Christ­mas time is when many locals think about the next sum­mer – because they start plan­ning their next Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ties. For this, they can count on the sup­port of the new Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Coor­di­na­tion Team. Mar­i­jana Asprovs­ka, Anas­tasi­ia Sheremet, Chris­t­ian Seul­ing and Akshat Jangam are full of ideas, for exam­ple when it comes to bet­ter PR mate­r­i­al. But that’s not all: “One of our main goals is enhanc­ing the over­all qual­i­ty of SUs”, says the new SUCT. “We def­i­nite­ly strive for mak­ing SUs more con­tent­ful.”

Gold­en Times: You have many news about Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ties in 2019? What should the AEGEE mem­bers look for­ward to?

SUCT: We have a lot of news com­ing, so turn noti­fi­ca­tions on not to miss any of them. Our fan­tas­tic four is brain­storm­ing every free sec­ond to gen­er­ate awe­some ideas for next sum­mer sea­son. Most of them will be pleas­ant sur­pris­es for the net­work while we will spill the bean about some. This sea­son we will have lots of dif­fer­ent PR mate­ri­als that would con­tribute great­ly to the recruit­ment and engage­ment, thus, hope­ful­ly, more appli­ca­tions for SUs, also we will give locals the oppor­tu­ni­ty to choose whether to pro­mote offline or online. But that’s not all.

GT: Can you tell more?

SUCT: Sure! The Short Sum­mer Course (SSC) isn’t an SU pilot any­more, but already a ful­ly imple­ment­ed for­mat that along with the oth­er for­mats (SC, SC+, TSU) will be loaded at full capac­i­ty start­ing this sum­mer. SUCT trips will be altered in order to pre­vent pos­si­ble com­pli­ca­tions with orga­ni­za­tion and not only cure the prob­lem when it has already hap­pened. We will try to fit the needs of orga­niz­ing locals by keep­ing con­stant track on the prepa­ra­tion and use a first aid kit if nec­es­sary by vis­it­ing and help­ing before the start of SUs. The eval­u­a­tion algo­rithm will be slight­ly changed mean­ing that the word of par­tic­i­pants will have more weight and the SUCT eval­u­a­tion after­wards won’t be a secret any­more. As you can see, the plans are huge, time is lim­it­ed, there­fore work­ing hard to live up to expec­ta­tions of AEGEEans.

Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty in Skop­je 2018

GT: What’s your strat­e­gy to raise the total num­ber of Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ties and the num­ber of SU appli­cants in 2019?

SUCT: One of our main goals is enhanc­ing the over­all qual­i­ty of SUs. And by doing so we hope to see num­bers ris­ing and project thriv­ing. Our new PR approach focus­es on sto­ry­telling, which will attract not only AEGEE mem­bers but exter­nals as well, more mate­ri­als for locals to pro­mote and gain vis­i­bil­i­ty, coop­er­a­tion with Euro­pean Bod­ies that will add more inter­est in par­tic­i­pat­ing in the SU and an altered appli­ca­tion process that will also help small locals to stand out and nev­er can­cel their plans again, just to men­tion a part of our strat­e­gy.

GT: Many SUs use gener­ic top­ic cat­e­gories like “Sport”, “His­to­ry and Cul­ture”. What’s your strat­e­gy to diver­si­fy the top­ics?

SUCT: We will def­i­nite­ly have a look on that when check­ing the pro­grammes. We will then see whether activ­i­ties would fit the top­ic and also would come up with feed­back for the orga­niz­ers where there could be more pro­gramme or activ­i­ties added.

Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty in Aachen 2018

GT: Pre­vi­ous SUCTs already tried to improve the con­tent qual­i­ty of the SUs. How can you make sure that the anten­nae deliv­er the promised hours of con­tent?

SUCT: We def­i­nite­ly strive for mak­ing SUs more con­tent­ful so locals use bet­ter and more inter­est­ing con­tent in their SU. Although it is dif­fi­cult to ensure the same lev­el of qual­i­ty between the SUs, we are try­ing to shrink the dif­fer­ence this year by strong­ly encour­ag­ing the orga­niz­ers of all the types of SU to coop­er­ate with Euro­pean Bod­ies. This means that in 2019 TSUs, SCs, SC+s and SSCs will be also able to estab­lish an offi­cial coop­er­a­tion and receive the­mat­ic and high­er qual­i­ty of con­tent. We already pub­lished the Book­let “Coop­er­a­tion with Euro­pean Bod­ies” in which all infor­ma­tion can be found.

GT: Will it also be eas­i­er to get a train­er for an SU?

SUCT: We have increased the bud­get for train­er reim­burse­ment which we expect to be an addi­tion­al fac­tor to increase the num­ber of coop­er­a­tions between local orga­niz­ers and Euro­pean Bod­ies. As promised in her pro­gramme, Mar­i­jana as con­tent man­ag­er and train­er from the Acad­e­my is plan­ning Skype meet­ings with the con­tent man­agers of the SUs which will be a way of online train­ing. The goal is to train the con­tent man­agers to deliv­er the planned work­shops in a more dynam­ic and inter­ac­tive way, which will result in a high­er impact on the par­tic­i­pants. On top of this, this year we are chang­ing the data­base of com­pul­so­ry ses­sions.

Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty in Eind­hoven and Utrecht 2018

GT: How so?

