The internationalisation of education is a superior aim of international relations among higher education institutions, but it is not considered as a goal in itself, but rather a means to improve and promote the quality of teaching, learning and research.
The acquisition of knowledge, the mobilisation of talent, applied research and the sharing of curricula among partner institutions are considered key advantages of higher education internationalisation.
Internationalisation necessarily involves institutional change and improvement, and contributes for the development of skills required in the 21st century, while stimulation innovation and the creation of alternatives for sustainable development, by ultimately fostering jobs that contribute for quality of life. However, the present economic circumstances require a more detailed analysis of the tangible benefits of internationalisation for European economy and societies.
Currently, internationalisation is comprised of two aspects that complement each other. On the one hand, it can help students to reach their goal of high quality education and to be part of differentiating research projects, giving them the chance to try out experimental learning in a "real world and in real time", with interactions and procedures that cannot be merely taught. On the other hand, institutions may thus gain an international reputation, positioning themselves on the front line of the international higher education community. There are several reasons to internationalise and institution. At ISEC Lisboa, we highlight the importance of: 1. Improving students' preparation; 3. Internationalising curricula and syllabi; 3. Improving the international reputation of the institution; 4. Increasing scientific and research production; 5. Developing scientific and pedagogical knowledge; 5. Diversifying the academic community (teachers, staff and students).
At ISEC Lisboa, there is consensual belief that internationalisation can, as part of a wider strategy, offer students and teachers valuable benefits in the development of their skills and competencies. It can also stimulate strategic thinking leading to innovation and the facilitation of procedures that ensure quality and technological development. With the introduction of internationalisation in the culture of higher education, academic communities can achieve more awareness of global issues that are important for humankind, as it transcends countries, cultures and languages.
Internationalisation has a key role in ISEC Lisboa's Strategic Development Plan and it is accomplished through the Office for International Relations (GRI), which coordinates, supervises and gives operational support to international cooperation initiatives related to education, scientific research and academic mobility.
Internationalisation is a crosswise priority for the different projects and activities taking place at the Institute, from the offer of courses to R&D practice, as well as social responsibility initiatives. Internationalisation is a key factor in the institution's Strategic Development Plan.
The main assignments of the Office for International Relations (GRI) are: the development of collaboration strategies between higher education institutions and companies, inside and outside the European borders, within the programmes of mobility for students and teachers; the development of international cooperation R&D activities; and the support and coordination of exchange and mobility of students, teachers and staff.
The accomplishment of our Strategic Policy for Internationalisation is mainly related with the establishment of key partnerships with European nations, Portuguese-speaking countries and Latin American countries, with the following main goals: (i) improvement of academic and quality norms; (ii) integration in cooperation networks for education / training and R&D; (iii) increased international visibility of ISEC Lisboa and its academic community; (iv) improvement of competencies and technical and scientific qualifications, as well as cultural enrichment derived from exchange and mobility experiences; (v) diversification of recruiting sources for teachers and students.
The choice of partners for the implementation of the internationalisation strategy is based on the preference given to the establishment of protocols with institutions and organisations whose fields of study and action are the same as those of ISEC Lisboa.
The priority in our choice of partners is based on the potential of concrete, effective cooperation activities, and of involvement with partners from geographical regions of interest for the accomplishment and reinforcement of our internationalization projects.
One of the pillars for the accomplishment of our Internationalisation Policy is the ERASMUS+ European Programme.Integration efforts within the European Higher Education Area, and recognition of the importance of international cooperation in terms of European policies have granted ISEC Lisboa unique opportunities, such as the conferral of the Erasmus Charter for Higher Education 2007, and of the Extended Erasmus University Charter in 2009, and our application for the Erasmus Charter 2021-2027 is under way. Within the Erasmus Programme, we have established 40 bilateral agreements with higher education institutions in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Spain, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania and Turkey.
The establishment of international partnerships with Portuguese-speaking nations and Latin American countries has also been of great relevance for ISEC Lisboa's project for internationalisation. Up to the present moment, about 20 cooperation protocols have been signed, namely in Brazil, Mexico, Macau and Angola.
An international mobility experience allows for an exchange of cultures and practices that are extraordinarily enriching for students. In 2019/2020 there were 302 foreign students at ISEC, which comprises about 20% of our student population, thus turning our CAMPUS into an international, multicultural environment.
The globalisation of contemporary society requires networking, which results in huge synergetic gains, and the same can be said of belonging to international Networks and Associations. In 2020, ISEC Lisboa is a member of ten different International Networks and Associations.
PROMOTION OF DIGITAL MOBILITY
Digital Mobility (DM) is a strong bet of ISEC Lisboa towards putting an end to the constraints felt by students who want to have an international mobility experience.
