The University of Passau and 28 German higher education institutions audited by the German Rector’s Conference (HRK) this year were awarded their certificates at a ceremony in Berlin on 1 December. HRK experts assessed the existing and planned institutional strategies, initiatives and structures, making recommendations on how to leverage and develop these to engrain internationalisation deeper within the University.
‘For the University as a whole, it is crucial that we continue to promote internationalism across all organisational units and internationalise our research, knowledge transfer and teaching activities – as well as indeed the services we provide, including how we support our early career researchers’ said President Burkhard Freitag. On 1 December, the University was presented with a certificate for the successful completion of the internationalisation audit and is entitled to carry the corresponding seal.
Vice President for International Relations, Ursula Reutner, who accepted the certificate on behalf of the University, said: ‘Internationalism has always been a hallmark of the University of Passau, which was set up with a firmly international outlook – we are very fortunate to have students and teaching staff who are exceptionally committed to internationalism,’ adding: ‘however, to stay ahead we need to regularly consider where we are in terms of internationalisation at each stage of our university’s development. This audit has provided us with many ideas on how to strategically sharpen our international profile.’
The HRK’s ‘Internationalisation of Universities’ audit is co-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Thus far, 54 higher education institutions (HEIs) have already completed the audit, and 12 HEIs are currently at the auditing stage. An additional five HEIs have already cleared the second auditing stage and were awarded the re-audit certificate, in which external experts advise HEIs on the implementation of the recommendations of the first audit. The award ceremony was held in the Humboldt Carré in Berlin as part of a two-day conference.
Speaking before the event, the HRK's Vice President for International Relations, Dieter Lenzen, emphasised the need for a strategy-led internationalisation process. He also warned that there could not be a one-size-fits-all approach, as every higher education institution is faced with its own set of challenges that arise from its positioning in terms of study, teaching and research, as well as the composition of its student body and its geographical location.
The German Rectors' Conference (HRK = Hochschulrektorenkonferenz in German) is an umbrella organisation of universities and universities of applied sciences and the ‘political and public voice’ of the German higher education sector. Its internationalisation audit programme, initiated in 2009, provides audited HEIs with recommendations on the long-term internationalisation strategy within each institution.