Internationalisation Business and Engineering
Original version in german from Prof. Dr. Elke Stadelmann
In 2018, the first graduates of our English-taught programmes Bachelor of Business and Engineering and Bachelor of Logistics received their Bachelor’s degree: a milestone for internationalisation of the Faculty of Business and Engineering (FWI) and a pilot project for FHWS. We look back and give an insight into our future strategy.
Since the winter semester 2014/15, the Faculty of Business and Engineering has offered four bachelor’s programmes: in addition to Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen and Logistik, the new programmes Business and Engineering and Logistics were added for the first time. The Faculty has thus “twinned” the existing bachelor’s programmes and offers them with almost identical content in English. With this twin concept, students are also able to complete individual lectures or practical projects by attending them in the programme offered in the other language and thus, under certain conditions, obtain a TWIN Certificate in addition to their bachelor’s certificate. This certificate certifies intercultural and multilingual education and can thus make it easier for students to enter the world of work. According to a study by the German Economic Institute in Cologne and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), companies with 250 or more employees are looking for graduates with excellent intercultural and linguistic skills. (1)
How it all began
In 2013, a small working group headed by the then Dean Prof. Dr. Uwe Sponholz came together and developed their vision of the future. Two goals were pursued: Firstly, FWI students were to be optimally prepared for the challenges of the increasingly global working world in an international environment.. Secondly, the aim was to meet the demand of regional and national companies to recruit and train qualified young people in the MINT subjects from abroad as a measure against the impending shortage of skilled workers due to demographic change (2).
The Twin concept emerged, for which FHWS won the “MINTernational” award endowed with 250,000 euros of the Stifterverband, a joint initiative started by companies and foundations devoted to improvements in the fields of education, science and innovation (3). In addition to FHWS, in Bavaria the Technical University of Munich and the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt now offer bachelor’s programmes in MINT subjects completely in English (4). However, the Twin concept for programmes with identical content in the German and the English programme is still unique and thus the unique selling point of FHWS. After the pilot project at the Faculty of Business and Engineering, other FHWS faculties followed suit with English-language bachelor’s and master’s programmes. In the winter semester 2017/18, the TWIN Programme Mechatronics also started in Schweinfurt.
As always with projects that involve large changes, huge challenges had to be overcome. FHWS promoted the new degree programmes at fairs abroad. The higher education entrance qualifications of degrees obtained in countries such as Moldova or Australia had to be examined, the recognition of previous academic achievements in countries such as Vietnam or Ghana had to be assessed. The FHWS International Office developed an orientation programme. Cooperation with the Foreigners Authority was intensified. Forms, study regulations, parts of the FHWS website had to be translated. Language courses were created and an international regulars’ table (Stammtisch) offered. FHWS staff in the Dean’s Office or in the Department of Student Affairs (HSST) were required to provide students with information in English as well. Initially without any additional personnel resources, the subjects had to be taught in English to students who were used to a different form of teaching and learning in their home country. All this was only possible with the cooperation of all FHWS staff from several faculties and administrative departments without whom this effort would not have been possible.
Stocktaking: quantity and quality
Where is our Faculty today? The number of first-year students in the English-taught programmes Business and Engineering, and Logistics has risen continuously from 60 at the beginning of the winter semester 2014/15 to 119 in the winter semester 2017/18. A total of 295 students from 67 countries, from A like Algeria to Z like Zambia, will be studying in the two English-taught degree programmes in the winter semester 2017/18. That is approx. 20% of all FWI students. Lecturers tell us that there are clear differences between the students. While in the German-taught programmes the academic achievements can be shown in a typical Gauss curve - some very good, the majority average, some very poor students - the gap in the English-taught programmes is widening: there are very good students, the middle field is thinned out and there are a number of students who are hardly up to the demands. Accordingly, some have already packed their bags and given up their studies because either they decided themselves to do so, or they were automatically de-registered.
Taking a look into the future
Even after three years of English-taught degree programmes, great challenges remain, which must be mastered in the future. Three very important initiatives should be mentioned here:
1. Safeguarding the teaching quality and ensuring a close connection to the working world: This is a continuous challenge for both the German- as well as English-taught degree programmes. After internationalisation, students need to be better prepared for their careers through digital offerings and intensified project work - both in cooperation with industrial partners and international partner institutions.
2. Internationalisation@Home: The Faculty of Business and Engineering brought the world to Schweinfurt. The potential of students from more than 60 countries studying together in Schweinfurt can be utilised even more than before. Without having to go abroad, students can experience the cultural and linguistic diversity of the world in Schweinfurt. The new buildings and areas of the i-Campus on the former site of the US Ledward Barracks are intended to create meeting places and sports facilities for this purpose and thus encourage especially all those students to spend more time there who come from the immediate vicinity, but so far have only come for their courses and left afterwards.
only a hindrance. But is not by chance that many companies with diversity management have come to the conclusion that heterogeneous groups can be more innovative than homogeneous groups (5). At FHWS, students learn the intercultural and multilingual behaviour they will need later in their careers. Guest lecturers from foreign partner universities, who come to our Faculty every semester, also contribute to this. This is also to be intensified: from 4 to 8 June 2018, there will be an International Week across all FHWS faculties for the first time, during which guest lecturers from all regions of the world will also teach at the Faculty of Business and Engineering (FWI).
3. Expanding cooperation with partner university in exchange opportunities, teaching and research. Existing cooperations are to be intensified and new attractive partnerships abroad established. To this end, our Faculty has divided responsibility for university contacts among several pairs of shoulders and appointed individual contact persons who maintain regular contact with the respective partner university and sound out possible cooperation, such as exchange opportunities for students and lecturers and cooperation in teaching and research. Currently, about 30% of FWI bachelor’s students spend one semester abroad during their studies. In absolute figures, since 2012 about 50 FWI students per year have decided to spend a semester abroad. In return, our Faculty accepts approx. 45 students per year from partner universities for one to two exchange semesters. In addition, there are other FWI students who decide to do an internship abroad and thus acquire international competence. These numbers should be increased so that students can spend their time abroad with maximum benefit and have as many FHWS modules as possible recognised.
For all these goals and projects, our Faculty continues to need helping heads and hands. Everyone who feels connected to FWI is invited to contribute ideas, contacts or activities. Contact via the International Affairs Officer elke.stadelmann[at]fhws.de.
(1) see Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst 2016
(2) MINT = Mathematik, Informatik, Naturwissenschaft, Technik; equals STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
(3) see MINTernational: Was Talente aus aller Welt anzieht
(4) see DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst
Bibliography (in German)
Becker, Monika (2016): Vielfalt zahlt sich aus. In: Personalwirtschaft (01), S. 58–59. DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. Online verfügbar unter www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/in-ternational-programs/en/, zuletzt geprüft am 21.07.2017. Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (2016). Online verfügbar unter www.iwconsult.de/referenzen/case-studys/deut-scher-akademischer-austauschdienst/, zuletzt aktualisiert am 15.03.2016, zuletzt geprüft am 21.07.2017. MINTernational: Was Talente aus aller Welt anzieht. Online verfügbar unter www.stifterverband.org/video/minternati-onal_was_talente_aus_aller_welt_anzieht, zuletzt geprüft am 21.07.2017