Internationalisation policy at Universidad de León 2020-2024
Date: 21 de mayo de 2020
Internationalisation is becoming an increasingly important hallmark for higher education institutions, both in Spain as the rest of Europe. But, what do we understand when we talk about internationalisation? The concept of internationalisation is defined by the OECD as a process of integration of the international and intercultural dimension of learning, research and services of an institution. It is a living process to respond to the process of generalization and globalization, inclusive of elements of interculturality both international and local. It is, therefore, a process that goes beyond the international mobility of students, teachers and administrative staff, developed through programs such as Erasmus+ or AMICUS (ULE's own mobility program to non-European destinations).
Internationalisation affects all the teaching, activities and services that take place at the university, because all of them are susceptible of being in contact and collaboration with people of different nationalities and cultures. Internationalisation also requires the recognition, in a systematic way, of the special casuistry that involves the integration of students, teaching staff or administration from other countries in the university community of the University of León. Thus, the internationalisation process not only affects students, teachers or administrative staff in a mobility, but also all administrative services, our study plans and the way of teaching, researching or learning at our university.
1. Why is it important to establish an internationalisation process in the University of León?
An internationalisation process is of vital importance to our institution. A university that gives access and supports both international collaboration and student and staff mobilities will be able to effectively compete in the international market to attract students and researchers of the highest level, obtain funds for research and mobility programs, and provide its students with an essential linguistic, cultural and instructive-experiential background, which will make it easier to successfully face the challenges of the global society. The University of León will be able to offer opportunities to develop teaching-learning in a very international context, both referring to the teaching itself (providing it in different languages) as well as the presence of foreign students and teachers in our campuses.
Currently, it is difficult to conceive of a higher education institution that does not establish ambitious internationalisation levels among its strategic development axes that allow it to respond to current social needs, cooperating, sharing and spreading knowledge under the clear perspective that in the confluence and recognition of diversity is one of the greatest riches of a university institution. Furthermore, the alignment of our institution with the Sustainable Development Goals places internationalisation as a central element to stimulate the actions of our institution towards a sustainable society, committed to responsible development, the eradication of social inequalities and the conservation of our planet to future generations.
2. What is the actual state of internationalisation in the University of León?
Internationalisation, although not always in an explicit or intentional way, has been one of the main priorities of the University of León, and our entire university community has benefited from this process. Thus, since practically the dawn of our university, we have had a personnel structure linked to the development of international relations. With the passage of time our university has been advancing in line with society, and has been able to take advantage of its inclusion in important international networks of universities (Grupo Santander de Universidades; Grupo Compostela de Universidades; Nice Network; European Association for International Education-EAIE-; European University Association-EUA-; Asociación Universitaria Iberoamericana de Posgrado-AUIP-; Sistema Internacional de Certificación del Español como Lengua Extranjera-SICELE-; Asociación de Centros de Lenguas en la Enseñanza Superior-ACLES-; Asociación de Programas Norteamericanos en España-APUNE-; Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities-HACU-; o el Grupo Tordesillas).
The University of León's commitment to international mobility programs has been a determining factor in this process. European programs like Eramus+ (both in its traditional program KA103 and in the recent KA107) combined with own programs like AMICUS, the Co-teaching program or participation in international projects that encourage that all teachers, administrative staff and students from the University of León can benefit from a study, internship, training or teaching stay in one of the more than 3,000 places that we offer in our partner universities. This process has allowed ULE to collaborate in strengthening capacities and establishing new strategic alliances that increase internationalisation and the capacity for intercultural understanding of our university community.
This commitment has led our university to receive each year around 1000 foreign students from more than 50 different countries, which allow us to enjoy an international atmosphere with students from the five continents.
In addition, the University of León's internationalisation process recognizes and encourages internationalisation-at-home processes, which allow members of our community to develop international and intercultural competences through experiences that do not require international mobility.
Thus, from the University of León different programs and events are developed and promoted, such as the Buddy program, international coffees, the “welcome week”, virtual exchanges, international weeks or Faculty Led projects among others, that together with the actions developed by our Language Centre and the Confucius Institute of the University of León contribute significantly to the development of the internationalisation process of our university, in which the rest of the society of León and Ponferrada is also a participant. In addition, we have the collaboration of the AEGEE student network that collaborates in the organization of many other activities, trips and intercultural meetings that allow a complete integration of foreign students in the university life of León.
