European Policy Statement of Flensburg University of Applied Sciences.
Flensburg University of Applied Sciences (FUAS) develops its partnerships with other universities on the basis of the mutual benefits that both partner institutions can gain from their cooperation, even though the exact nature of the benefits received by each of the partners may in fact differ at times. For example, even where there may be an imbalance between incomings and outgoings between two institutions in terms of staff or student mobility, the benefit for the university receiving greater incomings is also considered to be great as these incomings are a key part of the very important process of ‘internationalisation at home’ at that university due to the effect that the incoming international students and/or staff have on the students and/or staff and the quality of the learning experience offered by host institution. Thus, also students who never go abroad can benefit from a more international studying and learning environment.
The primary considerations in choosing partners are thus of a strategic nature, with the mutual suitability of the partnership being important for both sides. Similar research and teaching interests and opportunities and how well the courses of studies offered at the partner universities complement each other can be of great importance, but they are not the only criteria considered. Due to Flensburg’s geographical location the FUAS is ideally located for partnerships with universities around the Baltic Sea. This is reflected by the partnerships we have established to date (please see the International Office webpage for further details of our current partnerships), but also by those partnerships which we intend to continue to build up in the future. These are supplemented by the many partnerships we already have in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe.
Although Europe is the focus of the larger part of our partnerships, FUAS also has partners much further afield, in countries such as Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, the West Indies, Australia and New Zealand. FUAS will continue to explore suitable opportunities to broaden that range of partnerships, both inside Europe and worldwide. Student mobility is encouraged at both Bachelor’s and at Master’s degree level, whether in the form of a period of study abroad or of a placement to gain experience in a working environment in another country. The purposes of these exchanges are multifaceted. Students can benefit not only from having the opportunity to take individual modules or learn things which will enhance and add to the knowledge and skills that they would have acquired at their home universities, they will also gain by experiencing a more multicultural living and educational or working environment, thus learning intercultural skills which can be to their great benefit.
Living and studying or working abroad can be an educational experience in many more ways than one. The international understanding and intercultural skill students can gain will also be to the benefit of the societies they live in. Furthermore, the learning and speaking of languages other than one’s native language also leads to a breaking down of international barriers and to greater understanding.
Staff mobility is also supported and encouraged. Staff mobility amongst non-academic staff is also encouraged as this will aid the internationalisation process and better prepare administrative staff for the roles they have to play in welcoming and supporting students from abroad, but this is not numerically speaking the primary focus of the exchange activities. Numerically speaking the emphasis is largely on the teaching and research staff.
Academic staff benefit greatly from the opportunity of meeting colleagues at other universities and exchanging ideas with them, thus broadening and extending their international networks. It also allows the teaching staff to explore the possibilities of either doing research together with their counterparts at partner universities or to work on developing curricula with joint or complementary contents and to use this as a basis to develop double degrees. FUAS currently has two double degree agreements (one with IUT
Saint-Nazaire in France, the other one with Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences in Finland), but it is our firm intention to expand that range by offering more courses taught in the English language and finding further partners with whom double degree programmes would make good sense. In fact, a further two joint degree programmes are already currently in the planning stages. Once again, a double degree programme can be an excellent opportunity to broaden the range of courses taught and the academic expertise offered to the students without needing to expand locally. Also, as above, the benefits in terms of internationalisation at home are very considerable indeed.
FUAS has in the past years worked to build up cooperations with different partners in different places, some relatively nearby, such as in Denmark and in the other countries around the Baltic Sea, some a little further afield, such as the rest of Europe, some even further afield, such as in Namibia and the West Indies. In different partnerships the emphasis will have been, and may well continue to be, on differing aspects of the relationships we have built up, and the benefits which each partner will have gained from these partnerships may have varied. In some cases the emphasis will have been on the mutual exchange of knowledge, in some partnerships the flow of knowledge may apparently have been more one-sided. But whatever the nature of the relationship, the benefits in terms of an increase in internationalisation and also in terms of modernisation, in a broad sense, will have been felt by both parties.
Whether FUAS has in the past become involved in strategic partnerships with other universities and enterprises to encourage close collaboration with a view to greater success in the fields in which each of us works, whether FUAS has built up alliances to encourage the sharing and exchange of knowledge and possibly also skills, or whether it has helped to develop new programmes of study with its partners, these steps are all the foundation upon which we intend to build a more modern and more international future – together with our partners. For the mutual benefit of all. Thus, we intend to build on past experience and achievements and continue to work towards creating a better future – participation in the Erasmus Programme will be a central part of this strategy.
The Erasmus Programme and the increased levels of internationalisation which we hope to achieve with its support are of great importance to FUAS as these will assist us in our efforts to continue to develop and further optimise the courses of studies offered, thus ensuring the relevance and applicability of what is being taught. This is not only important in that it will help to attract more students to come and study here, it is also very important in that it will help to motivate these students to also complete the studies which they have started because they will be able to see that they are being provided with the knowledge and skills which they will need in their future careers. For this process to be as effective as possible, FUAS needs to have extensive contacts to and an exchange of ideas and knowledge with teaching staff at other universities, both inside and outside Germany as well as inside and outside Europe.
Moreover, we also intend to continue to foster close relationships and cooperations with companies, with special emphasis on small and medium-sized companies, as the examples of the partnership with the Vidensregion Syddanmark/Wissensregion Schleswig-Holstein and also the cooperation with Welfare Tech in Denmark illustrate. A further example of such activities is our Dr. Werner Jackstädt-Zentrum, which works towards encouraging and fostering entrepreneurship regionally, both in Germany and in
We will therefore continue to expand and, most importantly, to deepen our cross-border cooperation with both other universities and with companies. This will allow our students to benefit from greater access to a wider range of both interesting and useful opportunities to study abroad, or to get work experience during placements, and to benefit from the further improved courses on offer at FUAS. The experience that students will be able to gain as a result of this internationalisation at our university of applied sciences will not only better prepare them for their lives after graduation, it will also contribute to a more general increased level of internationalisation within Germany and Europe, and even outside Europe.
Flensburg University of Applied Sciences, as the name implies, already has a strongly applied approach to both teaching and research. We will continue along this path, but hope to further increase the level of cross-border interaction with partners in the business world to continue and further deepen the process of knowledge transfer between our university, our partners in the academic world and our partners in the world of business and commerce. Without the financial support offered via the Erasmus Programme it would be virtually impossible to achieve even close to the rate of internationalisation that we aspire to. Every effort is made to ensure that the financial resources made available are invested wisely and judiciously and in the best interests of all concerned.