Guiding Foreign Students in Practical Placement – Sharing Ideas and Good Practices

Monthly Archives: March 2014

What is the value of our work?

We aim to help our teachers and mentors encourage you (the students) to take an active role in developing yourselves as professionals, domestically and internationally. Different countries offer students different perspectives and approaches in their field of study and allow for creativity in one’s academic and professional work by combining knowledge into something completely new to bring back home or to your place of work for the benefit of everyone around you.

To that extent we decided to talk to teachers, mentors and students and found a discrepancy in teacher and mentor multicultural competencies as well as underlying processes and infrastructure in higher education institutions as well as practical placement institutions in different countries. This, of course, directly impacts the students learning experience at university and when doing practical placement; the way teachers and mentors relate to students is key to providing a safe and encouraging learning environment to ensure best learning outcomes for future professionals.

We aim to improve competencies of teachers and mentors to help students along so they spend less effort and time and still have a great time studying and learning new skills for their profession.

This leaves more time for travelling around and hiking a mountain peak, soaking in a different culture, sightseeing historical monuments and having a taste of the local cuisine.  This also encourages students to learn how to cope and deal with cultures different from their own, a very practical skill for later in the professional career. Putting it all on a scale, it’s a win-win situation.


Centre for education “Goljak”, Croatia

logo goljak

Centre for education “Goljak” is the 10th member of the Soulbus consortium. It is a primary school that started operation in 1946./47. for students with disabilities, victims of WWII. Today we enrol students with central (cerebral palsy) and peripheral nervous systems (spina bifida) and neuromuscular diseases. Along with providing education to students we also provide support to teachers in primary schools teaching children/youth with disabilities. We aim to provide students competencies for lifelong learning by using aides and ICT, learn compensation strategies to ensure independence, peaceful resolution of conflict, positive attitudes and building self-esteem. We also train trainees, graduates of the Faculty for Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, to work with children/youth with disabilities in their preparation for independent work.

Read in more detail in their institution description by clicking the following link:  P10_CEG_Institution info

Harjula Settlement Association, Finland

Harjula Settlement Association

Harjula Settlement Association is our 8th partner (P8). They are located in Lahti, Finland and closely work together with LUAS. It’s an open college offering various study programmes and hobbies for the locals. HSA also provide welfare services for a very diverse beneficiary base: a day-care centre for approximately a 100 kids; home care, rehabilitation and nursing services for the elderly choosing to live independently at home and in-house physiotherapy and rehabilitation to those coming to the Centre on a daily basis. HSA is also the place where they get to have fun with a good dance and some song while HSA catering services have established themselves in delivering good food for their elderly clients as well as business companies and private people. It is their placement programme that makes them a valuable asset as students and trainees get to experience the benefits of working in the community for the community.

Read in more detail in their institution description by clicking the following link: P8_HARJULA_Institution info


Faculty for Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, Croatia


Faculty for Education and Rehabilitation Sciences is a member of the University of Zagreb and 9th member of the Soulbus consortium. It trains and educates future professionals who will be contributing their knowledge and skills in working with persons with disabilities, persons with speech impediments and persons who have challenging behaviour. These professionals contribute to raising the quality of life for them. The faculty is involved in student exchanges through the Erasmus programme, bilateral agreements, CEEPUS and Erasmus Mundus. The number of exchange students is low when compared to senior partners as FERS is fully participating in Erasmus programme since 2011. However, incoming students enjoy the benefit of teacher’s full attention as lectures for foreign students are held on a one-to-one basis with assignments, literature reviews and other tasks. Since FERS is a junior partner in Erasmus, no practical placements were made as yet; however, it is expected this project will assist in establishing quality practical placement for international exchange students. FERS has been delegated to serve as the dissemination and communication’s representative for the project.

Read in more detail in their institution description by clicking the following link: P9_FERS_Institution info

Tartu Health Care College, Estonia


Tartu Health Care College is our 11th partner and started as a midwifery school founded at the beginning of the 19th century. Today it boasts the reputation of being a leading health care education provided in Estonia. Today education and training is extended into the fields of nursing, radiography, bio-medical science, physiotherapy and environmental health. Furthermore, vocational training is offered for care worker, emergency medical technical and babysitter. Along with the Croatia FERS, THCC participates in Erasmus programme. Since taking part in 2004./05. foreign students have had the benefit of doing practical training in THCC while the college sent 134 students out to foreign exchange. THCC reports most of their students use the programme for doing practical training and the experience they bring to the table will provide useful suggestions to make Soulbus beneficial to all of us.

Read in more detail in their institution description by clicking the following link: P11_THCC_institution_info

Tartu University Hospital, Estonia


Tartu University Hospital (TUH) is the 12th partner of the Soulbus project and a leading academic medical centre for the past 2 centuries. It is also the largest provider of medical care in Estonia and the leading authority in kidney, bone marrow and liver transplants as well as congenital heart disease surgery. It consists of more than a dozen clinics with almost a thousand beds. Almost 2650 staff are medically trained (doctors, nurses and assistant nurses) and serve to provide inpatient, outpatient and community-based services ensuring a continuous development of medicine through high-level integrated medical treatment, training and research. The hospital serves the medical faculty of Tartu University as well as those of the Tartu Health Care College and provides for 360 THCC students having their practical placement in the hospital. Each year sees an increase in the number of foreign students in practical placement since THCC participates in different international mobility programmes. This experience will provide guidance towards making Soulbus effective.

