IRUAS18: Internationalisation 2.0

The IRUAS Conference 2018 in Olten attracted more than 100 professionals in the field of internationalisation from Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Education has become increasingly internationalised. In Switzerland, the Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts are playing an important role in securing the competitiveness of the country’s economy in a globalised world. The IRUAS Conference 2018 was held from January 25-26 at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland in Olten and organised by the FHNW School of Business International Office Steering Group provided a forum of exchange for professionals from the international offices of Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Robet Buttery standing at the podium
Conference chair Prof. Robert Buttery welcomed the participants in Olten (photo: Barbara Binz).

Conference chair Prof. Robert Buttery of the FHNW School of Business welcomed the guests from all over Switzerland in German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romanic, the Swiss national languages. Prof. Ruedi Nützi, director of the FHNW School of Business, officially opened the conference and highlighted the school’s commitment to internationalisation in his welcome speech.

Challenges & Opportunities

Keynote speaker Prof. Stephan Schmidt from the FHNW School of Music gave an insightful presentation with historical anecdotes on the international tradition of musicians, who have long been transgressing national borders both in their education and in their profession. He also highlighted the challenges that music education specifically faces in a time of rising costs for high-quality education.

The first day of the conference officially concluded with a musical highlight provided by the Chamber Orchestra of the FHNW School of Music. Afterwards, the participants had the opportunity to discover the historic town of Olten and network over dinner.

The musicians of the FHNW Chamber Orchestra
The performance by the FHNW Chamber Orchestra was certainly a highlight (photo: Tanja Vogel).

The next day opened with an address by Prof. Crispino Bergamaschi, President of the FHNW. Prof. Bergamaschi emphasised the importance of an international mind-set and that „internationalisation means openness“. The second keynote speaker was Prof. Markus Laitinen of the University of Helsinki and President of the EAIE (European Association for International Education). Prof. Laitinen reflected on the increased speed of internationalisation in education over the last decade and the many structural challenges that go along with this development.

Prof. Markus Laitinen presented an encompassing perspective on internationalisation in education (photo: Barbara Binz).

In response to these challenges, the University of Helsinki no longer employs a dedicated international office, but has rather made internationalisation a part of the business of all university employees. This radical approach may not be suited for all institutions, but it offered the conference participants a new perspective on the possibilities of dealing with internationalisation.

Lively Workshops & Discussions

The rest of the second conference day was dedicated to specialist workshops in which various aspects of internationalisation in education were discussed. Topics included the use of digital marketing in recruiting international students, foreign government scholarships for Swiss students and researchers, the Erasmus Student Network, and the Swiss bilateral S&T Programme with Asia, among others. The FHNW School of Business also presented their successful International Student Projects, flagships of the school’s international activities.

A discussion between workshop participants
The workshops let participants exchange their experiences on various aspects of internationalisation (photo: Barbara Binz).

The IRUAS Conference 2018 was a resounding success and provided invaluable input for the participants as well as a conducive environment which catalysed the exchange of ideas and experiences. The new workshop format especially encouraged lively discussions and provided valuable insights. It was a great event overall and we look forward to participating in the 2019 IRUAS Conference at the Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil.

Further Information

IRUAS18 webpage with downloadable presentations

Photo gallery


Prof. Robert Buttery

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