Fernando’s Erasmus+ Staff Week experience at Keele University

He has been away for just one week and has returned to Valencia with a lot of new ideas and proposals: our university’s Social Media Manager Fernando Leandro has visited Keele University under the Erasmus+ scheme and here he shares with us this 5-day experience in one of the biggest and most Harry Potter-ish campuses in the United Kingdom!


Once upon a time…June 2016

A WEEK IN A PERSON’S LIFE

A week equals to seven days and 2180 is the number of kilometres between Valencia and Manchester, where fate, google, several e-mails, agreements and a very large number of people allied themselves and made it possible for me to enjoy a learning stay at Keele University.

When you have  good product you don’t need to do a lot of Marketing; at least that is what I thought when I saw the wonderful environment surrounding this university. Keele University is located in an enviable and truly privileged scenic place. Students can enjoy a peaceful and cosy environment with many green areas where they can do sports, meet other students, drift around and be in contact with nature. Add to the formula a great bunch of professionals and well, the result is just exemplary.

FIRST DAY - Erasmus+ Staff Week at Keele University Juny 2016

But now let’s face the difficult task of summarizing and go through all of the events and special moments I have experienced during these days:

DAY 1 – MONDAY

I really liked their leadership skills. Promoting active participation of students in working teams is done through what they call Ambassadors (interns for us). It was surprising to see how students are given full acknowledgment and trust in the tasks they are assigned. They delegate and that has a positive impact in the outcome. I really liked the high degree of commitment shown by the different teams. The whole service threw itself into the organization and all the members took part in the activities – even during off hours – to make sure that everything went well. When you are there and you see how they pay attention to detail you can easily understand why they are always at the very top of student satisfaction surveys.

The Student Support & Development Services firmly believes in the importance of Social Media. On the first day we were given several talks on how they use Social Media to improve user satisfaction. After the talks we worked in teams and shared our experiences on the matter.

TOP TIPS ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

  • Don’t be too formal, use a more relaxed, conversational approach but do let the reader know who they are talking do
  • Keep content varied.
  • Be proactive, respond to posts
  • Post at peak times

DAY 2 – TUESDAY

And of course there is always some time for sightseeing when you participate in an Erasmus+ Staff Week, so on this second day we got the chance to visit Middleport Pottery and Trentham Garden. Life is beautiful and even more when you try out new things!

SECOND DAY - Erasmus+ Staff Week at Keele University Juny 2016

Again, we worked in teams so we could discuss about our own experiences. It is very interesting to see that all university employees face the very same issues:

  • Cuts to funding
  • Financial support
  • Competition in students recruitment
  • Matching demands: Students untake – Quality of teaching
  • Internationalization: appealing to students across the globe
  • Education integration: Exchange programmes – what can you offer?
  • Responding to change. Eg: Digital Media

I would like to highlight the determination shown by the Student Union. I was surprised by the self-confidence of the students that presented their daily work to us, which is a clear reflection of their own self-assurance.

I feel very lucky for participating in this meeting, I couldn’t think of better hosts! They have put a lot of effort and payed great attention to every single detail. No wonder they are among the top-10 universities for student experience, as they have shown us during this week. They love what they do and they are perfectly aware of what they can and what they should offer. Congratulations to Ian Munton and his team.

DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY

A quick summary of my meeting with the Social Media team at Keele University:

  • The use of Instagram is prioritized by the team as a way to showcase their facilities and surroundings. Most of the pictures they post are related to these
  • They are starting to broadcast on Facebook Live
  • They also make 360º videos
  • They use Sprout Social to manage their Social Media
  • They use Snapchat and get the help of their students to manage it. After talking with them I became absolutely convinced that universities should start using this tool.

And a visit to Harper Adams University, winner of the 2016 University of the Year Award. Future agreements between our university and Harper Adams to come, keep in touch!

THIRD DAY - Erasmus+ Staff Week at Keele University Juny 2016

It rained every day, but at the end you get used to it: the same way you take your wallet before going out, here you also grab an umbrella just in case it rains. Thanks to this climate everything looks green and leafy around here. Cows graze calmly on the pastures and forests, only to be interrupted by curious students looking for a selfie.

DAY 4 – THURSDAY

Meals to remember at Keele Hall, all of them washed down with Spanish wine. Delicious moments in a magnificent library surrounded by splendid books, just a mere sample of the great culture hidden in this place.

And thinking about people who “leave a trace”, those with a charismatic and unique personality, I must admit that Paula Dalziel – residential manager at Manchester Metropolitan University – is one of the first to come to my mind.

FOURTH DAY - Erasmus+ Staff Week at Keele University Juny 2016

DAY 5 – FRIDAY

The grand finale of this eventful week came with our visit to MiddlePort Pottery. They had a special farewell gift for us: a pottery piece we made ourselves that they will be sending over to us via mail.

I will be taking home a lot of great memories and a piece of clay as a remembrance of one of the best experiences of 2016, thank you!

And on the seventh day he rested…that is the reason why, that last day of the week, I decided to go back to the place where the sun is always shining, my country, but with renovated energy and a new enthusiasm.

Would you like to see it for yourself?

Here I have gathered some 25 videos that will give you a glimpse of my experience, though they don’t even get closer to the real thing.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

In conclusion, I would really recommend that everyone take part in an Erasmus+ Staff Training experience because it is very fulfilling from a personal, cultural and professional point of view. I would like to thank all the institutions, professionals and services who made these stays possible.

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