Erasmus+ Heart Attack

In December 2013, the EU launched Erasmus Plus: another huge financial programme for education. The deadline to submit proposals for Strategic Partnerships was today 12:00 for Round 1 (2014), the next round coming next year. Four months (January - April) to develop a proposal. That's more or less enough - if you have an already-cooperating consortium with a history of joint projects, personal and administrative ties, etc. That's barely enough in cases like ours. 2nd Gen Humanities has been around since October 2013, a newborn with no history behind it. Neither did the Department have prior partnerships in the field of innovative / digital / market-oriented teaching of humanities.

So, if you first have to recruit institutional partners you've never collaborated with, and develop the proposal from scratch, four months is a crazy challenge. You can't outline the proposal in detail until you know what institutions are in, as the project partially depends on their expertise and resources. And it's difficult to make a new partner commit to the partnership until the detailed outline is on the table. Still, we did it. A higher-ed from the UK, another from Israel, a business enterprise from Denmark and an NGO from Germany agreed to join the "Humanities Education for Skills and Employability" project led by UKW. But trust and agreement are not enough. There's also the paperwork to handle within the deadline, while the official guidelines / document templates have not all been available from the beginning (some were released as late as in March). And we do that as unpaid voluntary work on top of regular duties. So, we pushed the time limit to the limits. With submission deadline on Apr 30 at 12:00, the last absolutely required documents from partners were supposed to reach us on Monday / Tuesday. 

Monday: The papers from Germany were to be delivered by DHL in the morning.
  • I check with the office of the Vice-Rector who must sign the papers before they are submitted. It's not there. 
  • I learn from the sender they sent it to my office instead and it was already received. I check with the front desk where it should be received. It's not there. 
  • Neither it is in the Director's office at the other end of the building (plausible, if the driver had used the other entrance). 
  • The sender from Germany gets me the delivery info: received at 9:41, signed by a person named this-and-that: the name of the director's secretary I had talked to. I call her again: she is positive she had no delivery from DHL this day. 
  • Now I'm at a loss. Can't figure out what happened. It was only the delivery company that solved the puzzle for me: the lazy driver had left the letter in the Chancellor's office in another building. (The same university, so don't mind the street address, any office will do, huh?) And the chancellor's secretary who received it happened to have the same last name as the secretary in my building. 
  • Anyway, we've got it!

Tuesday: The very last required document arrives by e-mail. Our Vice-Rector is no longer available in his office on this day, but there's still the last day tomorrow. Well, not the whole day, the submissions close at noon. But the V-R will be there to sign it in early in the morning. And we finally have all papers ready.

Or so we thought.

Day Zero, four hours ago: Our legal representative signed everything, had it scanned, and the last thing I must do is to upload the scans as attachments to the e-Form. And it goes like that:
  • I've got 11 attachments as separate files (including 10 scanned pages) and only 5 slots in the form, but that's not a problem (I think), let's upload it as one ZIP file. 
  • Error. File type not supported. The e-Form only accepts XLS, PDF, JPG and several others.
  • You must be kidding me. I know, it's nothing unusual - but perhaps they should've provided information on supported file types next to the box? or at least in the Technical Guide, which I had read thoroughly? Some warning I could use while I had been preparing files for upload, not in a pop-up window which I can see only when it's already done?
  • But there's no need to panic. I still have two hours before the deadline. I put all scans in one file and save it as PDF. Another upload. 
  • Error. The total size of attachments should not exceed 5120 kB.
  • Now it's getting serious. If you wondered where the 'heart attack' part was, it was that moment. Less than 2 hours. 10 image files to resize, paste into one file, save as PDF. Make sure to include all files - preferably, in correct order. Make sure the total doesn't exceed the limit. Upload within 1,5 hour. Fail at that, and your next chance is next year.
  • Yes! The form with all required attachments is complete! One hour before the 12:00 deadline. Now the only thing is to click "Submit online".
  • Error. The form has not been submitted. 
  • It seems my security settings block communication with the National Agency's website. I'm not sure and have no time to check. I send the file to the university office that will supervise the grant project. They click the "Submit" button for me.
  • This form has been submitted online on: 2014-04-30 11:00:28. Status: OK.
One hour ahead of time.

Now I can say it was nothing special. Nothing to worry about. Really. Piece of cake. I could do that each day. ;)