Further internationalisation: ‘It’s not a question of if we should, but how’

A globe with the flags of Europe
HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht mainly trains business professionals for the Utrecht region and conducts practice-oriented research into regional matters. However, HU also has a strong international focus. What does this outward view mean for our students and staff? What is in it for us? Board member Wilma Scholte op Reimer: “If you want to realise a target plan such as ours, you cannot only focus on your own region.”

Whether we should internationalise further is not the question, according to Wilma. “The question is: how can we further internationalise? How does an expanded international orientation benefit the HU community?” The world is already well-represented in our community: students of more than one hundred different nationalities work and study at HU. But internationalisation is not primarily about the exchange of people; it is about the exchange of insights and ideas. “Our profile states: working on the quality of living together in an urban environment. Questions surrounding the theme of ‘liveability’ are not unique to the city of Utrecht; they arise everywhere. So it is extremely valuable to work together with other regions and learn from each other. If you have the ambition to realise a target plan such as ours, you cannot just focus on your own region. You have to embrace internationalisation. The international perspective offers different insights, from which both we and our collaboration partners benefit.”

Global Citizens

This does not mean that all of our students should study abroad. Wilma: “The standards in the areas of expertise we train our students on, are international. Because those areas of expertise are international. The challenges they represent do not conform to national borders. So the international aspect can easily be found in education. You will have to deal with it at some point, even if you do not participate in an exchange programme. That being said: our education is not just about teaching qualifications. It is also about the development of people, about personal development. We train people to become global citizens. For many students, experience abroad can be enlightening in that sense. That is why we have an International Office, that puts in a lot of effort for our students and our international profile in terms of education.”


HU’s international profile is also brought to life in CARPE: a European consortium of higher education institutions that work together on research and education. “We work together on substantive projects that are in line with our social goals, but we also learn from each other how to design the most effective form of education. This resulted, for example, in the innovative Smart Sustainable Cities minor,” Erlijn Eweg explains. As programme manager, she is involved with the HU Centre of Expertise Smart Sustainable Cities, which expertise got her involved with CARPE. “In projects such as ESSENCE and SAUNAC, where research into sustainable solutions is intertwined with international education, we build knowledge and capacity to work on innovative solutions.”

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