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FORINT: an internationalisation story

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The FORINT project has worked to develop the internationalisation capacities in Cuba and Panama, and can be a useful model for other regions too.

KEY FACTS ABOUT THE PROJECT:

  • Running since 2016 to improve internationalisation in universities in Cuba and Panama.
  • Sessions attended by over 200 stakeholders from 8 universities and the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education.
  • Focused on holistic growth so that all stakeholders in the institution understand internationalisation.
  • Case study book available in Spanish to help other institutions in the region learn from the project.

Universities tend to see internationalisation in one of two ways. Either it’s cosmetic – a tool to add international flavour to university strategy, or it’s a constraint imposed from outside: an obligation we fulfil only to pacify international accreditation agencies. However, this approach is reductive. Internationalisation shouldn’t be seen as an exercise in counting passports. Done right, it is a rewarding process which can help all the components of an institution learn to think and act internationally. It allows the university to develop, reinforce its image and engage in new collaboration opportunities.

FORINT

 

Latin America has a mixed record when it comes to internationalising education. Although Cuban and Panamanian universities are involved in international networks, they tend to have quite limited cooperation with their European counterparts entailing only sporadic academic mobility, with a small number of faculty members participating in short-term exchange programmes. What holds the internationalisation strategies back are factors such as a lack of knowledge about other institutions and their programmes, lack of resources or the predominant monolingual use of Spanish.

EFMD manages four EU-funded projects in Latin America and has been leading management education efforts in the region over the last 15 years, contributing significantly to promoting Latin American higher education all over the world.

EFMD has set up four capacity-building projects to focus on:

– management education techniques (FORGEC);

– entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation (Programa de Intercambio de Expertos Cuba-UE II);

– impact evaluation of the 3rd mission (the contribution of the university to the development of its local environment) of the university (IMPALA) and

– internationalisation (FORINT).

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The International Projects department at EFMD designed the project FORINT to stimulate the cooperation between Cuban and Panamanian universities and their European counterparts. More specifically, the project is working together with the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education, and with eight universities in Cuba and Panama, to strengthen their internationalisation capacities. FORINT guides institutions through the process of internationalisation and supports them as they redefine their internationalisation strategies and apply these more effectively.

Over the last three years, thanks to the project FORINT, we organised seminars and capacity-building activities for over 200 professors, senior managers and administrative officers. Rather than presenting internationalisation as an external obligation, FORINT has worked to ensure that all parts of these institutions understand the wider benefits and are engaged in the whole process.

The long and intense efforts made by the partners started to pay off recently with tangible results: the increased visibility of the participating institutions with a portal presenting the academic offer in Cuba and Panama, the participation at the 2019 European Association for International Education annual conference or the approbation of the nine updated strategic plans for internationalisation, adapted thanks to the project.

FORINT has also managed to develop a culture of internationalisation in the nine participating institutions. They can now serve as ambassadors in the region, presenting their experience as a way to raise awareness in other Latin American universities about the importance and the benefits of internationalisation.

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In addition, the publication of the case-study book “Internacionalización en Cuba y Panamá: Experiencias del proyecto FORINT” will help other institutions replicate of the project. The book features examples of best practice of the consortium members, alongside advice and experience regarding their internationalisation journey, and is a valuable asset for any school embarking on its internationalisation journey.

EFMD continues to organise regular events to foster new collaborations between the FORINT partners. Thanks to its global network of members and partners, EFMD can connect business schools from the LatAm region and their global counterparts and strengthen learning, networking and cooperation worldwide.

EFMD also remains active in the LatAm region with the project IMPALA – Strengthening IMPAct of Latin American universities. This is a spin-off from FORINT which will work on evaluating the impact of higher education activities in the region. More information about the international projects is available on our website.