Erasmus Policy Statement
Mälardalen University’s International Strategy
Mälardalen University (MDH) has a strong profile of coproduction with society, trade, industry and public sector, with many years of experience in developing working methods within that setting. The aim of the university is to produce, with its partners, outputs for societal benefit and value for all. This ambition covers all the different layers and activities within the university from basic and advanced education to doctorial education and research. The university commits in its strategy to deliver research and knowledge for the benefit of society and strongly believes that this concept also can be very successful in an international setting.
It is clearly stated in our strategy that the university will focus on developing a selected few strategic partnerships so that deep, broad and varied partnerships can emerge that will provide a platform for a number of international activities and projects. Our selection of strategic partners is based primarily on their commitment to coproduction/cooperation with society, trade, industry and public sector as well as their international engagement. Partner companies like ABB and Volvo are currently identifying their preferred partners for talent and research worldwide, MDH is a preferred partner to both companies, and the university will connect to these selected partners to create a platform for cooperation that permits knowledge exchange around the world within a defined group. The university has decided upon selection criteria for strategic partners as well as for the basic exchange agreements and the procedure for agreements ensures that the leadership is involved and that all the agreements fit with the university’s overall vision and strategy. The strategic partnerships are meant to cover many subject areas and areas of cooperation while the basic agreements are purely subject oriented and selected from their capacity to deliver education relevant for the students they are intended for.
The university has decided that primary geographical areas for cooperation are the European Union, adjacent areas to the European Union, like the Balkan area and Turkey, India, Thailand and South America. In India the focus is on 3 urban areas; Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
The university aims to offer the possibility to study abroad in all the degree programmes on bachelor and master level. The number of incoming students on the bachelor level is good but the university aims to increase its outgoing students. The exchange on the master level is better balanced but could increase in both directions. Mobility builds long lasting relations between institutions, companies and organisations that will open up for other types of cooperation and joint projects.
Due to the close cooperation with industry and public sector students have the opportunity to do case studies, projects and degree projects/papers in company/organisational settings. It also exposes students to organisational culture and gives them intercultural competence. The aim of the university is to further add to these opportunities.
Staff exchange is important especially between faculty staff since that brings a lot to the non-mobile students and also helps to develop the inter-institutional partnerships. The university has joint/double/multiple degree agreements with partners inside of the European Union and outside. The university has a few short cycle international cooperations that are a good solution for non-mobile students. One joint course with students from different countries, working together using virtual tools and with at short get together at the end of the course where all meet, is a very good alternative for students to widen their international perspective without the mobility. The university therefore plans to introduce more cooperations of this kind.
The requirements put on institutions of HE in the EU – 2020 agenda, in Horizon 2020 and in the Modernisation agenda for higher education in Europe, it becomes clear that MDH has already reached a number of those requirements and with the possibilities offered by being part of this programme will fulfil even more. The university has the opportunity to demonstrate that its concept is a valuable addition in the much needed diversity among HE institutions.
Our International Cooperation Projects and Erasmus+
The mobility opportunities will give possibilities to have exchanges in organised networks that extend outside of the EU which before was difficult to arrange. The new possibility of cooperation with businesses is very interesting for a university with our kind of profile and the university will further look forward to explore this possibility. It will facilitate for the joint cooperation with universities and companies that the university has established and wants to additionally develop. The university also looks forward to work with the joint degree part of the programme. Some of the double degrees that are currently running are ready for that next step. The University has been quite active in Tempus and Erasmus Mundus and with the new programme it is clear that some adjustment of existing co-operations in these areas is going to be needed. There is an internal support structure in place for advice and help with both the content and on the financial side.
Participation in Erasmus+ and its Impact on the Modernisation of Mälardalen University
1. Attainment is something the university is working with and wants to increase. Every year there is a goal set on how many should graduate each year from each intake. Reasons for why students leave their education before graduation are investigated through interviews. Support systems to catch them before they leave are to some extent in place and others planned. Bringing in highly motivated international students has a positive effect on the native students and raises the performance level. The programme also gives opportunities to bring in students that may/will stay on.
2. International cooperation in general enhances quality since the comparison that the education and the procedures suddenly are exposed to often leads to changes and amendments. The university has a number of Branch Councils where faculty meet with representatives of future employers. Discussions in these groups ensure that the education offered by the university is relevant to society. Over 80% of graduates from MDH have a job relevant to their education one year after graduation. The university will continue to work and further develop the cooperation with future employers nationally and internationally to ensure quality and relevance.
3. Faculty mobility, cooperation in projects and joint/double/multiple degrees give insights in how others work and the opportunity to learn as well as to compare working methods, education content, choices of literature, pedagogy etc. This kind of exposure often leads to amendments and changes which usually have a positive effect on quality. With the focus on working in depth with selected strategic partners the university will increase the number of close co-operations and thus have more opportunities to reassess its internal procedures and delivery. International competitiveness will increase.
4. With its longstanding tradition of coproduction/cooperation with society, trade, industry and public sector the university has the platform for knowledge exchange. There is ample proof of its value for regional development and the university will continue together with its partners to work in this way, further develop the methodology and look for new opportunities. In developing the concept and taking it abroad in cooperation with international partner universities, involving companies and organisations in their regions, the contribution and impact will become even larger.
5. The extra funding from the EU for international cooperation is very valuable. It allows projects and cooperations that otherwise would be unlikely and that can have impacts on governance and give access to additional funding. The EU funding also gives the university the possibility to contribute to development on a national level, on the EU level and internationally. Impact on governance in general is fragmental except for in areas connected to internationalisation. The national impact on the overall governance is much stronger.