It is AEGEE’s oldest ongoing project – and for many also its greatest one: the Summer University. This year 82 courses will take part, offering several thousand members fantastic memories for lifetime and putting the dream of a united and more tolerant Europe in practice. Several thousand new students will join AEGEE this year because of the Summer Universities – a new generation of members will take their first steps on amazing courses between Tenerife in the West and Samara in the East. People, who will soon run AEGEE and shape the future of the association. The Golden Times asked Francesca Russo, SUCT Project Manager, about this year’s edition of AEGEE’s most important project.

Francesca Russo
Francesca Russo, SU Project Manager and President of AEGEE-Padova

Golden Times: Francesca, how many Summer Universities will there be in 2014?
Francesca Russo: There are 82 SUs.

Golden Times: Is that more or less than last year?
Francesca: It’s in the average. Anyway, it’s more than last year when there were 78 SUs.

Golden Times: How many locals will be involved in organising an SU?
Francesca: 117 out of 184 locals – contacts are not consider locals. This means that 64% of all locals are organising an SU in 2014.

Golden Times: There was a trend to more TSUs in the past years. Is it still continuing? Are there other interesting trends?
Francesca: There are still many TSU. The trend is that the ratio is slightly increasing: 42% in 2013 and 44% in 2014. Then there are less language courses and SC+ than in the past years, but we have more trainings and also more cooperations with the EWG and Green SUs in general.

SU map 2014-2
The locations of this year’s SUs

Golden Times: How many TSUs will there be in total this year?
Francesca: There are 36 TSU. Eight of them are organized by only one antenna, not in cooperation with others.

Golden Times: In the past years there were hardly any language courses. How many language courses will there be in 2014?
Francesca: There is not anymore the distinction of LC as an own category, but we can see from the thematic categories that there are only four language courses.

Golden Times: Of course you cannot give recommendations for certain SUs. But which ones will be among the most popular ones, in your opinion?
Francesca: The Transsiberian TSU. I think will be popular as it has always been. Moreover Agrigento-Valletta, Cagliari-Napoli and Coruna I think will be highly requested for their particular route. I am curious about Santander: it has a new concept of SU and it is the cheapest SU I have ever seen. Anyway, there are so many cool SUs, that it is really hard to say which one will be the most popular!

SUCT without Gerardo
Andrea Nostro, Anna Pykhtina and Francesca Russo, members of the Summer University Coordination Team. Unfortunately missing in this photo: Gerardo Garcia Diaz.

Golden Times: A huge problem in the past years was the fact that most people only make one SU choice instead of three, which dimishes their chance to be selected. Last year 61 percent of all applicants acted so. One of the reasons was that in the application form you can write a motivation only for one choice. Will you do something about that?
Francesca: You can use this application field for writing motivations for all the three choices, but the pre-selection will automatically choose the best for you according to your personal data. The pre-selection is done by an algorithm. It’s a pretty delicate issue to change it. I don’t think we will manage to find a new algorithm in time.

Golden Times: Last year there was not a printed SU booklet for the first time, but a big poster with the main facts. What about this year?
There will be a Use-It map like last year, cheaper and more useful to promote SUs. This year it will be printed on recyclable paper. If someone needs the booklet, there will be a printable version.

Last year, all courses were presented on one poster map. This year it will be done like this, too. The design is still a secret.

Golden Times: So it will be like last year, when the SUCT made a downloadable PDF booklet which contains all course descriptions?
Francesca: Yes, there will be a printable booklet. It will be without images, but with all the information. This makes it easier to print for locals.

Golden Times: There will be a new SU website this year. What will change and when will it be online?
Francesca: The core of the website will be the same, it will improve the surfing experience – it will be faster and more dynamic. Also, there will be new functions: back up intelligence,filter motivation, jquery validation. And the graphics will be according to the new Visual Identity. Moreover it will have a responsive structure – adaptable for tablets and mobile phones – and a simple administration panel to manage each SU. You will see at the official launch on the 1st of March!

2014 SU description key
The descriptions on this year’s poster map will be improved.

Golden Times: How is working with your SUCT colleagues?
Francesca: Amazing! Everyone is passionate and committed to do his or her tasks. Each one is answering fast and working hard for the success of the SU project 2014.

Golden Times: A few words about you: where are you from, how old are you, what do you study?
Francesca: I’m a joyful and still young Italian girl of 26. I’m doing a master in Statistics in Padova, where my local antenna is. Anyway, my home town is another. It’s northern, not so far away from there, but closer to Treviso, my AEGEE Mum-local. I did my first year in the association there, then I moved to AEGEE-Padova, because I had a room there so it was easier to follow. Now I’m a proud member of AEGEE-Padova, even if I am not living there anymore.

SU Cag-Nap
One of the many highlights of this year: the TSU of AEGEE-Cagliari and AEGEE-Napoli

Golden Times: How did you join AEGEE?
Francesca: I joined AEGEE in 2006 for a Summer University: “Double Dutch” from AEGEE- Leuven. I was looking for something to do after my high-school diploma and I stumbled upon an article about SU. That’s how the story started.

Golden Times: What was your favourite event so far? An SU?
Francesca: I began my AEGEE experience with an SU, but my favourite events are trainings and the EBM. So if I have to choose, I’ll vote for EBM Valletta. There I really felt that YOUth have the power to change things and I found many super active members. Anyway, I did several events in AEGEE and It is always hard to choose among them. If you ask me again maybe I’ll speak about another event. They are all special for something.

Golden Times: Last year several SUCT members made a network tour and visited as many SUs as possible. Are you planning that, too?
Francesca: We would like to check SUs as well, but we’ll see what will be in a few months.

Golden Times: Anything you’d like to add?
Francesca (smiles): I’m happy to have taken the chance to be part of SUCT. Summer Season 2014 will be awesome! Be ready! And apply for the SUPS until the 5th of February!