First International Week at UAS TW: An enriching experience

Under the motto “Technology Connects People” (TCP), the first International Week was held at UAS Technikum Wien from May 23 – 27, 2016. One of the objectives of this week of concentrated exchange was to intensify collaboration with our key partners. Another aim was to strengthen the personal relationships between the representatives of the partner universities and with our colleagues from the study centers. To this end, 21 colleagues from 11 partner universities in Brazil, Argentina, Russia, Portugal, Finland, Ireland and Germany met in Vienna, mostly at bright sunshine.

What was the purpose of that week?  

Following an analysis of all partner universities in the course of the 2014/15 academic year, the areas of student and staff mobility as well as research were evaluated, and specific universities emerged as partners for each study center. These were invited upon our colleagues’ request in order to continue and intensify already existing collaboration.  

Rector Fritz Schmöllebeck gave the opening address introducing his ideas on the subject of the week, i.e. how technology connects people. This was followed by a presentation by the Center for International Relations (CIR), its head Sandra Allmayer and her deputy Agnes Kriz, who spoke about a new orientation of internationalization. They stated that this new orientation required a complete change of perspective regarding internationalization – from “internationalization at home” and the importance of teaching staff mobility through to international learning outcomes in the individual curriculums. Before meeting for dinner at the Esterhazykeller restaurant, Eugene Quinn, who is famous for his Vienna Ugly Tours, took our guests on a tour of Vienna, showing them non-standard sites and aspects of Smart City Vienna.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the study centers were free to offer a programme at their discretion. On Tuesday morning, the study centers of Communication Technologies and Electronic Engineering and of Information Technologies & Business Solutions presented their study programs, facutlies, and topics such as e-learning and usability; on Wednesday, presentations were held by the Engineering & Environmental Technologies and the Life Science Technologies study centers, focusing on renewable energies, biomedical engineering and sports equipment technologies. During these two days, our guest were given insight into UAS Technikum Wien's projects and labs, and in the afternoons also had the opportunity to put specific ideas for collaboration in concrete terms. Based on the double degree in software engineering, for instance, the option of a PhD at the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA) was discussed and finalized, and the successful study trip of the international engineering course to Brazil and Argentina was presented and discussed.

On Corpus Christi, a bus took us to Dürnstein, where we visited the ruin of Dürnstein Castle after taking a tour of the town. At lunch, which we had on the terrace of the “Richard Löwenherz” restaurant, joint activities and specific differences at the individual faculties in terms of workflows and processes were discussed in a relaxed atmosphere. We all had breakfast together at Hansen, which marked the end of this successful and rewarding week, during which mutual trust was strengthened by working together and making plans for the future. At the closing ceremony, certificates were awarded and the final pictures with our guests were taken.

What's next?  
During the summer, meetings will be held between the CIR and the four study centers in order to discuss and plan the centers' international orientation. By focusing on a selected number of partner universities, it is not only intended to improve the quality of internationalization by intensifying and expanding successful partnerships, but also to use synergies and resources in a targeted manner, creating distinct added value for all stakeholders. Eventually our students will benefit from clear mobility processes, the choice of a variety of successful university partnerships, and numerous options for acquiring cross-cultural skills.

What have we learned from this International Week at UAS TW?
That a university's international orientation has for quite some time not been just a desired side effect, but is the very precondition for making a university competitive and successful both at national and international level.