SUCT: Apart from the focus areas, we are intro­duc­ing sev­er­al more gen­er­al top­ics which Inter­est Groups and projects in AEGEE are work­ing on. This will show new mem­bers who attend an SU the scope that AEGEE offers. This brings high­er flex­i­bil­i­ty to the local orga­niz­ers for the top­ics they can choose from and will hope­ful­ly mean a high­er qual­i­ty of the con­tent deliv­ered. Final­ly, with the planned detailed check­ing of pro­gramme, we will try to ensure that all SUs run undis­turbed.

GT: Which role do you see for lan­guage cours­es, which hardy take place these days? Do they have a future?

SUCT: Lan­guage cours­es are the ori­gin of the Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Project in 1988. This ori­gin was espe­cial­ly in the 30 years of SUm­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Project high­light­ed and it could be seen that the need by par­tic­i­pants for lan­guage cours­es is also in its fourth decade still present. We would there­fore def­i­nite­ly encour­age locals whose lan­guage is wide­ly spo­ken in the net­work to take aca­d­e­m­ic con­tent with lan­guage cours­es into con­sid­er­a­tion, which would be in line with our goals to real­ize high­er aver­age qual­i­ty con­tent. It is hard to pre­dict the future of lan­guage cours­es, but basi­cal­ly aca­d­e­m­ic con­tent is good and high qual­i­ty con­tent, and this needs to be exact­ly the future of the SU project. How­ev­er, we are already work­ing on it and hope to have next year more than only one lan­guage course.

Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty in Tori­no 2018

GT: The Sum­mer Break, which was exper­i­men­tal in 2018, will offi­cial­ly be part of the SU project — under a new name. What was the expe­ri­ence with the Sum­mer Breaks in 2018?

SUCT: The pilot of the Sum­mer Break, which was intro­duced in the year of its 30th anniver­sary, was indeed offi­cial­ly imple­ment­ed as part of the SU project in Ago­ra Istan­bul as Short Sum­mer Course (SSC). What we could see in the eval­u­a­tions and hear from the pre­vi­ous SUCT, is that the feed­back by orga­niz­ers and par­tic­i­pants was real­ly pos­i­tive. It offers the pos­si­bil­i­ty for small­er locals that are miss­ing resources to still take part in the SU project but also for mem­bers that can­not afford to take more weeks in a row off can still apply for SSCs. We are look­ing for­ward to the role this new for­mat will have in the SU project.

GT: When will the anten­nae receive the PR mate­r­i­al?

SUCT: Every­body will be able to choose from the new diver­si­fied mate­ri­als through dif­fer­ent means of dis­tri­b­u­tion. Locals will receive them right in the time when they need to start pro­mo­tion. We don’t want to give too much infor­ma­tion at this point, but all locals and mem­bers can be def­i­nite­ly excit­ed about this.

Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty in FIren­ze 2018

GT: Will you change the SU web­site — and yes in what way?

SUCT: Giv­en the new data pri­va­cy EU reg­u­la­tions, we will change the user authen­ti­ca­tion and autho­riza­tion through the new OMS sys­tem instead of the for­mer Intranet one based on LDAP. The web­site was under­go­ing back­end changes in the pre­vi­ous term, which we will hope to con­clude in this term. Fron­tend improve­ments will com­mence as the back­end final­izes to reduce errors and unnec­es­sary redun­dan­cies. As for how the web­site looks and feels, we will try to keep it con­sis­tent with the pre­vi­ous years and avoid con­fus­ing peo­ple unnec­es­sary.

GT: The suc­cess of the SU project depends also on the local pro­mo­tion. Often anten­nae pro­mote the cours­es as hol­i­days, despite the fact that stu­dents have more oppor­tu­ni­ties than ever to trav­el cheap­ly. How can the locals improve the pro­mo­tion of SUs?

SUCT: Indeed, locals lack the capa­bil­i­ties to inform their mem­bers prop­er­ly about the iden­ti­ty of the Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Project. Espe­cial­ly Out­go­ing Respon­si­bles are the ones in charge of inform­ing espe­cial­ly new mem­bers about the SU project. The role of Out­go­ing Respon­si­ble is high­ly under­es­ti­mat­ed. As also Chris­t­ian promised in his pro­gramme and can­di­da­ture, we will focus on prepar­ing them in a right and accu­rate way by offer­ing Skype meet­ings with them — which are high­ly rec­om­mend­ed to attend — and cre­ate oth­er mate­ri­als that they can fol­low. But it is not only the Out­go­ing Respon­si­ble; the whole local is respon­si­ble to show that a Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty is not only a hol­i­day but focus­es about more like for exam­ple self-devel­op­ment, con­tent­ful pro­gramme and edu­ca­tion.

The Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty Coor­di­na­tion Team and their CD sup­port­ers. From left to right: Mar­co Daniele (CD), Akshat Jangam, Anas­tasi­ia Sheremet, Chris­t­ian Seul­ing, Mar­i­jana Asprovs­ka (all SUCT) and Matis Joab (CD).

GT: For your team the hard work is start­ing now. How is the coop­er­a­tion in your team, how do you like the tasks in the SUCT?

SUCT: In fact the hard work has already begun. We fin­ished our live meet­ing in the CD house recent­ly. Exhaust­ed after work­ing more than 12 hours per day dur­ing the meet­ing, but still with a smile on our faces, we absolute­ly love prepar­ing the net­work for the biggest project of AEGEE! And the coop­er­a­tion in the team? We couldn’t wish for bet­ter cohe­sion among us. We often joke that we already feel like a fam­i­ly shar­ing all the joy, stress, work and fun, it feels like we have known each oth­er for years and not just a cou­ple of months.