My Erasmus+ Work Placement
My name is Agnes Sarolta Fazekas. Currently I am a Social Policy Ph.D Fellow at the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Eötvös Loránd Science University, in Budapest, Hungary. I completed my Erasmus+ Placement at AHEAD - Association for Higher Education Access and Disability in Dublin, Ireland.
My Erasmus+ Placement experience
As a Ph.D fellow I was delighted to be one of the new Erasmus+ Generation. My research field is access and inclusion for students with disabilities in Higher Education. My aim is to investigate the challenges and opportunities for people with disabilities within the Hungarian Higher Education atmosphere. This is an ongoing process in Hungary and the work placement with AHEAD was an excellent a unique opportunity to broaden my horizon, gain international experiences and explore different approaches about inclusive higher education.
I started my placement with an overview of the Irish higher education and disability policy framework and experienced through the daily activities of AHEAD’s how a non-governmental organisation plays an important role and influences policy process of Irish higher education. AHEAD works with various stakeholders in the education and employment sector on a daily basis. From this I was able to explore on how policy is put into practice and the needs of the students are accommodated to transition into and accessing higher education.
Lorraine and me at Better Options 2014 in the National College of Ireland
I have been working with the GetAHEAD project which works to up-skill students and graduates with disabilities in order to prepare for their career and the workplace and helps the transition process from third-level education to full time employment. I worked on all stages of the GetAHEAD poster campaign which aimed to make students with disabilities aware about GetAHEAD and the services that they offer. You can view the poster here!
I was also involved in the WAM Programme - Willing Able Mentoring Programme which is a mentored, paid work placement programme for graduates with disabilities where participating employers (WAM Leaders) collaborate with WAM. It aims to promote access to the labour market for graduates with disabilities and build the capacity of employers to integrate disability into the mainstream workplace. I learned about all stages of the WAM process, from the recruitment to observing a needs assessment for a graduate who would be commencing a WAM work placement. I also participated at WAM events as a guest speaker, where various employers, higher education professionals, students with disabilities discussed the enablers and barriers of access and inclusion in certain fields of study and the transition to employment for these types of graduates.
AHEAD is recognised as a centre of expertise not only nationally but also internationally in Higher Education and Disability. During the placement I had the opportunity to participate in several international events and contributed to AHEAD’s international presence. These opportunities were essential to investigate key concepts and debates in Higher Education and Disability across Europe.
Benefits of the Erasmus+ Placement
My involvement in the different projects of AHEAD was suitable to my area of study and essential to further develop my research. I gained not only the theoretical knowledge, but practical experience in higher education, the workplace and disability. Plus I have improved my English language skills, in a specific academic field (disability and higher education policy) in such a high degree which cannot be realised in other way and my intercultural English communication skills. Last but not least, standing on my own two feet abroad developed my personality and it showed me that I can and was able to meet the requirements of my placement.
Thanks to the AHEAD and to my home university, Faculty of Social Sciences of Eötvös Loránd University for cooperating under the Erasmus+ Mobility for Placement.
Me (pictured in the middle) with WAM & GetAHEAD Staff on my last day at AHEAD
Erasmus+ is the new European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020 which joins several existing EU programmes, covering all sectors of education. Erasmus+ Mobility for Placements in Higher Education aims to boost skills and employability, and enables students to study and/or train abroad for up to 12 months within each study cycle including Bachelor, Master or Doctorate Programmes. The placement period promotes cooperation between higher education institutions and enterprises/organisations and contributes to the development of a pool of well-qualified, open-minded and internationally experienced young people as future professionals.
First published on 27th February 2015.
Agnes Sarolta Fazekas is from Budapest, Hungary. She is currently a Social Policy Ph.D Fellow at the Faculty of the Social Sciences, Eötvös Loránd Science University, in Budapest, Hungary and her research area is access and inclusion of students with disabilities in Higher Education.