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Manuel F. Morales-Contreras, Zhou Guanqi, Donant Alananto Iskandar, Alexander Mohr, Laura Fernández Méndez

Covid19 as a trigger for new ways of internationalizing of Higher Education

Internationalization of Higher Education (IHE) has become a priority for many universities and governments for the last two decades. IHE brings new opportunities to enhance the quality of learning, teaching, research, innovation and transfer of knowledge. Many initiatives have been implemented, both in campus and out of campus. Covid19 pandemic shut down entire economies all around the world, including education systems, where most of teaching turned to online tuition. IHE resulted affected, as mobility restrictions for professors and students were implemented. The research question that governs this study refers to how Jesuit Universities could overcome the current situation to maintain/ enhance high quality IHE under Covid19 pandemic.This paper is based on a case study of an internationalization initiative in a master program at ICADE Business School (Universidad Pontificia Comillas) in Spain. The Master in International Management (MIM) is a full time program where internationalization has always been a key success factor, and it is provided in campus (MIM entirely taught in English, 40% international students, global curriculum, international and visiting professors) as well as out of campus (exchange opportunities for students, professors and staff). Covid19 impacted significantly: no international students; no visiting professors; and reduced exchange options for students. This initiative launched in two different subjects of the MIM, consists of the design and implementation of two group projects where MIM students team worked with students from other universities abroad. Project 1 was related to the subject “Global Operations Management” where Spanish MIM students collaborated with students from Yunnan University (China) and from Kalbis Institute (Indonesia). The research topic was based on location decisions for manufacturing plants in a high-tech industry, evaluating scenarios as staying in China, reshoring to Indonesia or backshoring to Europe. Project 2 was related to the subject “Internationalization the company” where Spanish MIM students collaborated with students from Vienna University (Austria) and from Luiss Guido-Carli (Italy). The research topic was based on evaluating internationalization strategies for a pharmaceutical industry. Planned learning objectives were based on acquiring knowledge in the research topic, as well as in the intercultural experiences. Projects were presented, and professors provided assistance during the 4-7 weeks challenge. Students formed groups and worked with high degree of autonomy, delivering for each project written papers with their research and defending an oral presentation with the analysis and proposed strategies. Feedback from instructors and students were gathered to assess the learning outcomes. Findings show that: (i) grades were higher compared to previous years (high quality outcomes); (ii) students considered the experience as highly positive; (iii) intercultural experience started as a non-evident challenge and ended as an added value activity; (iv) it allowed them to acquire some competences that are appreciated by the labour market; (v)intercultural differences were reported when dealing with European vs Asian students; (vi) key success factors were identified; and (vii) proposals for improvement were provided.