Benchmarking across countries and continents

Partners from Finland, Mexico and Austria attend the IB Quality Workshop

By Julia Hormuth

Quo vadis, BSc International Business? At the beginning of December, representatives of the study programme at ESB Business School exchanged views with colleagues from the International Business programmes of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences (Finland), Mondragón University (Mexico), MCI Innsbruck (Austria) and Harz University (Germany) on the current challenges of study programme management.

For several years, the Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences has regularly organised an ’IB Quality Workshop’. After the event had to take place online for a number of times due to the corona virus, it was now possible to meet on site again for the second time. A total of 13 guests from different countries and continents were invited to ESB Business School in Reutlingen

The topics of this year’s workshop were the recruitment and integration of international students, measures to manage student feedback and trends in international business degree programmes.

Recruiting and successfully integrating international students

As a start, the group discussed the challenges and potential measures for recruiting international students. Tuition fees and declining numbers of applicants pose new challenges for all universities. What can be done about it? The approaches discussed ranged from social media marketing to international ‘student ambassadors’ (student visits to schools abroad) to recruitment agencies.

Once good candidates have been recruited for the degree programme, the next challenge is just around the corner: how can these students be successfully integrated at the university – both socially and academically – and thus ensure their long-term academic success? Social integration events, buddies and intercultural events are already standard at many universities. However, it is also important that international students in particular, who know a different school system, are familiarized with the processes and expectations of the academic world in Germany. To this end, the BSc International Business at ESB Business School has introduced the ‘IB Academic Coaches’ for example: Each international student is coached by a professor in the first semester on the challenges of academic work (e.g., teaching and learning methods, professors’ expectations or exam preparation).  

Students’ perspective

What would a discussion about students be like without their participation? Several international students from the BSc International Business programme were invited to the topic ‘Integration of International Students’ - including students who studied both in Reutlingen and at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Finland. “The students’ perspective is particularly valuable for our discussion. We will keep it that way in the future”, said the workshop organisers.

From Christmas punch to a tour of Werk150

An informal exchange of ideas was not neglected either. It was a good thing that the “Event in Advent” of ESB Business School and the Knowledge Foundation took place on the Wednesday evening to kick off the meeting. This gave the partners an informal start to the discussions over mulled wine, punch and food. A visit to the Reutlingen Christmas market and a dinner together were also a part of the programme.

The guests were impressed by a visit to the ‘Werk150’ learning factory, where Professor Dr Vera Hummel presented the possibilities of research, development and education and further training in a practical and state-of-the-art context.  

Quality monitoring and trends in International Business programmes

Finally, on Friday morning, there was further input from two representatives of ESB Business School. Edeltraut Wetzel provided an insight into the management of student feedback at the School. Professor Dr Elizabeth Hofvenschiöld, who joined the School this semester as Professor of General Business Administration, in particular Strategic Management and Corporate Governance, presented theses on trends and future development of the BSc International Business programme for discussion.

The participants agreed that the workshop was a complete success: “The exchange of ideas and best practices is incredibly rewarding from which every university can benefit. Many innovative ideas and suggestions emerge about what can be implemented in the future. It also strengthens cooperation when people meet not only to exchange information on partnership issues, but also to discuss content and strategy.”

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