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International strategy

Two major factors need to be taken into account when devising an international relations (IR) development strategy for the years to come within a European higher education institution (HEI) — the globalization of all types of exchange and the acquisition of true European citizenship based on its “unity in diversity” slogan, which stems from over half a century of European policies.

We must take this new socio-economic data on board so that UniLaSalle students are better equipped to become the European managers of tomorrow, by giving them all the tools they need to easily adapt to the ever-changing job market.

Giving our students the chance to gain long-term experience abroad both in a professional (internships) and academic (semester, year or dual degree) setting is key to this preparation.

UniLaSalle is introducing a proactive strategy to increase student mobility and has an ambitious objective for 2020 — that the vast majority of our students (>75%) will spend two long periods abroad, i.e. an internship AND academic trip in Europe AND Outside Europe (including 25% in the fifth year of a dual degree).

Several measures are being taken to meet this objective. Within the school academic setting, we are increasing opportunities to study aboard, something which is now possible in every year of the engineering degree (students have been able to study abroad from the third year since 2013-2014), and we are boosting our language policy by offering a wider range of second languages.

The number of lectures given in English on the engineering degree is set to increase and the Erasmus program facilitates student mobility. Three Associate Professors and two administrative staff members took advantage of mobility programs in 2011-2012, but we aim to reach a dozen participants by 2020. In addition, a policy is in place to ascertain the level of involvement of Associate Professors in international relations.

For internships abroad, we have just increased human resources to improve supervision, specification monitoring, academic relevance and consistency with student programs. We would like to maintain popular internships and explore opportunities for other types of (academic and research) partnerships.

 

At the same time, we are strengthening our academic partnership networks in Europe (40) but also outside of the EU (35) by targeting certain regions like Mediterranean basin countries, the CIS and also North and South America (US, Canada, Colombia, Brazil, etc.) and China. UniLaSalle is also developing its IR initiatives within networks such as the IALU (International Association of Lasallian Universities [>70]), ICA, APLU, GCHERA and AUF (Francophone University Association). This networking fosters the development of educational projects (i.e. the creation of dual degrees or the ATLANTIS project) and scientific projects (Food Institute in the Philippines within the IALU).

We would now like to move on to a consolidation phase, by identifying a more select number of partner universities with which we can increase and develop certain areas of cooperation, firstly by focusing on the compatibility of study programs and research topics, excellence in teaching and the presence of dedicated and voluntary contact people in the targeted universities.

The drive to make our campus more international also involves increasing the number of foreign students by making our academic programs more appealing. Our aim for 2020 is to develop programs taught in English based on themes that appeal to international students, and to offer at least one degree program, one long program (>30 ECTS) and one short (summer) program per specialization.

For the Food & Health Specialization, two new Masters programs have been available since September 2013: “Management, Catering, Health and Wellbeing” in collaboration with English partners and “Urban Food Management and Safety”.

For the Agriculture Specialization, a “Plant Breeding” Masters program was launched in September 2014, taught exclusively in English, and there is also an “Agricultural Procurement Management” Masters that was initially aimed at students from the CIS.

Finally, in Geology, the month-long summer field school has been opened up to international students and other training programs are being developed in these three fields.

It goes without saying that these ambitious but necessary objectives cannot be achieved without the support and membership of the Erasmus for All program, which will continue to contribute to the development of UniSalle abroad.

Our institution’s strategy for planning and implementing European and international collaborative projects in teaching and training, in line with projects introduced as part of the Program

With the increasing importance of international relations within our higher education institution, the growing team of lecturers and its involvement abroad, we will be in a position to seek other sources of European and international funding to help us achieve these objectives.

As explained above, Associate Professors are now also assessed annually on the basis of their international involvement. Furthermore, for each newly-created degree program, an Associate Professor will be appointed as program director (with the corresponding hourly workload), and this will lead to the creation of new administrative support and logistics jobs.

At the same time, the international team is being built up with the creation of a full-time Manager of International Internships position, and extra human resources will be considered as soon as required.

As described in the section above, we have ambitious objectives in terms of international development despite the current difficult context (cuts in funding, etc.) but they correspond to a desire and need to maintain our level of excellence. This is why we count on the lasting support of the Program. Local stakeholders, including the regional and departmental councils, also help with UniLaSalle IR objectives through grants awarded to both incoming and outgoing students.

The Picardy region is a perfect example of this and we hope to continue receiving this support in the future. UniLaSalle increased its involvement in 2013 by taking over the presidency of “Study in Picardy” (an association for developing external relations for Picardy region HEIs). Within this association, we share our experiences, optimize processes linked to setting up these mobility programs (both for students and Associate Professors), and increase our visibility nationally and internationally.

The desired impact of our adhesion to the Program on the modernization of our institution, as regards the policy objectives we intend to pursue

  • Increase student qualification levels: by improving the follow-up of internships and assessing their relevance and quality, by acquiring at least two foreign languages and perfecting the second foreign language, by giving all students the chance to study aboard, and by promoting all this experience for the first job contract.
  • Improve the quality and relevance of higher education: an increase in Associate Professor mobility will, through a quest for better practices, enable the current offering to be adapted and developed and for teaching methods to be updated.
  • Raise quality thanks to mobility and transnational cooperation: through opportunities offered by the Program, we are trying to improve the overall quality of our partner portfolio both in and outside Europe. We would like to intensify cooperation with certain highly regarded partners, increasing contact with them. This will lead to a type of benchmarking that can only be positive for us, as we are aware of growing competition both at home and abroad that pushes us to constantly improve our degree programs and boost our corporate identity.
  • Establish a link between higher education, research and businesses to promote excellence and regional development: promote excellence and regional jobs. We are lucky enough to be located in the Picardy region, where there are already effective structures for promoting higher education. We work closely with the Research Department to maximize Associate Professor contracts and, together with educational initiatives, develop research alliances with our partners abroad.
  • Improve governance and funding: with time spent abroad now common to all degree programs, there will be greater consideration for constraints but also for the value added to the engineering program by this experience. This will raise the profile of the international agenda within our institution, making it easier to provide the resources required to support our many initiatives abroad.