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.