The International University of Struga (IUST) hosted a Study Visit, welcoming 14 representatives from consortium partners of Western Balkan Universities on May 29-30, 2023. The aim of the visit was to provide insights into the organizational structure and strategic framework of IUST’s International Relations Office (IRO) and learn from the experience of a young, yet rapidly growing university.
During the visit, participants were introduced to the IRO, gaining valuable knowledge about the type and range of projects accomplished under the Erasmus+ program. Presentations by the Erasmus+ coordinator and the Head of the IRO covered various aspects, including selection procedures for students, inter-institutional agreements, development strategies, and challenges faced during the internationalization process.
Discussions revolved around current internationalization strategies and approaches, allowing participants to exchange ideas and learn from each other’s successful partnerships. They also addressed administrative and policy barriers that hinder internationalization efforts, particularly related to migration policies and limited access for students in remote areas.
The second day of the study visit focused on equal and equitable access provisions at both institutional and IRO levels. Presentations on International Credit Mobility Policy Enhancement and its integration with the Internationalization Strategy shed light on the importance of consolidating the IRO as an integrated unit within the university and establishing effective coordination with faculties and departments.
Criteria for choosing international partners and priorities in the process were extensively discussed, emphasizing the need for feedback loops among IROs, students, and staff. Participants shared approaches for organizing events and conducting surveys to gather individual experiences and identify areas for improvement.
Cultural differences between the Western Balkans region and other regions were recognized as a common challenge. Academic staff stressed the importance of gradually addressing these differences and preparing self-assured students who are ready to embrace mobility programs.
The Study Visit at IUST proved to be a valuable opportunity for consortium partners from Western Balkan Universities to learn from the university’s internationalization practices. The exchange of ideas and experiences will undoubtedly contribute to the enhancement of their own International Relations Offices and foster stronger partnerships in the future.