Learning From Each Other Across Borders – International Cooperation of Universities in the Time of Corona
On September 10, 2020, the university management of TH Wildau and Karelia University of Applied Sciences (Joensuu/Finland) met for a strategy meeting. Since the in-person on site meeting in Joensuu could not be held as originally planned (due to Corona), TH Wildau President, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Tippe, and her counterpart, President Dr. Petri Raivo, communicated online. In addition to discussing experiences related to handling the Corona pandemic, the online meeting focused on the strategic orientation of the two universities of applied sciences.
Many Similarities Lead to Similar Challenges
If one compares the two universities of applied sciences, overlaps are quickly apparent: founded in 1992, Karelia University of Applied Sciences is just one year younger than TH Wildau. Karelia‘s seven faculties also have course specialisations in economics and engineering. And the number of students, at around 3,700, is also comparable to the number of students at TH Wildau. Joensuu and Wildau have a further commonality in their future orientation. Both universities are currently in a strategy-building process, which also includes the topic of internationalisation as a focal point.
TH Wildau President Prof. Dr. Ulrike Tippe: "With Karelia we have a close partner who works on the same challenges with many structural and content-related similarities. What could be more natural than to network closely and exchange ideas and learn from each other at all levels, from students and teachers to the administration?"
Constant Exchange for Many Years
During the conversation it became clear that both universities already cooperate in many areas. The partnership, which was initiated in 2002 by a continued lively exchange in the field of “Business and Administration”, now includes not only student, lecturer and administrative exchanges but also cooperation in the application and implementation of joint projects.
In particular, the exchange of lecturers from both universities has been actively and successfully practiced for many years. One example of this is the cooperation between Daniela Schultz from TH Wildau’s Language Centre and Kaija Sankila on the Finnish side, who have been organizing the regular reciprocal exchange of lecturers since 2010. In addition to the transfer of knowledge in methodology and didactics in the area of “German as a foreign language (DaF) teaching”, the guests are also invited to visit the Centre and take over part of the teaching. Since 2015, they have also been organising an annual trip to Wildau for a group of Karelia students, who not only attend specialised classes and language courses but also promote intercultural understanding. The "Diary" of a group of Karelia students who visited the TH Wildau in October 2019 provides an impression of this exchange.
New Ideas and Projects
However, the three-hour online meeting was not only used to exchange what had been achieved. Rather, new approaches and ideas were discussed. For example, the president of TH Wildau suggested a possible conference on university governance: "It was not only Corona that showed how important it is for universities to be able to react quickly and effectively to current challenges. We are always open to new ideas that help us achieve our goals". A suitable occasion for developing ideas and initiating such an exchange is the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the founding of TH Wildau in 2021. "We are pleased to welcome many of our partner universities back to Wildau for our anniversary. It only makes sense to combine the useful with the pleasant and to work on the content as well".
In addition, there are current projects for language teaching in the context of the subjects studied as well as for the supervision and integration of international students. Cooperation and joint applications for project funds are sought here. The meeting was thus a further step in the course of a fruitful partnership.
Centre for International Affairs:
Contact Person TH Wildau, International Affairs:
Dr. Johannes Görbert
Zentrum für Internationale Angelegenheiten
Hochschulring 1, 15745 Wildau
Tel. +49 (0) 3375 508 851
Contact Persons, Press and Media Communication:
Mike Lange / Mareike Rammelt
Hochschulring 1, 15745 Wildau
Tel. +49 (0)3375 508 211 / -669