Department of Comparative Politics

Opportunity at the UiB Brussels Office

The Department of Comparative Politics has a new collaboration in Brussels. BA students in Comparative Politics and European Studies are encouraged to apply for a semester at the UiB Brussels Office.

Kristof Vlaeminck
Kristof Vlaeminck is excited to welcome a student to the UiB Brussels Office for the autumn semester 2017.

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The internship is organized through SAMPOL291: Comparative Politics Internship - abroad.

Principal Officer Kristof Vlaeminck elaborates on the opportunity.

Why is UiB in Brussels?
The Norwegian research landscape has always been considered as one of high quality, and the researchers in Norway are regarded as reliable and good partners to team up with. Although all the conditions to become active actors at the European research level are present, figures show that this is not the case and many potential Norwegian participants to European funding schemes do not find their way to Horizon 2020, Erasmus+ and other interesting initiatives.

This trend is not any different for the University of Bergen and the UiB believes it is missing out on many good opportunities. For that, the university has decided to open an office in Brussels with the aim of raising awareness towards the initiatives at European level and helping the researchers to understand them. We also want to keep our researchers better in the information loop since information goes directly from Brussels to Bergen, as good as possible tailor-made on each researcher. An office in Brussels also gives the UiB visibility, which plays a role when our researchers have to look for the best collaborations.

What does a normal week at the office look like?
A ‘normal week’ does not really exist and that contributes to the charm of working at the office. There is a large variety of tasks to be performed and every activity comes with different requirements. One important task that is always present is helping the researchers of the UiB with understanding the processes behind Horizon 2020, so that they can use this knowledge once they want to write a project proposal and position themselves strategically at the European stage. It would be unfair to expect that the intern will do this work as well, but I will involve her/him so that they learn this as well. I hope that this knowledge will serve her/him during the study and even maybe at later stages of her/his career.

Towards the fall, the new framework programme for research and innovation of the European Union, the follow-up of Horizon 2020, will start to take shape. Norway is an associated member for this funding scheme, meaning that Norwegian partners can apply to the programme as well. It is the task of the office to keep track of that, report back to UiB researchers and, where needed, defend the interests of our university. We will never do that alone of course and that is why the UiB Brussels office is member of an informal group of university liaison offices. The intern will play an active role for this membership.

Further, there are already two events planned for the fall: one big event on migration, for which the UiB Brussels Office has to invite speakers and participants, and a visit from the Psychology Department. No need to say that also for this I count on the intern to get involved.

What is the most exciting part about working at the UiB Brussels Office?
Without any doubt, the variety. In addition, the European scene is a very exciting arena to be part of. It is quite obviously very international and, on top of that, there are many young, talented and ambitious people attracted by this arena.

What about the most challenging part?
I think the most difficult part will be the fact that having an internship at the UiB Brussels Office is something entirely new. Therefore, it will be a learning process, also for me. Many other institutes have successfully integrated interns in their daily work, but interested students have to realise that a certain grade of pro-activeness and independency is required. I mentioned “the European arena” before, and the choice of wording is not by coincidence. It is an arena with many people competing to be heard and many different opinions. It is possible things not always go the way you want, and feeling frustrated is an emotion I cannot exclude when working as an intern in Brussels. 

What will a student intern do at the Brussels office?
The student will have to help with the organisation of events and meetings. I also plan to involve passively the person in the strategic thinking of the university. I am pretty sure the student will start understanding most of the aspects after a certain time, and it would be nice to discuss strategic aspects after a certain time. I also would like to give enough room so that the student can work on a personal project in the frame of her/his study. The goal is that they have to create their own network in Brussels and use it. How this concretely will look like has to be discussed, but the student can for example look into how Norwegian stakeholders try to influence the next framework programme, although Norway is not a member state of the European Union.

Why should students apply for the position?
The UiB has put a lot of effort in creating the Brussels Office and the university’s leadership is very supportive towards the office. So the intern will be part of a small entity of the university, but one that has impact and can contribute to the success of our researchers although sometimes difficult to quantify. On top of that, the student will be part of a very international environment in which they will develop non-academical skills that are very important for the rest of her/his career