Report on Aurora Mini-Grant Scheme

Tuesday, April 13, 2021 | After a very successful first call for applications, in which 27 applications were filed, the Aurora Central Office at Palacky University has finished its evaluation.

The project applications and project evaluations are currently being reviewed by the Vice-Deans for internationalization, at their request, with the final outcomes expected by the end of this week. The selected projects are to be funded by the Palacky University Rectorate. 

This pilot phase of UP Aurora Mini-Grants received a wide range of applications, spanning several different fields, from five of our faculties.

The applicants were asked to specify whether their project dealt with Education, Research, and/or Professionalization, with most proposals concentrating on either Education or research. 

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The applicants were also asked to disclose the partner and associate partners named and included in the proposal. The University of Innsbruck and our associate partners from Kosice proved to be the most frequent collaborators.

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In line with the overall vision and aims of the Aurora Alliance, applicants were asked to tie their proposals to one or several Aurora Pilot Domains. 


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The Sustainable Development Goals also hold an important position in all of Aurora’s endeavors. The applicants were asked to pick at least one of the SDGs and demonstrate how their proposal contributes to that goal. SDG 4: Quality Education and SGD 17: Partnership for the Goals were chosen most often, with SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being proving popular as well.

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The UP Aurora Office looks back on a promising, successful pilot phase for its Mini-Grant scheme. We are looking forward to further developing the scheme for future calls, and above all, we look forward to seeing these Mini-Grants contribute to the excellent international projects our Academics will carry out! 

Looking back on the first CDS Awareness Raising Meeting Webinar

On Friday the 26th of March, the Aurora Alliance organized its first Capacity Development Support (CDS) Awareness Raising Webinar. This meeting, the first of series of six, focused on “Transforming teaching through soft skills, social engagement, and virtual exchange competencies”. As such, it tied into a wide range of Aurora Alliance activities, covering all of the Alliance’s three substantive work packages.

The webinar was organized by Aurora CDS Task Team leader & co-leader – Palacky University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The sessions were moderated by Selma Porobic (Chair, UP), Anna Bon (co-chair VU), Tereza Kalouskova (co-chair, UP).

„One of the most informative webinars that I have attended lately. It allowed me to see how many opportunities the alliance offers and how many professionals are actively involved in this initiative. Your enthusiasm, creative ideas, and motivation were visible from the first moment. I am happy to be part of your team!“

Mgr. Mária Vasiľová PhD., Pavol Jozef Šafárik University

The webinar gathered our associate partner universities and Alliance members, to take part and discuss three important Aurora deliverables in our joint collaboration: Competence Framework, Service Learning & Co-creation, and VirtualExchange, aiming to initiate the co-creation process with our associate partners.

Kees Kouwenaar (the Secretary-General for the Aurora Universities Network) came to the VU in 2008 as Director for the Centre for International Cooperation and has also managed the VU’s Strategic Internationalisation Programme. Since 2015, Kouwenaar played a key role and is now coordinating the Aurora Universities.

His presentation focused on two distinct examples of competencies from the EntreComp Framework and the VALUE Rubrics framework to highlight how these “soft skills” added to the subject-related knowledge and skills of the course may advance the employability and recognisability of the students/graduates and offer pathways to international peer learning among academic teachers.

“The participation of the UT as an associate partner in such a network, alongside leading universities in research and innovation, presents an excellent opportunity to follow the pace of dynamic developments in the academic world.”

University of Tetova

Marjolein Zweekhorst is professor of innovation and education at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her research aims to provide insight into themes related to inter- and transdisciplinary research and is focused on the development of educational approaches and innovations in health and life science education and methodology development for interactive policy and interactive technology development in the field of (international) public health (aiming to improve access to health care especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Sarju Sing Rai is a postdoctoral lecturer for Masters program courses – Research Methods, Epidemiology, Global Health, and a researcher in the field of health and societal sciences – community service learning (CSL), global health (GH), and public health (PH).

Their presentation introduced Service Learning and Co-creation as concepts and discussed how these are being developed within their Aurora Alliance task team to support staff and students and equip them with the knowledge, skills, and mindset to tackle societal challenges as social entrepreneurs and innovators.

Barbara Tasser is head of International Services at the University of Innsbruck. Since 2004, Tasser has been in charge of the Italy Centre, and the past five years now of the university’s International Services. Before dedicating herself to intercultural relations, she dived into the history of humankind. In 1992, Tasser began her archaeology studies at the University of Innsbruck.

In her presentation about Virtual Mobility, Dr. Tasser introduced and clarified the concept of virtual exchange and introduced the developing model of the Aurora task team Borderless Learning that she is leading.

Thanks to all! The 1 CDS meeting was most inspiring and productive in terms of understanding of the concept of the deliverables. It is always a pleasure to meet professionals and learn more! The information about the CDS Awareness Raising Meeting webinar will be posted on V.N.Karazin Kharkiv National University site.

Olena Mashintsova, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University

The webinar proved to be an excellent starting point for further discussion on the Competence Framework, Service Learning & Co-creation, and Virtual Exchange, as the morning presentations cumulated in a fruitful brainstorming session and discussion, looking ahead to the implementation of these concepts across the Aurora CDS network. 

The 1st CDS Awareness Raising Meeting Webinar put important accents on three modern and envisaging deliverables: Competence Framework, Service Learning & Co-Creation, and Virtual Mobility. The seminar was engaging, interactive, educational, and very productive. New ideas and opportunities for internationalization at home were born. The brainstorming process was really moving. Definitely looking forward to attending the 2nd Meeting! Thank you for your eagerness and inspiration!

Stanislav Grozdanov, South-West University “Neofit Rilski”

Continuing the conversation started during this webinar, the next CDS meeting will take place in the second part of the year.

The presentations, outcomes, and full recording of the session are available upon request, please contact Tereza Kalouskova if you are interested in any of these materials.