“Education is our passport to the future”; internationalized and internationally competitive education is our passport to a flourishing future. In Latvia which is one of the fastest growing EU economies, Riga Conference ‘Internationalization of Higher Education” has aroused interest from media, universities and governments in finding ways to the future of its education in a global market.
‘supported by the EU Interreg 4 A Central Baltic programme, as part of the Expat Project, the conference aims to raise awareness and attention of decision makers on the possibilities offered by the internationalization of higher education in the context of economic growth’, one of the main organizers Emils Rode indicated.
‘For Latvia higher education system, it is necessary not only to increase the number of students, but also to introduce intercultural environment,’ Prof. Marcis Auzins, the rector of University of Latvia , explained: ‘Starting to get to know foreigners from a young age will make it easier to work with people from different culture later.’
Dr. Frank Kraushaar, Head of Asian Studies Department of University of Latvia stated: 'An open academic environment is significant for Latvia to integrate international community that knows and respects its members, regardless of their political and economic power.’
|Mikko Toivonen (right) addressed challenges students face while settling in.|
Facing almost similar challenges, National Taiwan University from afar applies different strategies. Professor Hsinyu Lee, Deputy Dean of International Affairs presented their internationalization plans: during freshman and sophomore years, oversea students are required to study general Chinese classes for at least one year; during junior and senior years, most of department required courses are offered in Chinese. The university also has regional target: from developed countries, they accept students majoring in liberal arts, social science and political science; from developing countries, they accept students majoring in civil engineering, computer science, agriculture and technology.
After the conference, guests from afar were wandering in the beautiful Riga Old Town. They exclaimed: "Riga is such a charming city!" Indeed, despite international students are less than one percent of locals now, this city and this country have the potential to become more international and catch up with the rest of Central Baltic Sea Regions. “To achieve that, cooperation and learning from each other is preconditions for regional growth. And this is why The Expat-project is here!” exclaimed Ms. Christine Chang, the project manager of the Expat-project, Uusimaa Regional Council.
Videos of speaker sessions available at: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxc2e81TLgVTKN5RXemc9ro5TGBdqzndm