Born in Germany, Wolfgang Laschet, EU programme coordinator at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), lived in Sweden and Belgium before moving to Norway, and takes pleasure in helping others gain from an international experience. ‘For students, it’s a chance to get a specialisation you wouldn’t get at home; for staff, it’s an opportunity to see a different teaching style and create links that could lead to other projects.’
One of his priorities has been to reduce paperwork for exchange students, and he has introduced simple online procedures to this end. ‘I believe that NTNU’s approach to this problem has contributed a bit to our position of being Norway’s most popular destination for incoming students.’ And he regrets what he sees as a trend in some institutions to become less flexible about Erasmus partnerships, obstructing student mobility. ‘Many dreams have been crushed by unnecessary bureaucracy,’ he warns.
He was instrumental in setting up the ATHENS Network of technical universities, whose Intensive Programme in engineering launched 15 years ago is now entirely self-supporting. Its 15 institutions now hold two international weeks a year, offering 70 to 90 courses in engineering and architecture to some 1 800 students. He also started summer courses in Norwegian, which have expanded to cater for 180 students, with a focus on nature and teambuilding. ‘Swimming in a cold lake is very good for teambuilding!’ he laughs. Asked for three words that sum up the Erasmus experience, he replies: ‘Privilege. Self-reflection. Joy.’
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway (Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, Norge)
EU programme coordination