Caroline with members of the School of Nursing and Midwifery
From the 28 May - 01 June 2018, I visited the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) as a beneficiary of Erasmus+ Staff Mobility funding through the University of Bath. I first learned that I could access Erasmus+ funding through Dr Graham Wilkie, a Bath alumnus who is now Deputy Head of the International Cooperation team in the European Commission Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. My day to day job in Research and Innovation Services involves working with academics to access EU research funding, so I was delighted to learn that there was European funding to support training opportunities for the administrative staff like myself as well!
I wanted to visit Ireland as I had worked there in the higher education sector for 11 years prior to coming to Bath. Ireland has always done very well in EU funding (partly because their national funding situation isn't as robust as it is in the UK), so I knew there would be a lot of opportunities for knowledge exchange around Horizon 2020 research development, and also to establish and strengthen links between Bath and Irish research institutions, especially with Brexit looming.
Preparations for my visit began in October 2017, when I first contacted the Erasmus team in the International Relations Office about my intention to to apply. I then contacted colleagues in NUIG's Research Office to confirm they could host me. We discussed and agreed upon my training plan and objectives, and by January 2018, all the relevant forms (only two!) were signed and submitted. It was very straightforward.
My hosts at NUIG made sure I had a full schedule. On Monday and Tuesday of my visit, I met with a number of researchers and learned about the main research centres. I also got an overview of how NUIG's research office is organised and discussed which H2020 programmes they focus on (primarily European Research Council and Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions), and the type of support they provide.
I took the opportunity on Wed and Thurs to give my hosts a break, and travelled to Dublin to see colleagues in Maynooth University, Dublin City University, and Trinity College Dublin. The visits ranged from meetings to talk about H2020 funding in general (Maynooth) and European Research Council support (TCD) to a presentation and discussion with DCU about research development practice and research office organisational structures.
On Friday, I returned to NUIG to facilitate a writing sprint at their School of Nursing and Midwifery. Adapted from a creative writing technique, sprints aim to help researchers produce a first funding proposal draft. We worked with a group of novice grant writers, which was enormously fun and a super way to end the week.
Many thanks to the International Relations Office for making the application process so painless, and also to my lovely hosts at the NUIG Research Office - Gary, Silvia, Marina and Kerry. Here's hoping we can continue to benefit from this fantastic programme. I came away from the visit with lots of new ideas, and would love to plan another Erasmus+ Staff Mobility visit in the not too distant future.