Erasmus Charter and Erasmus Policy Statement (eng.)
An important part of the strategy of the University of Bergen (UiB) is that internationalization shall be an integrated part of education and research and be an ingredient that contributes to the high academic standards of the institution. UiB considers the Erasmus+ programme to be an important tool when facing the diverse and serious problems in Europe related to the economic situation and the employability of the youth generation. Another important goal for the UiB is that our students and staff through research and expertise shall contribute actively towards meeting global challenges.
The institution has a long tradition of research collaboration with universities in Africa, Asia and Latin America and will continue these collaborative efforts. The extent to which international students and scholars choose to join our university is seen as an important measure of the UiB’s status as an internationally acclaimed university.
At the UiB the departments select independently their own European partners for educational and research cooperation. However, all departments are asked to single out a number of recommended exchange partners for their degree students. These partners should preferably be institutions with which there is also research collaboration. The departments should give special importance to these strategic partners when informing and counseling their students about exchange possibilities. The University selects its non-European HEI partner’s in a process initiated by departments and researchers, and coordinated and finalized by the university’s central offices. As the general rule, the agreement will be based on common research interests, although this is not always the case if the main activity in the collaboration is outgoing student mobility.
The majority of the mobility partners are European (EU), and the University of Bergen has one or more agreements with partners in every EU member state. The single most important country is in this respect Germany, closely followed by United Kingdom and France. Outside Europe the partners of the University of Bergen can largely be divided in two groups:
a) Partners with which the main objective for the agreement is outgoing student mobility (from the UiB). This refers to a large number of partners in USA, Australia, Asia, and to a smaller extent Africa and Latin America. These partners are selected first of all to meet the need for partner HEIs with high academic standard to facilitate student exchange (normally first cycle).
b) Partners with which the objectives of the agreement are broader and could include common research and development projects, admission to PhD programmes, incoming student exchange, degree mobility, joint degrees and more. These partners are selected drawing on more common interests and addressing national as well as international strategies and concerns.
Balance of incoming and outgoing students
For several years the University of Bergen has seen an imbalance in incoming and outgoing mobility. European universities send many more students then they receive from the UiB, and the ambition of UiB is to send more students to our European partners, and to receive approximately the same number of European students we are currently receiving. As for non-European countries it should be possible to increase mobility from countries like USA, Japan, Canada, Australia and the BRICS countries to the UiB. For countries where the high cost of living in Norway is an impediment for incoming mobility, the University hopes that the new possibilities of Erasmus-funding for students from non-European countries will increase the number of exchange students from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The University of Bergen wishes to put more efforts into preparing its students for studies in other foreign languages than English. Therefore a new language course in German started in the spring of 2013. Germany is the single most important country for student exchange for the UiB, and the aim is that the course will make more of the institution’s students choose German speaking countries for exchange. As a result there might be a better balance between in- and outgoing students from these parts of Europe. The University aims to provide summer courses in Norwegian for foreign students. A new course starts in the summer of 2013, offering incoming students some knowledge of the Norwegian language before starting their studies in the autumn. Nevertheless, the UiB realizes that to attract foreign students, one must offer courses in foreign languages in a wide range of subjects. These courses should also be relevant for Norwegian students, thus enabling a sound academic process and integration.
The University of Bergen will facilitate the establishment and administration of joint masters and doctoral degrees in areas where such cooperation will fortify strategic research collaboration and ensure a better and more internationally oriented education. Currently, the UiB participates in four Erasmus Mundus programmes as well as three Nordic programmes, of which one is coordinated by the UiB. In addition, the university takes part in national programmes like the Norwegian Quota Scholarship Scheme. The Quota Scholarship Scheme is used to fulfill the university’s strategic efforts in the area of development-related research, education and expertise. The scheme ensures the annual financing of scholarships for 150 students from countries outside the European Union. All of the University’s institutional networks, memberships and agreements will be reviewed in order to determine their contribution towards international cooperation in education and research. A separate plan will be set up to develop and improve the collaboration with strategically selected partner universities.
Quality of education
The Erasmus programme has put emphasis on the question of quality of education, retention of students and employability of students after graduation. Participation in the activities of the Programme is expected to enhance the quality and relevance of the teaching at the University of Bergen and will also contribute to improve the employability of students after their graduation. In the year 2012 the UiB organized an international workshop on the topic of student retention with Erasmus funding. The results of the workshop were very promising and hopefully it can be repeated during the next years.
The UiB believes that all teaching should be based on research, and that students should participate in research activities whenever possible. This also applies to international research collaboration which whenever possible should have an educational component. The university strategy is also that the mobility of students and teachers will lead to more exposure and more critical thinking about the quality and relevance of education. This concerns every aspect of higher education, as the content of study programmes, learning outcomes, teaching methods, language of teaching, examination methods and so forth. By comparing experiences from abroad with the situation at the home institution, both students and teachers will become more aware of the strong sides and areas of improvements at your own institution.
The admission of international students into the UiB programmes is a very good indicator of its relevance. The UiB is offering more than 30 international master programmes taught in English and participating in seven joint programmes with European partners. Exchange students are regularly admitted to every study programme at the university. The integration of international students in every part of the university has contributed strongly to the awareness of the benefits of internationalization and how it strengthens the quality of teaching and research.