The position of privilege that our university currently holds should not lead us to complacency but to continue working with greater insistence, especially at the present time, to advance on the started path. For this reason, it is next listed a series of strategic axes on which the University of León is committed to guide its internationalisation process and which, at the same time, allow us to have a reference on which to evaluate the development of this process of adaptation to an international scenario characterized by uncertainty and a marked intercultural character.
Axis 1. Promote the international projection of the University of León.
- Development of communication strategies and dissemination of the activities and potential of the University of León in international settings.
- Promotion of internationalisation as a hallmark of the University of León.
- Promote actions aimed at sharing abroad the experience and access to services offered by the University of León in the field of teaching and research.
- Participation and presence of the University of León in the development of international projects in the academic, mobility and cooperation fields.
- Encourage the arrival of visiting teachers from foreign universities. Attract foreign researchers and teachers, or Spanish living abroad, who collaborate in teaching and research activities at the University of León.
- Adhesion of the University of León to networks and programs with a high international impact.
- Promote the incorporation of the University of León into the "European Universities" project that seeks to overcome mobility barriers through the alliances of international universities with a deep systemic, structural and sustainability character.
- Participation of the University of León in the main international fairs and promotion, networking and "recruitment" activities.
Axis 2. Increase the appeal of the University of León among students from other countries.
- Opening of a space for global attention to students, researchers, teachers and administration personnel who visit the University of León, to attend to and cover their basic demands when they arrive at the University of León.
- Promote and publicize the University of León internationally through institutional profiles on different social networks.
- Facilitate the participation of international students from the University of León in the different associations, cultural, sports and social activities that take place at the University of León.
- Increase the academic offer in English and under the English Friendly modality in Bachelor and Master degrees.
- Promote the participation and presence of the University of León in international rankings.
- Facilitate the procedures to favour and support the arrival of international students to the degrees of the University of León, especially to the Master and Doctorate programs.
- Promote the development of scholarship programs for international students.
- Implementation of joint degrees and double degrees with international partners.
- Develop specific courses, activities and programs with an international perspective such as (non-exhaustive list):
- Language training and accreditation courses for PAS, PDI and students.
- Development of short-term intensive programs with international partners.
- Encourage the holding of international conferences and meetings at the University of León.
- Promote virtual exchanges and the “blended mobility” type modality.
- Strengthen and reinforce the training offer in Spanish for foreign students and teachers.
- Promote the University of León as a destination for learning Spanish.
- Work for the development of a joint program of European Universities.
Axis 3. Increase international mobility and internationalisation at home at the University of León.
- Promote activities that publicize and enhance international mobility through specific aids and programs.
- Strengthen relations with institutions, universities, research centres and companies that expand the international possibilities of the members of the University of León.
- Promote the implementation of internationalisation activities at home (virtual exchanges, tandem programs, etc.) that allow members of our university community to have an international perspective and vision.
- Promote official training and accreditation in foreign languages.
- Encourage the development of international stays and practices.
- Develop specific programs that allow the interaction and collaboration of students and staff of the University of León with that of other universities.
- Facilitate the procedures for the realization of mobilities, favouring the use of electronic means and the suppression of the use of paper.
- Incorporation of mobility programs under the options of “virtual & blended mobility”.
Axis 4. Promote university cooperation for development.
- Promote the development of actions in line with the agreement signed by CRUE Universidades Españolas to work within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development approved by the UN.
- Promote the adherence of the University of León to declarations and initiatives related to social justice and university cooperation for development in line with the objectives set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development approved by the UN.
- Promote and encourage the participation of the members of the University of León in competitive calls related to the transfer of knowledge and university cooperation for development.
- Promote and reinforce the presence of the University of León in networks and consortiums for cooperation for development and transmission of knowledge.
- Promote agreements and collaborations that allow our university community to develop experiences of international volunteering, development of cooperation activities, as well as internships, end of degree/master project, etc. in projects linked to university development cooperation.
- Promote joint work with social agents in cooperation and volunteer projects.
- Promote the development of training courses and conferences on university development cooperation at the University of León.
- Incorporate indicators related to the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda in the academic field (courses, projects, works and subjects).
- Promote environmental and social sustainability as the only valid development model.