Greece, 1987

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My Erasmus story

 

My Erasmus story starts in September 1987 when 4 smiling young students from a German university came to my office at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) informing me that they were Erasmus students of the Program European Business Studies – in which our university participated - and that they wished to spend a semester with us taking courses in English. As I had no idea about this visit, I welcomed them and I kindly requested 3 German-speaking professors of ours to help them giving them academic work of their fields, chosen by their German colleagues for the 4 incoming students.

And that was the beginning of Erasmus at AUEB!

In 1989, AUEB Business Administration Department was selected by the European Commission (EC) to participate in the ECTS Pilot Scheme which was launched by EC in order to solve academic recognition issues with the use of credits in students’ mobility. AUEB nominated the ECTS Departmental Coordinator (professor representing the Dept  of Business Administration) and me as ECTS Institutional Coordinator for the university, according to the instructions of EC.

We started working for the correct implementation of the system with the colleagues from all EC countries, having to apply proper rules for students’ mobility and based on mutual trust and confidence among partners.

The students were moving from one partner institution to the other having a concrete study program and ensured that all academic work carried out in the host institution would be fully recognized from the home university in credits, grades and time spent, upon successful completion of studies. To this aim and having in mind a good organization of student mobility in the framework of the Erasmus Programme all partners, following the EC guidelines,  prepared Erasmus-ECTS Course Catalogues and  put in place 3 types of documents: the Student Application Form, the  Learning Agreement and the Transcript of Records. These 4 documents proved to be of great value for the partner institutions, the academics involved and above all for perspective Erasmus students.

The years went by and ECTS, being tested as the most adequate tool for academic recognition purposes,  is implemented nowadays  in all higher education systems in Europe and other continents for mobile and not-mobile students.

Having worked for 30 years almost on a daily basis for the Erasmus Programme I acquired valuable experience and knowledge, I cooperated with colleagues form other universities exchanging ideas and expertise for the benefit of our students, aiming at their fair and equal treatment. I met quite interesting people from International Relations Offices and we tried together to give more chances to our students, while informing them about the benefits of the Erasmus Programme.

As I was nominated by EC – and later by my country - as ECTS/DS expert I had the chance to visit more or less 300 universities in Greece, in other EC countries and abroad, in order to help interested institutions in the correct use of ECTS, to see their good practice and how it could be further improved. It is needless to say that I offered with great pleasure my best to my own university aiming at increasing the student and staff mobility with recognition, while strongly supporting AUEB motto for Erasmus: “Erasmus, keep flying high”.  

Regarding the Diploma Supplement, I started working for its proper preparation in 2004 and continued all my efforts in disseminating related information to institutions in Greece and abroad.

The honorary distinctions awarded to me in recognition of my contribution to the development of the Erasmus Programme include the following:

  • Erasmus Student Association of AUEB, 1992, for my initiative and support  to create the association, first in Greece
  • AUEB, MBA Programme, 2004, for supporting the students of the Programme to their successful participation in Erasmus
  • Hellenic National Agency, 2010, in recognition to the significant offer to the Erasmus Programme
  • Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques, Republique Francaise, 2011, for the support of Francophonie and the French ERASMUS students at AUEB
  • Free University of Varna, Bulgaria, 2011, for the successful support and advice which led to the award by the EC of the ECTS and Diploma Supplement Label to the institution
  • European Commission,  Erasmus Staff Ambassador of Greece, 2012, for the 25-year (1987-2012),  successful implementation of the Erasmus Programme at AUEB
  • AUEB, 2014, for my considerable contribution to the excellence of Erasmus at the university
  • European Association of Erasmus Coordinators, 2014, Erasmus Minister 2014, for the extended activities of the Erasmus Programme at AUEB.

During all these years, I had the support to my related activities of EC-DGEAC, the Hellenic Ministry of Education, the Hellenic National Agency, my university authorities and I am thankful to all of them as they helped me to make reality my dream for European students to live together in the Europe of Knowledge, the Europe of Solidarity, of Friendship and Peace.

I was and am very happy having dedicated my life to Erasmus, the most precious EC programme and above all to the thousands of students I encouraged all these 30 years to participate and benefit from the great value of Erasmus, believing with me to the European Idea.

Last but not least, I would like to make a wish for the unique Erasmus Programme:

“Dear Erasmus, Happy Anniversary and Keep Flying High”

This Erasmus story is dedicated to all my Erasmus students, incoming and outgoing, and to my unforgettable colleagues during my 30-year life with Erasmus.

Thank you very much for your time.

 Katerina Galanaki-Spiliotopoulos

A simple worker for the construction of the

European Higher Education Building

 

Athens, February 2018