The History of NETT – by Peter Dines
I came to the first meeting in 2001 so I do not know much about the two original configurations. My Understanding is that the original core of the group was the ERASMUS IP of PH Freiburg and Complutense Madrid. Soledad Guardia González was particularly prominent in staring up the group and played an important role during all the time that she was a member. It was a way of keeping the network after the ERASMUS system was reformed in 1997 by being centralised at the international or ERASMUS offices, rather than with the academic staff, who had initiated the IPs.
We began as an informal group wishing to facilitate student and teacher exchange, so much of the meetings consisted of exchanging bi-lateral agreements and presenting our universities. I think many of us at that time were mainly interested in establishing contacts with other teacher training institutions and faculties and broadening the range of our international exchange programmes. I know my own idea was to try to get at least one partner in each ERASMUS country. I was extremely grateful to have this opportunity. So in Ludwigsburg we gained contact with Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Lithuania, Ireland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, Latvia, Estonia, which we didn’t have before. I’m sure that this has been the experience of many of the NETT participants.
The last of this type of meeting was the Ludwigsburg one in 2003, where we realised that the meetings were becoming rather repetitive, and as I made some modest suggestions for reform I somehow became the chairman. What crystallised out of this was the idea that we should not only inform each other in terms of our institutional offers but also use the network for professional development with workshops and information about EU programmes, teaching and research projects as well as the school system of the host country. Some tensions actually arose out of this because of the dual nature of the university representatives; some saw themselves primarily as international administrators, others as university teachers with an international teaching and research interest. I was a bit of both.
The format has proved to be quite successful, I think.
In 2004 we gave ourselves the name of NETT as well as deciding to set out our goals, procedures and processes for membership and management. Friederike Hoch (PH Zürich) and Vita Kusleikiene (Siauliai University) were especially prominent in formulating the ideas.