Forging an International Path
President Godehard Ruppert and Vice-president for Teaching and Learning Sebastian Kempgen brought home a valuable package from the “Internationalisation at Home” audit conference that was held in Berlin on the 1st and 2nd of December. The contents: an official seal, a certificate, a great deal of praise and a number of recommendations for future action. The two representatives were recognised for the University of Bamberger’s successful participation in the Audit “Internationalisation of Universities” organised by the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). The university is now among the 66 institutions of higher learning that have already completed or are currently undergoing the audit.
The audit represents a range of advisory services in which experts analyse existing structures, institutional strategies and measures, and then make recommendations for future development. Godehard Ruppert has voiced his satisfaction with the audit findings, stating, “Our current target agreement has placed an increased focus on internationalisation. We are pleased that we were able to complete this audit process – one of agreement’s specified measures – at such an early stage.”
The Audit Process
The audit process is both lengthy and thorough. Sebastian Kempgen managed a special project group that spent 12 months compiling, scanning and scrutinising information on the university’s internationalisation activities. The resulting self-evaluation report is one of the key milestones in the process and forms the foundation for the HRK committee’s subsequent evaluation.
This preliminary work culminated in a three-day site visit from the HRK audit team. During their visit, auditors conducted one-on-one and team interviews on the current state of internationalisation with representatives from the academic faculties, the International Office, the Welcome Center and from other departments and institutions significantly involved in the university’s international activities. Based on the interviews and the self-evaluation report, the advisors carried out an evaluation of hitherto existing measures and issued recommendations for the future.
Achievements To Date
The HRK committee was particularly impressed with the numerous, well-established activities and instruments in the four major areas of Planning & Steering, Study & Teaching, Research & Technology Transfer, and Advice & Support. Among these were the established international degree programmes like the double master’s degree in political science. Positive feedback was also generated by the high degree of both German and foreign students’ satisfaction with their studies at the University of Bamberg. The committee further noted that the “International Office, Welcome Center and the faculties’ foreign studies representatives exhibit an impressive degree of dedication.”
The committee identified potential for improvement in, for example, the collection of strategically valuable data concerning things like individual university members’ foreign relations or language skills. This information would be necessary, for instance, to systematically maintain and build on existing foreign relations and exchange programmes, and to develop a comprehensive, long-term internationalisation strategy. The HRK also recommends stronger consideration of the academic faculties’ perspectives.
Recommendations for the Future
Based on the HRK recommendations, University Governance is already making plans for the coming years, looking first at the fields of Planning & Steering and Study & Teaching. The two most important plans in the Study & Teaching category are an expanded offering of English-language and other bilingual degree programmes, as well as the introduction of more international elements into programme curricula. “Our double degree programmes in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Economics and Business Administration, and the joint degrees in our Humanities Faculty should serve as model programmes that can be utilised and expanded on,” says Sebastian Kempgen.
On the committee’s recommendation the university will also undertake to strengthen the faculties’ roles in internationalisation and achieve a more harmonious coordination of the individual faculties’ strategies with the overall strategy of the university. Furthermore, the university will increase its efforts to look beyond German borders when hiring instructors. As Godehard Ruppert explains, “A truly internationalised university also requires an international teaching staff. For this reason, we are not only working on bringing German scholars back from abroad, but also on continuing to make Bamberg an attractive destination for foreign scholars.”
There is already evidence of initial success: Prof. Roy Baumeister, the renowned psychologist from Florida State University (USA), was chosen to receive the Humboldt Research Award after being nominated by Prof. Astrid Schütz. The €60,000 award is one of Germany’s most substantial research prizes and it will make it possible for Prof. Baumeister to spend a total of six months conducting research at the University of Bamberg’s Faculty of Human Sciences and Education between 2015 and 2017.
This press release was written by Tanja Eisenach for the University of Bamberg’s press office and was translated by Benjamin Wilson. It may be used without restriction for journalistic purposes.
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