Statement of our Erasmus Program Strategy
L’Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale (ULCO) has the goal of increasing its relations with universities of excellence in Europe and world-wide to increase its international visibility and to play a significant role in the establishment of education and research partnerships. ULCO is a university situated on the coastal area of the North of France. From its unique geographical position, it has developed subjects specific in connection with its location in coastal and port zones: processing of fish products (fishing), port management/logistics, and environment in its largest sense: industrial (port industrial), in coast-specific law, and marine biology.
Our research partners revolve around establishments that are situated, preferably but not exclusively, on a coast of a similar size with similar socioeconomic and environmental problems. It is thus more straightforward to find common themes which correspond to the sectors of excellence defined in the framework of the establishment’s project. The International Relations Commissions defined at the start of 2013 many target geographical zones: in Europe, we have agreed to stimulate them through transnational cooperation. This is explained by our geographical position: ULCO is situated less than 30 kilometers from the Belgian border and the tunnel under the Manche sets off from one of our education sites. In order to become more attractive vis-à-vis these countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom), the implementation of some master’s level courses in English is encouraged. To this effect, a linguistic aide is provided to those educational teams which wish to go in that direction. Additionally, to guarantee the quality of education in these master’s programs, the courses will preferably be given by English-speakers or invited professors as well as host teachers on mobility. However, and it is important to specify this, the French-speaking world has not been forgotten, and we will maintain our cooperation with the French-speaking countries of the Mediterranean, of Africa, of the Middle East, and of Asia. On the other hand, for third-party countries (those outside of the European Union), Brazil, China, the Mediterranean periphery, and Southeast Asia have been defined as priorities.
ULCO is a part of many university consortiums (Marine Universities (http://www.universities-marines.fr), USTH (Vietnam: http://usth.edu.vn)) to enhance our higher learning program (master’s, doctorate, …), to participate in international programs of excellence, and to foster mobility. The implementation of the cooperation agreements with the aforementioned consortiums will be accompanied by linguistic assistance offered to students. These countries and geographical zones have been targeted taking into account the activities of the institution but also the targets defined by our regional authority partners. One of the designated objectives, with respect to the requests of businesses, is to improve the language proficiency, particularly in English, of our students. Also, our medium-term goal is to allow each student having obtained their master’s degree to benefit from Erasmus mobility during the course of their studies. Our priority is given to those students, particularly through international internships and dual degrees. For this end, ULCO has seven dual degrees in various fields such as Coastal Tourism, Environment, Math, and Sports (STAPS).
This cooperation is encouraged, and the International Relations Department regularly finances preparatory trips which precede their implementation. The department also helps to develop agreements in compliance with legislation. In addition, ULCO hopes that relocated diplomas currently abroad will be transformed gradually into dual degrees as part of a new course offering. Nevertheless, the Erasmus program remains the flagship mobility program: these are here the undergraduate students who are encouraged to participate in it. We are also able to rely the local authorities who promote the mobility of our students through financial aid.
It is however evident that student mobility is only able to be effective if our own professors are receptive to it and participate themselves in mobilities and/or host our European colleagues. Also, the mobility of professors will not be neglected and must go together with that of students. ULCO must then work to double its capacity to send students abroad to reach the 2% mark, considered to be the mark of true dynamism.
ULCO has not participated in European projects for a few years, despite many requests submitted through the program Tempus of which we are participants. The head of the institution wishes to restart this dynamic by strengthening first its networks. It has prepared the recruitment of an advisor who will, among other things, be in charge of re-implementing these programs. A travel campaign will be prepared in the target countries and principle active partners to present our new program offering, which will be put into place as of 2014. A connection will be made with new European programs in order to work there with our partners. A more active exchange of information on existing programs will also be requested. The department of Professional Integration will be expanded in terms of staff to allow for better relations with both local and transnational businesses where the circumstances of employment are more favorable than ours. That will translate into modules on CV writing and cover letters in these languages. We will draw also on our Coastal Center of Entrepreneurship, which works to cultivate entrepreneurial spirit in our students.
The development of dual master’s, perhaps multiple, is ULCO’s fixed priority objective. Of course, the implementation of these master’s of excellence must rely upon research and be done in connection with businesses in order to meet their expectations. We possess a certain experience in the arrangement of these courses and our goal is to obtain now the financing to ensure them a greater international visibility and to host the best students from around the world. It is thus imperative to organize strong networks. In the future, the set-up of PhDs will be able to be planned, on the basis of our previous experience. An innovative university-business line is the second principle axis that we wish to develop through our coalitions of knowledge. Looking forward, the use of the ECVET to this end would be a great step achieved. The mobility of personnel, both professors and non-professors, through their participation in study-abroad or intensive programs, will be the opportunity for exchange with institutions which benefit from expertise in this area. The remote program development (FOAD) is also necessary to be more visible to attract students from a variety of backgrounds. ULCO implemented for two years the first remote program at the national level in the field of integrated coastal zone management. The new Program will help us create a new dynamic with innovative teaching concepts.