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Network to support new staff

A good support network can be a decisive factor when it comes to choosing a university to work at. LiU has long had an informal network for supporting new international employees, which has now been formalised.

Jessica Gidby has worked for several years with supporting international employees at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, a department where many staff members are from abroad.
“We work with these issues in different parts of the organisation, but it’s done differently in the various departments, and there is no overall picture of what and how much is done.”

Bild: Jessica Gidby, ansvarig för nätverket och Karin Gibson. According to LiU’s internationalisation plan for 2013 to 2020, the university must increase the number of international employees. These are individuals with the whole world as their labour market. Giving them and their accompanying family a good reception is important to the recruitment and retention of staff. Consequently, it makes sense to formalise how this reception is implemented. Hence the decision to establish the Network for International Staff Support. It will include representatives from every department, as well as the International Office and Human Resources.

“The idea is that the network will increase and improve how the reception is coordinated,” says Jessica Gidby, manager and convener of the network. “We’re starting by finding out what type of support the new employees require. Some matters are specific to the department, but a great deal are general, and are best handled centrally, and many departments have expressed that they want it done this way.”
The best example of an issue that is common to all departments is housing. Others include immigration, workplace introduction, accompanying family, child care and schooling.
“We want to create common systems, checklists, forms or whatever people might need,” says Jessica Gidby.

The International Office has previously worked with matters relating to the reception of international staff, but this concerned strategically recruited individuals.
“Now we want to broaden the approach, to work with doctoral students and upwards. New staff from abroad don’t have a network, and aren’t familiar with how things work in Sweden. They need help. Lots of universities, in Sweden and worldwide, work this way – and we have to as well,” says Karin Gibson.

Jessica Gidby’s job now is to gather the network, prioritise amongst the issues, develop joint procedures and find a shared approach.
“In the long term it will save time. Some departments have few, or seldom, international staff members. And things you do infrequently take more time.”
Karin Gibson: Today we don’t know how many employees we are dealing with. There are no systems for this. In Primula, you only see those who receive a salary from LiU. But there are others, for instance people who come here on grants.”

Can a good reception be a decisive factor, when choosing a university?
“Absolutely. We’ve seen this at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, when accompanying partners don’t get employment. Then we get problems. Of course, most important is the content of the job. But these people haven’t just sent out one application. If the job content is the same at both places, the reception can be the clincher,” says Jessica Gidby.
“And the word spreads, one person tells another. Talented researchers generate talented students. So this will be fairly inexpensive marketing,” says Karin Gibson.


Decision (in Swedish): Beslut: Inrättande av nätverk för stöd till internationella medarbetare (pdf)


Elisabet Wahrby 2018-08-09

Page manager: elisabet.wahrby@liu.se
Last updated: 2018-08-13