The first initiative was started in 1996. In the course of the implementation of the UOG 93 (Universities Organisation Act) in March 1996, the then Vice-Rector for Continuing Education and Human Resources Management at the University of Agricultural Sciences Vienna invited colleagues from other universities to a round table to exchange experiences and to explore the potential of university continuing education and staff development. The round table developed into a network. In 1998 the name AUCEN and the aims and guidelines were established and a representative as "Spokesperson" designated. AUCEN is a forum for the common interests and specific needs of both subject areas, university continuing education and staff development. From October 2002 to January 2005, the AUCEN Office was provided with staff resources financed by the Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture to coordinate and advance the network. Up to October 2005, AUCEN was an informal network of universities for universities. Since then, AUCEN is a registered, formal association with its office financed by the member universities.
The organisational structure of AUCEN
AUCEN has its own statutes and regulations as required by Austrian Association law. Its Steering Committee is composed of six professionals (three working in university continuing education, three in university staff development) from different member universities. The members of the Steering Committee are elected by the General Assembly for a period of two years. Externally the AUCEN network is represented by a Spokesperson and a Vice-Spokesperson. AUCEN has a permanent office, currently at the Center for Continuing Education at the University of Graz. The day-to-day business is managed by a part-time administrator. At least one General Assembly is held per year as part of the usually semi-annual "AUCEN Meeting".
Membership is institutional only and all public Austrian universities are potential members. Each university nominates and delegates representatives for university continuing education and university staff development. Membership is subject to a fee. AUCEN currently has 20 members.
AUCEN depends on the commitment and the voluntary contributions of its members and their willingness to share experiences and good practice. It is up to the members to form task groups to work on specific topics of current interest. These results are presented at the network meetings and provide impetus for both subject areas. AUCEN members are also invited to contribute to work groups of other stakeholders such as the Austrian University Conference (Uniko) which has recently published a document on "Principles and recommendations to the university continuing education programmes" (January 2009).
In general, AUCEN's activities focus on the following areas:
Communication and Dialogue
AUCEN is a platform where persons responsible for continuing education and staff development at Austrian universities can exchange their experiences. Both subject areas shall be advanced and professionalised jointly and in a division of labour, also at international level. AUCEN is an active member of the task force "Instruction" of the Austrian University Conference (Uniko) and of the Lifelong Learning Advisory Board for Universities of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research.
Development of Quality and Quality Assurance
To develop and assure quality standards is a constant challenge. Members of the AUCEN network work on the advancement and assurance of quality criteria in both subject areas.
Common Forum for University Continuing Education and University Staff Development
University continuing education and university staff development address different target groups. The common interest is to exchange experiences and ideas and to strengthen the position of both subject areas through joint strategies.
Contribution to New Developments at the Universities
Since the Austrian universities became autonomous at the beginning of 2004, university continuing education and staff development at universities have played an important role. The AUCEN network pursues joint strategies and stimulates the implementation of new concepts
The work programms are decided at the semi-annual AUCEN Meetings and encompasses the following:
- Quality Assurance in University Continuing Education
- Executives Continuing Education and Quality Assurance in University Staff Development
- Strategic Development of AUCEN
International cooperation and projects
AUCEN ist member of EUCEN, the European University Continuing Education Network. The delegate of AUCEN regularly take part in EUCEN activities, such as European conferences (and within these, the National Networks Meetings) and projects. Information on topics on the European agenda is distributed via AUCEN to the network members, feedback of AUCEN members is fed into the work of EUCEN. Through the Center for Continuing Education at the University of Graz, AUCEN was involved in the Grundtvig Projects EQUIPE (European Quality in Individualised Pathways in Education) and EQUIPE Plus. Within the framework of these projects, it was possible for AUCEN members to participate in expert workshops on quality development of university lifelong learning. AUCEN functions as a dissemination, valorisation and exploitation forum for best practices in European developmental work. Through its members, AUCEN also has links to other relevant international and European networks.
- From October 2002 and until January 2005 the AUCEN Office had been provided with staff resources to coordinate and advance the network. These resources were financed through the Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture.
- Since October 2005 AUCEN is an association; the AUCEN Office is financed by the members.
- If you are interested, please contact the branch Manager Dr. Katharina Mallich-Poetz: aucen(at)meduniwien.ac.at