UiB sets ambitious goals for student exchange

For the first time, the number of UiB students taking courses abroad has passed 30 per cent. Now the university wants to increase this number to more than 40 per cent.

International mobility
Emma Gerritsen

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In 2014, 31 percent of the students who received a degree at the University of Bergen (UiB) had attended an exchange programme during their period of study.

“We are very pleased to learn that we have achieved our goals, which were set in the plan for international activities 2011-2015,” says Vice Rector for International Affairs at UiB, Anne Christine Johannessen.

She explains that systematic work, both in the central administration at UiB and at the faculties, with information and procedures connected to exchange programmes, has been taking place. The aim being to increase the number of exchange students.

The University Board recently adopted UiB's strategy for the period 2016-2022.

According to this, at least 40 percent of the students should attend an exchangeprogramme as part of their degree.

“We want to be ambitious. Nonetheless, we believe that 40 percent is an appropriateand realistic number,” says Johannessen.


How to achieve greater participation

“To provide more students travelling out, we need help from leaders at all levels. Thelecturers must inform the students that it is important to participate in exchange programmes. It is also vital that the curriculum is organised so that students can take a semester abroad. Centrally at UiB, we make sure that we have exchange contracts with excellent universities around the world. My main task is to provide support to the academic environments, and ensure that the institution provides adequate support,” says the vice-rector.


Erasmus+ provides new opportunities

Another important contribution to the exchange possibilities is that Norway recently became a full member of the Erasmus+ programme. It is now also possible to cooperate with countries outside of Europe. Another new activity of Erasmus + is youth worker mobility for graduates, where students who have completed a degree can get support to go on an internship at a European workplace.

“This is an exciting field. Vocational studies such as medicine and ontology already have practice as part of their exchange programmes, but in many other studies this has not previously been an opportunity. It will be interesting to explore these options further,” says Johannessen.


40 per cent within reach

The proportion of students who study abroad as part of their studies vary greatly between disciplines and faculties. At the Faculty of Law over 50 per cent of the students go on exchange abroad. Johannessen believes this sets an example for the rest of the university.

“At the Faculty of Law, which is led by Dean Asbjørn Strandbakken, they actively focus on exchange. Scientifically speaking, there is no reason why this faculty should have higher numbers than the others,” says the vice-rector.

She believes that the target of 40 per cent is well within reach.

“We should not forget that our Minister of Education and Research recently stated that studies abroad should be the rule, not the exception, for all Norwegian students,” says Anne Christine Johannessen.

“There will always be someone who is unable to travel abroad. For them it is important that the education here at UiB is international. We can do this partly by facilitating the curriculum for international students and make sure that they are well integrated with the Norwegian students.”