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The internationalization of the University, a strategic priority for the future

The internationalization of the University, a strategic priority for the future

UPF has given the green light for the process to design a ten-year strategic plan for internationalization to steer its transformation and its main international initiatives and projects.



Yesterday evening, the auditorium of the Ciutadella campus hosted an event to initiate the process for the design of a ten-year strategic plan for internationalization to steer the university’s transformation and its main international initiatives and projects.

The event, presided by Jaume Casals, UPF rector, and Isabel Valverde, vice-rector for internationalization projects, enjoyed the participation of Francis Vérillaud, vice-president of Sciences Po Paris (2002-2018) and head of the institution’s internationalization strategy since 1995. The guest speaker gave the inaugural lecture launching the strategic plan, entitled “The challenges of globalization in higher education: what is at stake?”.

Isabel Valverde, at the opening of the event, explained that “internationalization is one of the University’s strategic projects and the main goal of promoting the creation of a strategic plan is to position UPF in the world”. “We are at a time of a paradigm shift, in which the world, thanks to technological changes, has become small and global at the same time, and the University has to adapt and set itself apart in this context”, she said.

Jaume Casals, for his part, said that “UPF has decided to put internationalization at the heart of its strategy, beyond student mobility, also by applying to it to other teaching, research and knowledge transfer activities”. “We universities are institutions that have served for nation-building, but we are aware that our responsibility is broader and we want to have a global perspective to be relevant worldwide”, he added. Finally, he recalled that “it is a statement of values and we are well positioned -we are smaller and more agile than the universities around us- to be able to affirm that UPF’s internationalization is and can be very profound”.

Francis Vérillaud shares his extensive experience with the UPF community

Excerpts from the lecture

“In little over 25 years things have changed a lot. In 1995 no one was aware of the phenomenon of globalization and the consequences it would bring to the world of higher education”.

“Over the years we have evolved, we have gone from talking about foreign students at our universities to talking about branding, international double bachelor’s degrees, alliances, international partners... But I’m not sure we can say that the world is better in the field of higher education, the situation is far tenser than before”.

 ”To be leaders again, and specifically in the field of internationalization, we must be very clear about who we are as an institution and what values we have and represent us”.

“There are several motivations that can influence the creation of an internationalization strategy: to increase the quality of the university, to improve the financial solvency of the institution or to create an international alumni network” “The university must decide on which scale it is internationalizing, it must choose well which are the most important areas for the internationalization strategy, and this is no easy task”.

“To be internationally attractive we must have competitive programmes that are comparable with other institutions. And they should be programmes in English, this is an indispensable condition” “It is also important that the services offered by the university are high quality and that, contrary to what some institutions do, they are integrated. That is to say, they do not specifically differentiate between local students and international students” “An international marketing strategy must be developed, students and teachers will not come to your university just because. There is a lot of competition and if you don’t have a clear strategy you will not attract the talent you’re looking for”.

“But we must be very careful of how to carry out this international marketing strategy because it may call into question the university’s very identity”.

“The marketing strategy must be accompanied by a policy of partnerships, essential to increase the institution’s visibility and attractiveness. This is one of the most powerful tools for promoting the university and for building a reputation beyond your borders”.

“The role of local students who go on an exchange is also very relevant; they are the best ambassadors of the university. They help to substantiate the quality of the institution and create trust”.

A voice of authority in the field of higher education internationalization

Francis Vérillaud has been a consultant of the Institut Montaigne in Paris since June 2018. His mission is to assist the institution in its internationalization and its integration into the circle of the best known think-tanks worldwide.

He worked at Sciences Po Paris from 1991 until 2018, where he was director of International Affairs and Exchanges from 1995. In 2002 he was appointed vice-president of the institution commissioned to devise its internationalization strategy.

Before going to Sciences Po, Francis Vérillaud held various offices at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs including positions in Washington and in Santiago de Chile. He was also made a Knight of the Ordre des Palmes académiques and of the National Order of the Legion of Honour.