In order to match every student with a partner, Ulrike Schneider cooperates with the faculty – above all, with the support of the Associate Dean for International Affairs Matthias Hühn – and the university management. Together, they search for universities that are potential network members. “We have to verify that both the program content and the structure of the foreign university meet our needs,” Schneider says. “Are there enough lectures in English; do they follow a similar academic calendar; what’s the quality of teaching, etc.? The accreditation and reputation of the potential partner are key factors, too.” Personal contacts to the potential partner, for example from a conference, can be a useful asset for the upcoming partnership.
Once the team has found a new partner, the relationship has to be cultivated. For this purpose, the International Office remains in close contact with the partner university. Ulrike Schneider and her team update network members about innovations and changes at KLU. But as she explains, what they do goes far beyond an exchange of information: “We try to meet as many partners as possible personally and to visit the university campus. Our goal is to gain insight into student life, the campus, and the faculty there. Any relationship is less anonymous when you can match a face to the voice on the telephone.”
The KLU students also make an important contribution to maintaining the international network. After all, the students are the university’s ambassadors, and represent KLU during their semester abroad. After they have chosen their partner university, Ulrike Schneider nominates them and makes sure that each KLU student meets all of the partner’s requirements. “No student has been turned down yet,” says Schneider.
But the International Office is not only responsible for students who are going abroad: “Exchange programs are an essential part of the spirit here, and I am glad to welcome the incoming exchange students,” says Schneider. “I answer their questions, for example on the course selection long before their arrival in Hamburg”. Finding a suitable accommodation for a reasonable price is another typical problem: “Fortunately, together with my colleagues in Student Services we have always been able to find a solution,” says the International Office manager.
Ulrike Schneider appreciates the constant contact with global partners and the international atmosphere in the office: “In the evening, when I think about how many directions my telephone calls and emails have taken that day, from Mexico to Finland, from India to South Korea, it always makes me happy.”
And if she were to give the KLU students a very personal recommendation for their semester abroad? “That’s easy – the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School of Business at The Polytechnic of Namibia in Windhoek! This year, one of our students is going there. Africa may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think some adventure during the semester abroad can be the cherry on the cake.”