They come from Asia, Africa and Latin America: 23 young higher education managers are currently participating in the advanced training programme UNILEAD – while also getting to know the city and its surroundings.
Lots of cyclists, pleasant climatic conditions, but few places for changing money – these are the junior managers’ first impressions in a nutshell. They have already spent more than a week in Oldenburg. It’s their first stay at the university as participants of the project UNILEAD (University Leadership and Management Training); a second stay is planned for September this year.
The aim of this nine months programme is to support the junior managers, who all work at universities in developing countries, in working on specific projects. This could be the development of new study courses or digitizing a university’s administration. The course is online-based with two contact phases in Oldenburg. For the current contact phase, the students have already read study material and worked on an action plan for their individual projects.
Cindy Rianti Priadi from Indonesia is vice head of the “Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering“ at her home university. She works on building an IT system in order to evaluate data on student grades automatically. So far she has only sporadically dealt with her project, she says. “I’m glad to finally start properly and, above all, acquire some theoretical background” she adds.
UNILEAD programme provides new impetus
Learning about project management at the very start of the stay in Oldenburg comes in handy, Rianti Priadi thinks. This is because “we’ve never been trained any administrative skills as civil engineers,” she tells and adds: “The teaching is really good. I have already realised why some things back home have actually failed so far.”
Jorge Cardona Ponce also expects the programme to help him along with structuring his project and putting it into praxis. Born in Bolivia, he is now Social Dean at the EAP Zamorano University in Honduras and in charge of the student life on campus. Here, about 12,000 young people from all over Latin America live and study. Cardona Ponce is responsible for various issues. These range from setting up a sports programme for students to questions about how to tackle drug problems on campus.
To meet these challenges, one needs excellent communication skills, prioritise tasks as well as build up and lead a strong team, Cardona Ponce points out: “You need to start growing as a person and a leader.” The UNILEAD programme, which includes training in human resource management, will hopefully provide him with new impetus, he adds.
Great opportunity to meet professionals with various backgrounds
Devi Rachmasari has already completed the programme in 2016. Since then, she feels well equipped for her work at her university in Indonesia. The economist leads a team of four; their task is to support students who want to start their own business. Thanks to the UNILEAD training she has learned how to set clear goals and how to write successful proposals, she tells. “Only recently, I have secured governmental funding of about 8,000 Euros for my project, which is a great success,” she adds.
UNILEAD is also special in bringing together various people from different countries who can share their experiences and thereby grow together almost like a family, Christine Vajna says. The education manager has been coordinating the UNILEAD programme since 2010. Many of the former participants even talk about a “life changing experience,” she tells. Indeed, “it was a great opportunity to meet so many different people with various professional backgrounds. That profoundly enriched our discussions,” adds Rachmasari.
About one week remains for this year’s students to discuss their ideas across professional, cultural and language barriers. And they also have the chance of getting to know the country and its people – for example on excursions to the VW production site in Emden and to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Bonn, the funding agency of UNILEAD. Cindy Rianti Priadi from Indonesia also tried something completely different and explored the city of Oldenburg by bike. “Even though I got lost it was a lot of fun,” she tells.