ERASMUS POLICY STATEMENT – OVERALL STRATEGY INTERNATIONALISATION
International awareness and competences are vital to the education of New Young Professionals. Howest aims for all graduates to have a good understanding of international developments within their field, and the skills and attitudes needed to cooperate with diverse international stakeholders in a global society.
To this purpose, Howest has incorporated the international dimension in every degree program. All students come throughout their studies in direct contact with the international context of their chosen area of study, both from an academic and a labour market perspective. This is implemented in our diverse departments and study programs by stimulating, supporting, evaluating and adapting a wide range of internationalisation activities, from the international focus in the course contents, internationalisation@home activities in cooperation with international partners, lecturers, researchers and enterprise representatives, to staff and student mobility (incoming/outgoing), active membership in international academic and professional networks, project coordination or partnership, joint research and services to society.
The activities are designed, promoted and supported by the international coordinators, operational in all layers of the university, at the level of the central administration, departments and in each degree program.
Howest strives to build close and lasting partnerships with organisations and institutions right across the border in neighbouring countries, in Europe and worldwide. Many of our partners are located in the EU, but in the last decennium, considerable effort has been invested in growing and maintaining our network all over the globe, in e.g. China, India, USA and selected countries in Africa (Guinée,Uganda, South Africa), South America (Brazil, Mexico) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan).This will be continued and expanded in the coming years.
We aim to form partnerships with organisations that are complementary, yet with whom we share our application-oriented nature and our focus on sustainability, innovation, multidisciplinarity and entrepreneurship. We consciously look for partners to build alliances with on different levels, providing a structure for student and staff mobility, exchange of knowledge and expertise, curriculum development, joint research or other forms of project cooperation.
Staff and student mobility play an essential role in Howest’s internationalisation strategy, because of its effectiveness in introducing students to their worldwide field of study and in enhancing the international and intercultural competences graduates need to act as responsible and aware professionals and global citizens.
High-quality student mobility is implemented in a three-step, threshold-lowering plan of action. In their 1st BA year, students focus on I@H. They take part in International Days on campus and study visits just across the Flemish/Belgian borders.
The 2nd year, students can choose from a menu of intense, short-term, individual or group-based, ECTS-recognised international activities: IPs and projects or international weeks at Howest or in partner institutions, study trips to trade fairs and conferences, …. This second stage is very important, i.a. to convince more cautious students of the feasibility and value of international cooperation. In addition, for many students of a less-privileged background, these short-term mobilities are often the only ones within their means. They therefore highly contribute to achieving our goal of involving all of our students in an intense international learning experience. In their final semesters, students participate in individual long-term mobility, from development cooperation to study exchanges and placements within or outside of Europe. Howest has set the Bologna 2020 mobility goal as a minimum target for each program.
We continue to internationalise our campuses, improve staff language skills and increase our course offer in English and hosting capacity for foreign students and staff. This in turn enhances the I@H dimension.
Staff mobility and participation in international projects are other important tools for achieving our strategic objectives. Professional and interpersonal connections with other academic and enterprise professionals are vital to the creation and organisation of strong partnerships and networks. International cooperation has a direct impact on the quality and innovation of curricula, research and services to society. Furthermore, the motivational effect of regular international exchange on individuals and the multiplier effect of this enthusiasm on students cannot be underestimated. Howest invests substantially in staff to attract the funds to allow as many students and staff to benefit from an international experience.
A pilot double degree has been implemented with an institution in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Based on this experience, further joint degrees will be developed.