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Internationalisation in Practice: Challenges and Prospects

Following the successful completion of the pilot phase of the HRK-Audit “Internationalisation of Universities”, over 180 participants attended the conference “Internationalisation in Practice: Challenges and Prospects”.

The Audit’s one-year pilot phase drew to a close with the conference “Internationalisation in Practice: Challenges and Prospects” held at the Umweltforum in Berlin on 29-30 September 2011. During the course of the conference, the HRK team and six pilot universities - alongside over 180 representatives from universities, ministries, and academic organisations - came away with an overwhelmingly positive assessment of the pilot phase. Another focus of the event was the future of internationalisation at German universities.

Opening the conference, Cornelia Quennet-Thielen, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), emphasised the need to establish a genuinely welcoming culture for international academics and students in Germany. Professor Dr. Dieter Lenzen, HRK Vice President of International Affairs, used his speech to highlight the Audit’s unique benefits for universities. An evaluation of the pilot phase had shown that the specific combination of structured self-reflection and external consultation helped the universities involved to (further) develop their internationalisation strategies in targeted and highly-individualised ways.
Senior administrators from the six pilot universities (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Hochschule Mannheim, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Hochschule München, Universität Bielefeld und die Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus) confirmed again how significant a contribution the Audit had made to their respective internationalisation processes. They took part in a lively panel discussion entitled “Is Internationalisation the Responsibility of University Leadership?”

This stimulating discussion was followed by four workshops, in which participants exchanged views on specific internationalisation challenges in the areas of “Planning & Steering”, “Study & Teaching”, “Research & Technology Transfer”, and “Advice & Support”. The conference was rounded off with a discussion on the “Internationalisation of German Universities: Strengths, Weaknesses, Potential for Improvement”, with contributions from representatives of German universities, higher education experts, and the BMBF.

The conference proved to be a successful forum in which universities were able to share their experiences at both the management and operational levels. It offered networking opportunities, presented examples of good internationalisation practices, and brought together interesting actors from universities, government and academic and funding organisations.

Spurred on by the successful pilot phase and the uniformly positive feedback from conference participants, the Audit is now entering the second project phase, which will be funded by the BMBF until the end of 2013.The initial call for applications resulted in the selection of 20 additional universities.

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