The ECIU not only offers innovative mobility products to the students. The international consortium ECIU is about more than just studying. Take the Student Union (SU) from the University of Twente (UT), for example. They went to partner university Nottingham to take a look at how their colleagues do things. Or what about the largest relay race in the world, the Batavierenrace? An ECIU student team participated in 2016.
‘We learned from the best’
The SU board from Enschede visited its fellow administrators in the English city of Nottingham. They went there for inspiration. With success, because they returned home with some excellent new ideas.
‘In the UK, all universities must have a Union,’ explains Jordi Weggemans (UT) ‘In the Netherlands, only the University of Twente has a Student Union. The scope of the SU in Nottingham cannot be compared to ours. Their organisation is much bigger and employs 90 full-timers. We learned a lot from them, particularly regarding business operations. The money that students spend, for example in the university bar, flows right back to the Union. The SU then invests this money in facilities for the students.’
They also returned home with some concrete ideas. ‘In Nottingham, there are no lectures on Wednesday afternoons. That gives students more time to pursue activism and sports. This year, we will evaluate whether students here in Enschede are interested in a similar system.’
This proposal exemplifies the usefulness of the work visit in the context of the ECIU. In addition to Nottingham, the administrators from Twente also looked at universities in London and Oxford. ‘Because the Student Unions in the UK are so large and have been around for so long, we were able to learn from the best.’
‘I felt responsible to represent my university in the ECIU team’
Batavierenrace is an annual relay race in the Netherlands with thousands of participants and a 175-kilometre-long route that leads from Nijmegen to Enschede, making it one of the biggest student races in the world. In 2016, an ECIU running team participated in the race for the first time.
One of the ECIU participants was the Lithuanian PhD student Egle Vaičiukynaite from Kaunas University of Technology. ‘It was a huge challenge for me,’ says Vaičiukynaite. ‘I am not an athlete, whereas a large part of the ECIU group were well-trained runners. I had to train hard to finish my stage (7.4 km). It was nice to have this goal and as a PhD student, it is great to run and to refresh your mind.’
‘A bachelor’s, a master’s and a PhD student from our university took part in the race. I felt responsible to represent my university. At the same time, it was really nice to meet other team members and leaders. It was a great experience. Although we were all different, we felt like a team. We all had different skills and experience that helped us to learn from each other. We wanted to achieve something together. You might view that as a metaphor for the ECIU collaboration.’
‘We ended up in 30th place. Many of our runners came first or second on their individual stages. We had the fastest runner to cross the finish line on the final track, outrunning all other competitors with impressive speed of 20.63 km/h. During the event, we slept in a tent on the campus and that was a wonderful experience as well. After the race, there was a big party. When I think back on the event now, I experience the positive emotions all over again.’