Erasmus Policy Statement
SPL strengthened its internationalization in 1999 when introducing a compulsory study abroad year for all the 3rd year students.
Students have to choose between 2 options: a whole academic year abroad in a partner university or a semester completed with an international internship. Internationalization is not restricted to students’ exchange but also faculty exchange, dual research programs and dual degrees.
In 2016, deepening internationalization appears evident: 50% of our degreed students enter the international job market.
A. Criteria for choosing our partners:
We select the partner institutions through various criteria, among which the quality of the institutions in the core disciplines of SPL: Social Sciences and Humanities (Political Science, International Relations, EU studies, Economics, Law and History).
Other criteria are the language of teaching, the mobility strategy for students, the possibility to deepen the cooperation through scholars’ exchanges, research programs, etc.
We also care for students’ accommodation even if this is not a priority criterion.
The prior goal of the study year/semester abroad is not linguistic, even if it is part of the experience. The most important is the content of the courses and the programs that are taught. The students have to earn credits in the core disciplines taught at SPL and make progress to reach the level to enter in a Master’s. Thus, we care about the compatibility between the requisites to enter the different Master’s that are offered at SPL and the teaching programs open to our students in the partner institutions.
Since the quality of the teaching is linked to the quality of the research, research programs in the partner institutions are at the centre of our focus to select them.
B. Geographical areas:
Since SPL has a strong focus on European studies we first developed a European strategy, trying to have partners in all
EU and Erasmus member States. All in all, our European partners count for 50% of our partners. We expanded our strategy to non-EU institutions to give satisfaction to our students’ demand.
Currently, we have more than 210 active agreements on all continents, mainly developed taking into account our teaching and research programs. Our geographical approach aims to respond to our programs’ focuses. For instance, with a Master’s in International Commerce and Finance we selected partners in emerging countries.
C. Objectives and target groups:
The objectives of our international strategy are multiple: first, it is about to confront students to other teaching methods and ways to tackle the main issues in our core disciplines; second, it is to give the students a concrete sense of globalization; third, it is to give them opportunities to specialize in cultural/geographical areas linked the disciplines and their carrier prospect;
fourth, it is to improve their linguistic skills (2 foreign languages at least are compulsory).
The year abroad is the climax of this international experience (compulsory for 3rd year students). Moreover students often have an international Master’s internship. Thus, the last semesters of each cycle are concerned (there is no third cycle at SPL).
Besides these objectives, we do not only pursue our internationalization strategy through exchanging students, but also through the internationalization of our curricula. English taught courses (also some German and Spanish taught as well) are delivered at SPL through faculty members in position and also visiting scholars. Thus, our strategy is not to externalize the international experience, but to make of the whole SPL curriculum an international experience.
As regarding staff, we have a program of visiting scholars, inviting each year 20 to 25 professors from partner universities for a teaching period including research projects. The visiting scholars are asked to lecture on their research topics the way they would do at their home institution. Reciprocally, we encourage our faculty members to go teaching abroad. Scholars’ exchanges are always part of the agreements we do conclude.
D. Dual degrees:
SPL has a strong experience in developing dual degrees with three wholly integrated dual programs from the first to the fifth year of the curriculum and three dual Master’s. For all these integrated programs we have a bi-national selection process, an intense cooperation of the administrative and scholar staff on both sides, a bi-national jury to graduate the students. The students alternate the teaching periods in both institutions/countries and develop bi-lingual skills.
The list of the programs is the following:
-Franco-German with WWU Münster (Institut für Politikwissenschaft)
-Franco-British with UoK in Canterbury
-Franco-Spanish with Universidad de Salamanca
The list of dual Master’s:
-Dual Master with Aston U (UK) “Europe and the World”
-Dual Master with Szeged (Hungary) “European Studies - Central and Eastern Europe”
-Dual Master with SAIS (Johns Hopkin U, Bologna Center
SPL’s international strategy fits perfectly into the framework of Erasmus +. The first aim is to offer all the students a one year international experience, either a whole academic year or an academic semester completed with an international internship. In both cases it is a year abroad experience that is part of the curriculum. The year has to be validated with 60 ECTS or equivalents (if with a non-EU institution) and is in the exact middle of the five-year long curriculum: students have two years to be prepared to make the year abroad a success and two more years to benefit of the experience during the Master.
