Prof. Mariaenrica Frigione, PhD
Vice-Rector for Technical-Scientific Area
Delegate of the Rector for the Internationalization
Responsible for the “InterAsia” Project
The development of the international dimension has been one of the strategic objectives of the University of Salento in the last five years. UniSalento is currently focusing on both short-term and long-term policies, and on the optimization of all the sectors involved. We have consolidated the existing international collaborations, and also fostered new ones to further internationalize didactic, training, research and the 'third mission', that of further developing links with our own region.
Through these new policies, local students will benefit from high-quality training programs which will also enable them to have a wide variety of international study and experience abroad to choose. Curricular international work-placements provide students with important educational international experience, transforming theory into practice in prestigious academic and research centers.
Students mobility and exchange programs
To boost incoming/outgoing student mobility at all levels, both within EU and extra-EU Countries, several action were realized. Among them:
- the organization of periodic Erasmus+ Infodays for Bachelor, Master and PhD Students, to provide any useful information on all the mobility opportunities to students enrolled at UniSalento;
Presentation of Erasmus+ Programs during the Infodays in 2018
- a constant update and widening of Erasmus destinations, with the signing of new agreements with foreign universities and international research institutes, in order to supply the students greater possibilities to spent a study/trainee period in Academic Entities closer to their expectations;
- the acquisition of Apulia regional funds for two mobility Projects with Extra EU Countries: InterAsia (China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan) and Cross-border studies in the Humanities (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania);
- a careful analysis and screening of the open calls dedicated to students international mobility (e.g. Erasmus+, Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions in EU Area, Vinci and Galileo for France, VULCANUS for Japan, Turandot for China, etc.).
Through these policies and strategies, along with an optimization of the funds available for these activities, the number of Bachelor, Master and PhD out-going students for study or for traineeship, as well as the number of university credits acquired abroad, have been constantly increasing, also as a consequence of the increased amount (since 2013-14 Academic Year, +70% of funds from Erasmus+ programs, only) of funds get for the mobility projects of UniSalento students.
In-coming overseas students that chose UniSalento for their mobility destination, in 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years have been supported by two additional mobility programs (financed by Apulia Region, half million of Euro), involving Asian Area (China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan) and Balkan Region (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania).
The enthusiastic interest shown by students of University of Salento for mobility programs involving Extra-EU Countries persuaded, in spring 2019, to allocate additional funds for grants reserved for mobility, for study/trainee, to be carry out in 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years in countries not covered by Erasmus + funding.
If Apulia region is one of the most active Italian regions for students mobility, University of Salento manages to mobilize the largest number of students among the Apulia universities (in 2018-19: 455 outgoing and 175 incoming students). As a consequence of the increased number of out-going students (2013-15) and credits acquired abroad (2016-18), UniSalento got extra funds from Italian Ministry.
Double/Multiple Degree and PhD programs
In the last years, the number of internationalized first and second-level courses as well as doctoral research courses at UniSalento has constantly raised. Several double/multiple Degree programs, in particular, have been developed in collaboration with different international universities, meaning that students may follow part of the course abroad, even supported by reserved mobility funds, acquiring at the end of their studies a degree fully recognized also in the other Country.
New double Degree undergraduate courses (Bachelor, 3 years):
- Business Administration: Valladolid, Spain (launched in 2015-16);
- Economics & Finance: Valladolid, Spain (launched in 2015-16) and Lille 1, France (launched in 2017-18);
- Technical-Scientific Translation and Interpreting (Essex, UK) (launched in 2018-19).
New double/multiple Degree graduate courses (M.Sc., 2 years):
- Philosophical Sciences: Köln, Germany, and Paris-Sorbonne, France (launched in 2015-16) (presentation of the course, January 2015, with Prof. Jean-Robert Armogathe, Emeritus at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, France, and Dr. Maxime Mauriege, Thomas-Institut Köln, Germany): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIOTssvlsp0)
- EuroMachs - European Heritage, Digital Media and the Information Society: Coimbra, Portugal, Graz, Austria, and University of Turku, Finland (launched in 2015-16) completely taught in English (http://www.euromachs.unisalento.it/index.php/it/).
- Coastal and Marine Biology and Ecology: Lille 1, France (launched in 2017-18) completely taught English (https://www.scienzemfn.unisalento.it/cmbe_2010).
In 2019, a new cooperation project in the framework of the PhD Courses activated at University of Salento has been launched, initially with the Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Marocco. The new PhD program will allow the enrollment at the PhD Courses of University of Salento of some selected Faculty members of the partner University, on the basis of a purpose-built agreement. Starting from this positive experience, it is planned to extend the same agreement to other academic partners as well as scientific Institutions.
International Students: recruitment, initiatives, services and facilities.
The increasing number of international first, second and third-level programs have contributed to raise the number of students enrolled at UniSalento from abroad (from Albania, India, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, etc.).
An international video, backed-up by the slogan “Unleash your talent at UniSalento” (released on 2016 and available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/qcpqioZ7rV4) gives an idea to our future international students of our teaching, research, hands-on training and local outdoor and social life.
Our student’s recruitment strategy involves promotional visits to Institutes of Higher Education abroad, as well as the participation to international events and educational fairs, mainly in the neighboring areas.
Since 2016, UniSalento takes part in the “Invest Your Talent in Italy” project, which aims at attracting foreign talents (even with the grant of fellowships) coming from key countries targeted for future business initiatives.
Students from abroad are closely assisted, before their arrival at Lecce and during their settling in period, with guidance during the administration procedures and in finding accommodation.
At the beginning of the first term, during the “International Students Welcoming Day” the whole UniSalento staff has the opportunity to present its services: administrative departments, digital library services, library facilities, facilities for disability, in collaboration with student associations and recreational organisations.
The international students, in particular, have access to: libraries and bibliographic resources, canteens (on the Campus and in Lecce town), free Wi-fi connection, discounted-price local transportation, courses of Italian language, sports facilities, accommodation in student residence (based on availability).
The Master and PhD students, finally, can attend for their training experiences at research laboratories equipped with modern instrumentations and facilities.
From 2016, UniSalento accomplished also initiatives for refugee students in collaboration with the Police Headquarter of Lecce area. We enable young people, holders of international protection and in possession of an adequate qualification, to enroll at UniSalento. We also offer them several benefits, university fees are waived and they have free access to libraries and other services.
Towards a constantly growing international dimension.
Starting from a high degree of individual and departmental scientific and teaching collaboration with esteemed Universities as well as European and International Research Organisations, wide and diversified has been the commitment to any kind of initiatives and actions aimed at further implementing international cooperation and exchanges.
As an example, University of Salento adheres to the Memorandum of Understanding with the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) for the implementation of the Italian School of Advanced Sciences of Kyoto (Scientific Responsible for University of Salento Prof. Mariaenrica Frigione).
In order to strengthen collaboration also for research aims with foreign universities and research organisations, many new agreements and MoU have been signed in the last years. To this aim, new Guidelines for Agreements were released in 2016, aimed at develop and widen cooperation and collaborations with other Countries.
Strategically useful have been all the meetings held at UniSalento in the last years. We have welcomed Ambassadors and Consuls, Rectors, Vice-Rectors and Delegates of Rectors, delegations of students from international Universities, groups of entrepreneurs from abroad.