Across the Röstigraben

Maya Dougoud, legal counsel at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland in Fribourg (UASAWS-F), crosses Switzerland’s linguistic and cultural borders in order to get to know SWITCH from the inside and to represent the French-speaking university landscape for a year.

Text: published on 26.02.2020

This exchange, which has a number of objectives, benefits the two institutions which are both operating within the same landscape. Although it’s a big change for me and all of the stakeholders involved, the mutual benefit will outweigh: the proximity to and within the community.

A meeting at SWITCH’s ICT Law Working Group

It all began during a regular meeting of SWITCH’s ICT Law Working Group. Thanks to the various discussions in this working group I have, since 2015, developed a professional relationship with SWITCH, as well as a network with my colleagues of the other tertiary educational institutions. But if there is one thing, above all, that has made this exchange possible, it was the development of mutual trust and an especially close relationship with the organising members of the ICT Law Working Group.

A new role

Within my own area of expertise – ICT law, intellectual property and data protection law, in both academic and public-law contexts – I take a curious look at the two institutions which I will enrich with constructive ideas. SWITCH benefits from my more than twelve years of professional experience in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, of which I have been six years part of the management board of UASAWS-F, at the heart of four Fribourg universities. But my Fribourg academic institution, in turn, benefits from the different organisational model that I bring, as well as my extensive knowledge of educational training support tools (such as SWITCHdrive, SWITCHhub, SWITCHtube and SWITCHcast) and access to the German-speaking network.

A new start with many advantages

For the last six months, I have been living in Zurich with my family, working for SWITCH and engaging in further training. By doing so, I have managed to combine various opportunities, including in my private life, as I’m making the most of my time here to improve my German and to learn more about the region and its academic, economic and cultural stakeholders. I have also given my children the opportunity to learn German in an intensive course. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I have, according to my colleagues, shown determination, a flair for organisation and no small amount of courage.

Community support

However, my well-considered and structured decision, still required a very precise time and priority planning. I have received strong encouragement and understanding from both of my employers – SWITCH and UASAWS-F. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the SWITCH legal team for their warm welcome, generous cooperation, top insider tips, discussions, sampling sessions, trust, understanding and constructive collaboration. My exchange programme already qualifies as a success, and the effort invested has paid off.

A call for imitation

Universities are used to scientific leave, but it is mainly reserved for teaching and research personnel (TRP). The experience described above breaks new ground in terms of exchange opportunities for administrative and technical personnel (ATP). It brings many advantages for both institutions and should therefore be encouraged.

Conclusion and a small French challenge for you:

«Parfois, j’ai l’impression d’être une EXpat… Mais en fait, je suis une INpat ! D’ailleurs, je suis vraiment une INpat, car je n’ai jamais quitté la communauté du monde académique (IN) et je suis toujours un membre du personnel administratif et technique (PAT).»

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