This year abroad is at the centre of SPL’s international strategy because students are individually prepared and accompanied before their departure, and also trained through English taught classes and various teaching experiences given by visiting scholars. After their return to SPL they have to share their experience to the future outgoing students. They have to capitalize on their abroad experience in taking classes delivered by visiting scholars. The pedagogy has been transformed and adapted to international standards: more active pedagogy, small groups, reading seminars, etc. The whole curriculum at SPL has been transformed through the international strategy and in order to make this strategy successful.
All SPL’s staff takes part to the international strategy: the faculty members participate to the outgoing process of the students and welcome international students in their classes and besides they welcome the visiting scholars and integrate them in their classes or research projects; the administrative staff has taken into account the international dimension of SPL by improving their language skills at least in English through in-service training and staff mobility experience.
The crowning of the internationalization strategy is the development of integrated programs and dual degrees. 6 have been put in force since 1999. Students are selected in different countries through bi-national juries, they are mixed together in classes and alternate learning experiences in two countries, two cultures and two languages (at least). Faculty and administrative staff of both institutions are working in close collaboration, meeting at fixed date throughout the academic year. The marks of the students are homogenised through a bi-national board.
All this strategy is undertaken in full respect of the Erasmus+ spirit of non-discrimination, without charging fees for mobility.
Through the Erasmus+ programme we hope to modernize our institution in the following directions:
A. Increasing attainment levels to provide the graduates and researchers Europe needs
International mobility first aims to immerge our students in an international context to open their mind on cultural differences and other research and teaching practices, to improve their language skills and to internalize other ways to discuss and tackle current global issues. Thus the first aim is both intellectual and professional. We expect our students to be more aware of the existence of divergences and differences is the way our taught disciplines are framed and used as tools to understand the way the world is working, so as to understand different positions and discuss them. The benefit is also to permit them to broaden their job perspectives at an international level, but first of all at the European level, by mastering the different existing professional cultures.
Concerning our researchers our aim is to link our scholars to the international network in the different fields of research.
This is already part of our identity since many of our researchers are already members of European and international research networks. But we expect more from this networking with the creation of SPL as a knot in these networks to host some research programmes and international conferences, especially in the field of European studies, Environmental politics, International Political Economics and Conflict resolution and development.
B. Improving the quality and relevance of higher education
We expect that our participation in the Erasmus+ programme will improve the quality of our academic offers and will help us reach international standards in higher education and research. This is for instance the case with the rise of English taught courses that are offered. Moreover, our visiting scholar programme targets the increase of courses in which our students are actively involved. The visiting scholars propose courses and lectures they teach according to their home traditions and practices. Thus, thanks to debates with our staff on pedagogic issues and exchange on good practices, we aim to increase the ability of our students and staffs to adapt to different teaching situations and to different expectations.
C. Strengthening quality through mobility and cross-border cooperation
Student and staff mobility increases the expectations of all the participants of the SPL project, pushing all of us to elevate the quality of our practices from the administration to the research office, student bodies, etc. The role of our cross-border cooperation is particularly notable, and especially the dual degrees which need a close cooperation and the sharing of experiences on both sides of the cooperation. When an issue has to be fixed it has to be done on both sides and needs to take all the positions into account. This improves the ability to cooperate of all the participants.
D. Improving governance and funding
Last, we expect to improve the governance of SPL through our participation in Erasmus+; firstly, by implementing the recommendations of the Erasmus+ Agency, secondly, by the sharing of good practices with our partners, thirdly, through the installation of a board including international personalities from the academic field but also from the business world. We expect the board to provide some guidance in our internationalization policy but also in all other relevant fields to make of SPL a world-class teaching and research university.
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.