DM aims to increase internationalisation experiences, multicultural learning and the development of linguistic competencies and joint work in transnational projects across the globe.
Through digital platforms – which ISEC Lisboa is strongly committed with – the multiple digital tools allow for distant sharing of experiences in real time, and for the fostering of synergies towards the development of common projects among the different partners. Mobility through digital CAMPI also allows students and staff from different nationalities to connect and share learning and good practice experiences in real time, in a way that is accessible to all the publics, regardless of their specific constraints.
In 2020/21, internal procedures will be established, in order to implement DM as from 2021/22. Among the actions that will take place in 2020/21, we highlight the following:
- Establishment of DM partnerships;
- Definition of learning outcomes, and outcomes of DM competency development;
- Definition of automatic recognition procedures for DM results;
- Definition of procedures and application calendar for DM for 2021/22;
Digital Mobility intends to establish itself as a gateway for an international experience that might be free from the economic, social and family costs associated with physical mobility.
Moreover, this objective is connected with the aim, established by ISEC Lisboa for the coming years, of fully adopting e-learning and/or b-learning methods and digital mobility, as a way of committing to innovation and modernisation, in accordance with the new teaching and learning paradigms, thus contributing for the facilitation of the construction of a European (and global) Education Environment which is common, open, accessible and transparent.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRACTICES
For us, sustainability is a key concept and, within it, environmental sustainability is a transverse goal in all our actions. We accomplish it through the following:
- (i) daily activities carried out by the Office for Social Responsibility (GRS);
- (ii) our membership in the Network of Sustainable Campuses (which involves about 30 Portuguese HEI);
- (iii) our commitment to the Principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
- (iv) daily education practices concerning the preservation of the Environment, both in the curricula of our courses, and in several free courses;
In the context of the ERASMUS+ Programme, the following environment sustainability practices are worthy of reference:
- In different moments throughout the year, organization of sessions for sharing and debate about topics related with Ethics for sustainability and enhancement of Environmental Practices and consumer behaviour, destined for students and staff, both incoming and outgoing;
- Adoption of all the principles inherent to ERASMUS Without Paper, which, apart from responding to the challenges of the digital era, also intends to include more environmentally friendly procedures.
- Adoption, in all our internal procedures, of the maximization of digital tools and the minimization of paper consumption, as well as continuous efforts towards awareness of daily sustainable practices, and promotion of that awareness among incoming and outgoing participants;
- Incorporation, in all the steps of mobility (before, during and after) of environmentally friendly practices.
Promoting social awareness and responsibility, as well as active and responsible citizenship, is a pillar of conduct of our organisation. Aware of the relevance of this, ISEC Lisboa has always observed these fundamental principles in its institutional mission: “ISEC's mission is to promote the whole fulfilment of individuals through the development of teaching and research with high quality standards, adopting an individualizing view of Man, and awareness of social responsibility. This mission is fulfilled through the conception, transmission and dissemination of professional culture and knowledge, according to high standards and exigency, while promoting cooperation and awareness of the social and humane dimension of citizenship”.
In order to operationalize and develop a sense of social responsibility and commitment to active citizenship among the academic community, the GRS - Office for Social Responsibility conducts several activities towards that end, in compliance with the SOCIAL CHARTER OF ISEC Lisboa and with its SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY POLICY.
The whole community (students, teachers, staff, external partners, etc.) is involved in multiple activities organised by the GRS throughout the year. Therefore, all incoming and outgoing participants are invited and encouraged to take part in these activities (before, during and after the mobility). These activities are of different types:
- (i) Voluntary service programmes for non-governmental organisations;
- (ii) Solidarity campaigns;
- (iii) Support to populations in need;
- (iv) Campaigns for environmental sustainability and responsible consumer behaviour;
- (v) Senior Students Solidarity Campaign;
- (vi) Organisation of an annual SOCIAL MARKET, whose profit accrues to solidarity associations, etc…
In the interest of promoting active citizenship and civic commitment from incoming and outgoing students, the following aspects should be highlighted:
- (vii) Availability, in the Course Catalogue for mobility, of curricular units related with Ethics and Deontology in different courses offered by ISEC Lisboa, where the above principles are under focus;
- (viii) ISEC Lisboa is involved in the European research project “Learning to Be”, funded by the Erasmus+ Programme, within Key Action 3 (https://learningtobe.net/), which aims to conceive evaluation methods and tools towards the development of social and emotional competencies in education schools, thus contributing for the definition of public policies for the improvement of quality in education as well as social cohesion and fundamental values of a democratic society. The obtained results were thoroughly disclosed among our academic community.