The student initiative BEST Erlangen was set up at FAU three years ago. BEST stands for the Board of European Students of Technology, and the organisation is aimed at students of engineering and sciences. Patrick Hoffmann is one of the founding members and chairperson of the local FAU group. We interviewed the energy technology student to find out why he is involved in BEST.
What does BEST aim to achieve?
We want to promote an exchange between students from across Europe. BEST is a network of 96 groups from all over Europe. All FAU students can take part in the events that we or other groups organise. They meet students from different countries and can benefit from their similarities and differences, and grow as a consequence.
You are one of the founding members of the BEST group at FAU. What led to the group being set up three years ago?
We heard about BEST indirectly and went on a course. Back home in Erlangen we felt that the international perspective at the Faculty of Engineering could do with more attention, so three or four of us tried setting up a group in Erlangen. We now have around 20 active members and last year we were officially recognised by the umbrella organisation BEST International. This means that we can now send FAU students on courses run by other BEST groups and are eligible to vote in BEST’s bi-annual general meetings. We were the first group in Germany to be officially recognised by BEST International.
What types of courses do the BEST groups organise?
One example is the BEST seasonal courses. These are one to two-week courses that usually focus on a topic related to technology. The local groups organise the courses in their cities with lectures and a programme of events. They also take care of accommodation and catering. Participants only have to cover their travel costs and pay a small fee; the local BEST group covers the costs of everything during the course. All students of the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Sciences at FAU can apply for these courses. Last year we sent around 30 students on courses.
Are there courses in Erlangen too?
Last year the Erlangen group organised the first BEST seasonal course in Germany in the organisation’s history. This year there will be a course at the end of May. 24 students from 14 nations will come for the course, which focuses on the topic of e-mobility. On the last day there is a kind of exam or competition. This gives the students the opportunity to gain ECTS credits, depending on the regulations at their home university. We finance the course through partners and with funding from the Central Committee for the Allocation of Tuition Fee Compensation.
In addition to the courses we also organise internal events. For example, the ‘Clash of Cultures’ event takes place in Erlangen at the beginning of May. Ten students from Moscow and ten from Ankara come here for this event. We want to hold discussions with one another and hear presentations. In return, ten students will travel to Ankara and to Moscow in June and October.
Besides the cultural exchange, are there any other good reasons to get involved with BEST?
Yes – you have the chance to take part in training events all over Europe. For example, you can take a course to become a soft skills trainer and then provide training for other students in different areas such as project management, time management or team building.
You’re always looking for new students who want to get involved, aren’t you?
We do need new students. We will have a new generation taking over soon as many of our members who have been part of the group since the beginning are graduating and moving on. If we have more members we can run more events. Our members can commit as much of their time to the group as they want. Some are active in the month between exams and holidays, for example, while others spend several weeks of the year at events in different countries and are involved in BEST International’s committees. They help out in areas such as marketing, IT or fund-raising.
What about the other student initiatives?
We present various student initiatives in a series of regular articles. You can find previous articles from the series in the blog under the key word student initiatives.
A list of some of FAU’s student initiatives is available on the Students’ Representatives website.