Read in more detail in their institution description by clicking the following link: P12_TUH_Institution info


Lahti University of Applied Sciences


Lahti University of Applied Sciences (Lahti UAS) is known as the 7th parnter in the Soulbus project. The university is located in the south of Finland with approximately 3500 students attending the various degree programmes such as business, design and communication, fine arts, social and healthcare, music and drama, technology and engineering as well as tourism and hospitality. Lahti has highly qualified staff and teachers with a diverse educational field along with strong regional and international networks counting over 190 agreements pertaining to student and staff international mobility. Along with 350 international and 150 exchange students and exchange teachers, this represents a truly diverse international environment and experience they are bringing to the project.  

Read in more detail in their institution description by clicking the following link: P7_LUAS_Institution info

How are we getting there?

To accomplish the vision of Soulbus, we’ve decided to network. A network is made up of suppliers, producers, regulators and distributors who bring the benefits to you. We’ve paired up a university (HEI) and a practical placement institution (WLP) and divided the roles between us to more effectively exchange communications and contribute skills, knowledge and experiences (suppliers) to designated WP teams (producers) who manage the project (WP1), prepare and analyse case studies (WP2), design and pilot multicultural programme (WP3), assure quality standards are met (WP4; regulators) while effectively communicating and disseminating (WP5&P6; distributors) Soulbus benefits to our clients- teachers, mentors and finally students. Take a look below to get an idea of our network: universities are shown as HEI’s, practical placement institutions as WLP’s and mentors, teachers and students in these institutions with their respective starting letters (MTS’s).


We’ve decided to base Soulbus on an iterative development cycle which means we will be repeating a loop and with every turn use what we learnt earlier to your advantage .


First, we will begin by analysing and understanding the current situation in our respective countries. Our understanding of the current situation will be summarized by a case study method into a series of papers detailing multicultural competencies by country. The details will be divulged by teachers, mentors and students. We appreciate the help of our USA partners who will use their expertise to help us prepare instruments for data collection. The papers will be compounded into  a case repository. The case repository will be used as basis to design a Multicultural coaching programme for teachers in Universities and mentors in practical placement institutions. The coaching programme will further provide guidance for E-learning module design.

E-learning is practical; unlike lectures, it is available anywhere at any time of day. It can also serve for a brush up in multicultural competencies when lectures or workshops are not available. Our USA partners will provide expert guidance all the way and we’ve decided to split it into a common and tailored module. The common module is analysed through feedback and alterations will be considered to fit the needs of particular target groups. The tailored module is designed based on the common module and conducted at national level. Feedback and experiences are collected and analysed; these are shared with the whole project team to help fine tune the programmes. Quality checks are constantly conducted to ensure quality assurance of the project and it’s results.

All of this will result in the junior partners (Estonia, Croatia and Slovenia) offering more placements for foreign exchange students while senior partners (Netherlands and Finland) will offer more placements for foreign degrees students as part of the HEI’s regular curriculum development. Lectures will be more enjoyable and informative for foreign students as they come into a culturally sensitized environment that will contribute to a successful and enjoyable academic career. Project partners will continue to exchange information and ideas long after the project has officially ended.



Faculty of Health Care Jesenice

Faculty of Health Care Jesenice is also known as the 3rd partner in the Soulbus project. The college is located in Jesenice, Slovenia. It offers a bachelor and master degree in Nursing. At the moment 345 students are attending the bachelor’s level while 13 students are attending the master’s degree level. CNJ (College of Nursing Jesenice) is well known for it’s research activities in Slovenia and the EU which is why they are contributing to this project through their expertise in preparation and case analysis part of the project. Furthermore, they also have activities in development, international cooperation and educational activities  through the Centre for Life-Long Learning, Career Counselling, Tutoring and Mentoring. At the moment the CNJ holds 15 Erasmus agreements in the EU and the USA, participating in international development and research projects. It holds the ISO 9001 standard in Quality in Education. Click the picture (link) above to visit their homepage.

Read in more detail in their institution description by clicking the following link: P3_FHCJ_Institution info

What is Soulbus?


Soulbus is the answer to the current and future challenges of multiculturalism. People migrate from country to country for many reasons: seeking new educational or professional challenges, marrying into another country or simply looking for a temporary change of scenery. Some countries advertise a labour shortage of a particular profession and offer enticing incentives to migrants to fill these gaps and help the economy move on. In most cases, in order to sustain themselves these migrants seek employment.

Experiences faced by these migrants, professional and otherwise, do not reflect solely on the difference between culture in the host and home country but also on gap between the professional and educational standards of the two countries. In many cases, after degree’s have been evaluated for recognition, migrants are encouraged to take differential courses to match the qualifications of the host country so they may work. The EU is dealing with this issue through the Bologna process by making university curricula comparable.

Soulbus takes this agenda one step further and brings together a consortium of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Working Life Partners (WLPs) from seven different countries to identify and address issues in degree programmes and the compulsory practical placements that may interfere with international students getting the best out the degree programmes they are enrolled into due to a culture gap between them and the host country. In history we learn that culture is represented by artifacts around us left by civilizations; it is also represented today all around us by intangibles such as language, customs, beliefs and behaviours. Misinterpretations in all these mentioned above may lead to misunderstandings, tensions or even altercations  which represent challenges when trying to integrate into another culture.

Soulbus will address these between the partners and find a formula to effectively manage these issues for the benefit of teachers teaching at Universities, mentors training students in practical placements, students already studying who are in classes with foreigners as well as foreign students dedicating their time and effort to study in another country to obtain a degree. The expected results are more effective learning in a culturally aware environment and better professionals coming out from universities to the labour market; contributing effectively to the economy. The European Commission understands the importance of this project and provides funding through European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme.

At the moment Soulbus focuses on the fields of education, rehabilitation and social & health care, it is a stepping stone for having an answer to issues in other professional fields such as economics, architecture, art, music, law and so on. So, hop on! Next stop – Multicultural awareness and competencies for everyone!