Holger Neuwirth
A dynamic and challenging task for universities
Austria's participation in the ERASMUS programme since 1992 may have meant that universities have had to take new responsibilities, but is has also given them new opportunities. 1999 marks nine years of ERASMUS and the beginning of the SOCRATES II programme; having gathered a variety of experience in several different functions, I am in a position to draw up the following balance of accounts.

How it all began
As Austria was due to join the ERASMUS programme in the academic year 1992/1993, I was invited to present the Technical University Graz at a network meeting at Hannover University. This led to our participation in an established network of European Architectural Colleges which was coordinated by Martin Andersch at the Ecole d' Architecture de Languedoc-Roussillon in Montpellier and included 32 institutions from all over Europe.
In 1993 we joined a network coordinated by the University of Bath comprising 14 participating universities. From one moment to the next, we were able to take up contact with all of the countries in Europe. An essential precondition for succesfull entry in these established networks was the absolute and unreserved support and backing of our own Department for International Academic Relations, created in 1990 as part of the central administration.
In the first year, student mobility at the Faculty of Architecture was limited to outgoing exchanges; there were as yet no incoming students for the department to welcome. The first incoming students arrived in the second year, partly thanks to the outgoing students of the first year, who had performed their role as "ambassadors" brilliantly alongside their studies and had introduced partner universities to their home university.
As well as student mobility, Montpellier proposed an intensive programme with a workshop and design seminar to be held annually at one of the network institutions in conjunction with a coordinator's meeting.
Active participation in network meetings over the following years led to a continual increase in student mobility. The results of the seminar were evaluated and discussed at the coordinator's annual meetings. This also gave all the participants the opportunity to get to know the various teaching models and special features of the partner institutions and to take these into consideration when organising student exchanges. The figures speak for themselves: the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University Graz achieved a mobility rate of 46 incoming and 40 outgoing students in the academic year 1998/1999.

Gaining Experience
My participation in coordinators' meetings and intensive programmes (at Hannover University in 1991, the South Bank University, London in 1992, the "Institut Superieur d'Architecture de I'Etat-La Cambre" in Brussels in 1993 and at the "Universita degli Studi di Bari" in 1994) enabled me to gain the necessary experience to organise an intensive programme and coordinators' meeting in Graz in 1995.
In 1996, we were joined by Lyon and the cooperation of the "Ecole d'Architecture de St. Etienne" in 1997, the network's last intensive programme and coordinators' meeting was held in Montpellier; as guest professor, I was present as a coorganiser.
It was decided at this coordinators' meeting that the intensive programmes would continue to be organised annually by the participating colleagues, which would finance them with their own means. This decision grew out of our conviction that the intensive programme did not only offer participating students a valuable addition to their studies, but was also the source of a wide range of international experiences for the participating university teachers. The 1998 meeting was organised by Malmö and the University of Lund. The coordinators' meeting provided a crucial foundation for the continuing expansion and consolidation of relations between the universities.

Teaching in an European dimension
Teaching staff mobility and direct inclusion in the existing curriculum was begun in the academic year 1997/1998, the year in which the network became part of an institutional contact. I was involved in teaching design and monument maintenance at the "Ecoles d'Architecture in Montpellier and Paris - Belleville (in French) and at the University of Lund (in English). Colleagues from these partner institutions were integrated into my teaching activities in Graz.
A t the "Conference on Architectural Education in Europe" in June 1996 in Mantova, in which numerous coordinators took part, the various national teaching systems were discussed. Fundamental principles were elaborated by each working group of national representatives and published in "The National Systems of Higher Architectural Education in Europe" (1997, Edizione Unicopli, Milan). As all architecture schools in Europe face a teaching reform in which the main issues almost everywhere will be the number of students, the length of studies, the image of an architectural qualification and the high level of unemployment in the architectural profession, these things have begun to play a part in teaching staff mobility programmes. Colleagues from Sweden and France who have visited Graz Technical University have spoken to the curricular committee as well as joining in our teaching activities, and have made valuable contributions to the discussion on curricular reforms which will have to take place according to the new University Studies Act.

ECTS at the Technical University Graz
One of the very positive aspects of Graz Technical University's international policy has been the introduction of the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) for all faculties following the conclusion of the pilot project phase in Mechanical Engineering. The official recognition of students' achievements can be carried out without any problems and Graz Technical University has been able to play a leading role in this as regards its partner institutions.
When ERASMUS students work on their diploma thesis at partner institutions, the supervising teachers are invited to Graz as examiners at diploma examination, This involves mobility beyond the terms of the institutional contract, and gives our foreign colleagues the opportunity to spend a short time gaining an insight into the internal affairs of Graz Technical University. An European dimension is brought to the topics examined in the diploma thesis as well as to the examination itself, As a member of examining boards in Paris and Strasbourg, I was able. to draw comparisons with Graz and to familiarise myself with different examining systems.

Vital Impulses
Our many years of intensive cooperation mean that friendships have developed as well as official contacts, enabling us to put our activities into practice in an unbureaucratic and efficient way. The bilateral contacts within the institutional contract form the basis for necessary annual evaluation exercises. The success of planned activities can be examined in practice together with the individual partner university. The bilateral contracts which we have signed with Prague, Budapest and Maribor are the continuation of an as yet invisible network and further contracts are currently being prepared.
The European Union's programmes give vital impulses, but ideas are put into practice partly by the heads of each participating institution and mainly by the work of a few committed individuals. Selfsatisfaction and laziness are the greatest obstacles in the way of the construction of the necessary broader basis for further development in established university exchange relationships once the pioneer phase is over.