EUniWell School Ambassador meeting in Cologne
EUniWell School Ambassadors from seven partner universities, including the Universities of Birmingham, Cologne, Florence, Murcia, Nantes Université, Linnaeus University, and Semmelweis University, recently joined a second in-person brainstorming session at the University of Cologne. The goal of the meeting was to strengthen the EUniWell School Ambassadors’ community by building upon the ideas gained from local School Ambassador activities and initiating the creation of joint action plans. The meeting further focused on identifying best practices for engaging and informing disadvantaged high-school students, while outlining possible intervention and communication methods to further improve the EUniWell School Ambassador Programme.
The 2.5-day-programme was organised and facilitated by Leonie Tillmanns, EUniWell Mobility Manager at the University of Cologne and Talentscout Stefanie Ruetz from the Central Student Advisory Service at the University of Cologne. Stefanie Ruetz shared her positive experience, remarking, “liked the best that you as a group made it very easy for us coordinators to work with you – as an active group with great ideas! I have respect for what lies ahead of us but I am also excited.”
In her role as the coordinator of the EUniWell School Ambassador Programme, Eszter Turopoli from Semmelweis University played a pivotal role in supporting the School Ambassadors in the lead-up to the meeting, guiding the in-person sessions, and presenting the outcomes and future plans of the EUniWell School Ambassador Programme.
Gaining insights into educational equity across Europe
Participants were welcomed by Dr. Graham Harrison, Managing Director of EUniWell, who highlighted the importance of student engagement and their contribution to EUniWell’s overall goals and mission.
Afterwards, the students shared their educational biographies with each other during an interactive workshop. Each Ambassador was then invited to give a presentation on educational equityin their home country. They discussed statistics related to first-generation university students at both the national level and within their own institutions, while offering potential explanations for these numbers.
The Ambassadors also highlighted their local initiatives, activities and measures designed to address educational inequality. Various factors contributing to this inequality were discussed, including family background, financial limitations, family dependency, psychological barriers such as guilt, anxiety and the fear of fitting in, as well as lack of awareness about support systems and universities’ entry requirements.
Brainstorming and exchanging ideas
On the second day, participants delved into an intensive co-creational activity aiming to address key questions : “How can School Ambassadors promote equal opportunities in the educational system?” and “What innovative ideas do you have?”
To provide a theoretical foundation, as well as practical guidelines and methods, Miriam Fußangel, Transfer Scout of the Gateway Exzellenz Start-up Center of University of Cologne, was invited to offer her insights and some practical advice to the students.
Following an intensive brainstorming session, the group transitioned into a co-creational workshop. Here, the Ambassadors shared their ideas and worked on specific action plans.
The most favoured ideas among the students included:
- Creating a EUniWell podcast about student life aimed at high school students, called “EUniCast”,
- Developing a dedicated social media strategy and activities including Instagram takeovers and TikTok videos targeting high school students,
- Creating learning materials for new EUniWell School Ambassadors (Booklet with different chapters), combined with a yearly in-person workshop series.
During the closing session, the next steps and tasks were clearly defined. The participants agreed on facilitating the implementation of the discussed ideas and related action plans, underpinned by the Ambassadors’ ongoing engagement and active involvement.
To wrap up the event, some students visited the first EUniWell Open Mic event, organised by the EUniWell Student Arena in Cologne.
Voices of our School Ambassadors
Our School Ambassador Programme is truly something special, and the following testimonials from our dedicated members speak volumes:
Victoria Wilson, a student at the University of Birmingham, shared her enthusiasm for our programme, saying, “I was surprised how many different ideas everyone had, and I am so glad to be involved at such an early stage of the programme.”
Letizia Di Donato from the University of Florence reminds us of the vital role our ambassadors play: “To be a school ambassador means helping future generations on their way to university and to help them to feel less lost – especially in post-pandemic times.”
Constantin Parow from the University of Cologne highlights the global impact of the community. To him, being a School Ambassador means: “Having an international community and noticing that there are many people who want to help all over the world.”
Flóra Oláh, representing Semmelweis University, emphasised the unity of purpose within our international group, saying that to her being a School Ambassador means, “Working in an international group which has the same aims and goals.”
The passion, creativity, and commitment of our members, as expressed through these testimonials, are what drive the programme’s success and make it a force for positive change.
The EUniWell School Ambassador Programme
The EUniWell School Ambassador Programme is designed to build strong relationships with local schools to promote lifelong learning and educational equality for young people. Its objective is to raise the aspirations of young people and promote European educational opportunities across EUniWell communities. Partner universities’ ambassadors have extended the reach of EUniWell into local communities, fostering engagement with local schools, and championing social diversity and equal opportunities at high schools.
The main target group of the programme is secondary school students, who, for various reasons such as social or economic difficulties experienced in different countries, have fewer opportunities. The Programme involves preferably (but not exclusively) first-generation university students from a wide variety of social and cultural backgrounds to provide authentic ambassadors of the partner universities and dignified role models in local communities and schools.
The EUniWell School Ambassador Programme will be further developed in EUniWell’s second phase, starting on 1 November 2023, as a part of the Civic Engagement and Knowledge Transfer activities .
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