The international conference „Student Engagement – Recognition and Inclusion Tools” took place online, on April 23 2021. It was organized by the Volunteer Centre of the University of Warsaw (VC UW). Over 100 people from 12 countries participated in the meeting.
For over two years, the European Consortium of the European STudent Engagement Project (European STEP) has been researching how universities recognize and support student engagement into extracurricular activities. The event organized by the University of Warsaw was an opportunity to present the outputs of the project, as well as good practices implemented by our university.
The Importance of the Student Engagement from the International Perspective
EU Youth Strategy of the European Commission for 2019-2027 emphasises the active role of the youth in society and the importance of their engagement and “civic, economic, social, cultural and political participation”. High attendance of the participants proves that the topic of student engagement as well as the tools that might be used in order to facilitate students extracurricular activities, is a matter of importance for many actors in the academic community. It is worth noticing that 75% of the participants were employees of universities, non-governmental organizations and institutions cooperating with students, and 25% were students (including representatives of student organizations). Participants came from countries such as: Belgium, Norway, Lithuania, Romania, Austria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Hungary, France, Germany, Turkey and Poland.
Among the speakers at the conference „Student Engagement – Recognition and Inclusion Tools” were representatives of the University of Warsaw (Poland), Dublin City University (Ireland), the network of student associations Animafac (France) and the European University Foundation (Luxembourg). Dr Justyna Godlewska-Szyrkowa, Rector’s Plenipotentiary for Quality of Education, opened the conference on behalf of the Rector and Vice-Rector of the University of Warsaw.
Diversity of Perspectives and Topics
The event was a great occasion to discuss topics connected with the recognition and valorisation of student engagement by higher education institutions. Katarzyna Kucharska from VC UW, co-author of the report European Higher Education Institutions Recognise Student Engagement? European Survey Report , talked about the tools and good practices of recognizing student engagement and supporting various forms of extracurricular student activities at European universities. Maria Ly and Alessandra Palagiano from Animafac presented a four-step guide to help students and staff members of higher education institutions to advocate for the recognition of student engagement (document is available online: https://www.animafac.net/media/Guidebook-of-practices.pdf).
Based on the project examples taken from the Volunteer Centre of the University of Warsaw, Małgorzata Wiśniewska talked about various forms of student engagement in the time of social isolation caused by the pandemic. The same activities were also starting points for Miriam Kołak’s workshop on the communication and promotion of the student engagement. Both speakers are members of the VC UW team.
The topic of competencies development through the student engagement activities could not be missed during the event. Dr Úna Redmond and Pádraig Sheehan from Dublin City University talked about how to identify and present acquired skills, for example during the recruitment process. Concurrently, Dr Mateusz Płatos from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Warsaw presented the Universal Design Perspective, that is a tool for the increase of engagement of the students on the autism spectrum.
The expert panel on the topic of the engagement of the international students as a tool to develop the academic community, was a final part of the conference. Katarzyna Basisty, head of the Welcome Point of the University of Warsaw, presented various forms of the projects run by her unit in cooperation with the VC UW and other organisations and offices. Viktoryia Terzieva from the European University Foundation talked about the tools developed during the European STEP Training, that might be used by universities to enhance the engagement of students. Gvantsa Tvaliashvili a graduate of the University of Warsaw introduced the audience to her experience as an engaged and active volunteer.
More information about the recognition and valorisation of student engagement from the perspective of European Union countries, good practices, and the European STEP:
Conference organizer: the Volunteer Centre of the University of Warsaw, composed of Katarzyna Żakowska, director of VC UW; Katarzyna Kucharska, coordinator of the European STEP project on behalf of the University of Warsaw; Małgorzata Wiśniewska and Miriam Kołak-Pleśniak.
Friday 23.04.2021 (April 23) 9:45-15:45 ( 9:45am-3:45pm, CET)
Main topics of the event:
In case of any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the coordinator of the event: Katarzyna Kucharska, km.kucharska[at]uw.edu.pl
Participation in the event was free of charge.