Ruhr-Universität Bochum has introduced a new format in its internationalisation strategy. The aim is to offer a platform for dialogue with partner universities on topics that are of high relevance to society across the world.
The Ruhr becomes digital
Since its inception, the Ruhr-Universität has always been eager to promote the internationalisation of education and research, and has built up strong relations to prestigious partner institutions. It is an important part of the university’s institutional strategy to sustain and strengthen these links. With our new international format, the RUB Science Days, we will foster exchange and cooperation with our partner universities. Japan was picked as a partner because digitilisation is high on the agenda in both countries and science – and hence universities – plays an important role in implementation; and both countries face similar societal challenges, such as how to provide for an ageing population. Also, data privacy has a similar status in both countries. “In Japan, we are very careful with the idea of privacy,” said Masashi Haneda, executive vice-president of the University of Tokyo.
The event was also possible because RUB and several Japanese top-ranking universities have maintained close links for many years – for example, the partnership with the University of Tokyo goes back to 1969, making it RUB’s oldest one. Cooperation agreements have also been signed with Osaka University and the University of Tsukuba, in 2010 and 2016 respectively. RUB was founded in 1965 as the first academic institution in the north-western industrial region of Germany. Its annual funding totals €560 million (US$654 million), of which about €111 million is third-party funding. Its 43,000 students, among them almost 6,000 from 130 different countries abroad, study in 20 faculties offering some 190 study programmes, making it one of the 10 largest universities in Germany. Subjects range from arts and humanities through social sciences and natural sciences to engineering and medicine. In 2007 RUB, together with the neighbouring universities in Dortmund and Duisburg, formed the University Alliance Ruhr, which offers researchers opportunities for cooperation and gives students the option to attend courses at the neighbouring universities.
In addition to internationally oriented study and funding programmes, a large number of student exchange programmes are maintained with universities worldwide. Study programmes are run in cooperation with international partner universities in which joint and double degrees can be obtained. And the students can choose from 15 international masters courses taught exclusively in English. In the course of the alliance, liaison offices in New York (USA), Moscow (Russia) and São Paulo (Brazil) have been created to promote international cooperation and student and scholarly exchanges. The university adopted its first internationalisation strategy in 2010, which covers all areas of university activity. The institution as a whole supports 45 international partnerships in research, study, teaching and knowledge transfer. It is part of a number of transnational education networks: the Utrecht Network which consists of 32 universities from 27 countries, the Global Campus of Human Rights, the DAAD-partnered South African-German Centre for Development Research in Cape Town, the Vietnamese-German University in Ho Chi Minh City and the Sino-German College for Graduate Studies at Tongji University in Shanghai.
Some 600 incoming and a similar number of outgoing students take advantage of the exchange and scholarship programmes each year. In order to enable less mobile students to obtain international skills as well, the curriculum is to be increasingly internationalised and digitised. This is being accomplished with virtual and blended mobility formats such as VT-Prep (Virginia Tech Post-baccalaureate Research and Education Program). In addition to the roughly 6,000 international students, 700 international doctoral researchers are working at the university. And more than 200 international guest researchers and 570 international full-time staff contribute to the international profile of RUB. As part of the federal and state government joint funding programme for junior academics, 18 new tenure track professorships have recently been approved for funding, with money for five of them being specially allocated to computer sciences and the remaining 13 professorship positions contributing to RUB’s networking field “Digital transformation of the economy and society”.