professionals
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Education/Science/Research
  • Other HEI (not national)
  • PR agency
  • Job platform
  • Employers association
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Number of events organized annually
  • Number of events participants annually

External collaborators:

@EURAXESS centres - EURAXESS centres can be a great source of information for the support staff. They can communicate the different questions and tasks they face while dealing with the international researchers. Moreover, the support staff can participate in different events organised for them including trainings, webinars etc.

@Municipality/local or regional government - HEIs can collaborate with the municipality or local/regional government when organizing various events or alumni (providing a representative venue for alumni gatherings, international academics welcome address, building the image of the city/region/common brand awareness events, inviting alumni as speakers to various relevant events related to major societal issues...internal meetings of support staff can be used for planning joint avtivities with minicipality/local/regiona government

@ Health insurance companies & social insurance companies & immigration office & tax office - when dealing with different tasks of support staff, collaboration with the staff in health insurance and social insurance companies and immigration, tax offices can be of great help in terms of providing the incoming researchers/PhD students/academics information regarding the health insurance system, social security, work contract, taxation in the country or administrative issues required by the foreign police.

@Other HEIs - In case of study visits or erasmus for administrative staff is important to collaborate with other HE institutions. Thanks to this networking the support staff gain new experience and good practices which can later use in your institution.

Examples of practice

Regular meetings of support staff

Example of good practice - University of Primorska, Slovenia - due to current pandemic situation the support staff of international offices have started regular internal online meetings to keep themselves updated about the latest information. These meetings have detailed agenda program regarding the current issues which need to be discussed. (good practice comes from the personal interview)