Investment in education guarantees a student a guide to help shape their future and career development goals. And thus, we, as decision makers of this community, hold an enormous responsibility to foster the drivers that lead to success through our institutions. In this sense, multilateral collaboration within strong networks represents the best catalyser for change.
Students understand the toughness and complexity of the increasingly globalised labour markets, and key to their efforts of seeking opportunities to develop well-rounded profiles through parallel activities and environments, they continue to focus their efforts on choosing the best universities that can match their expectations. Universidad Loyola Andalucía’s mission is to offer these types of opportunities to students in the south of Spain, Andalucía. Despite all the potential of its people, economy, and geo-political situation as a bridge between Europe and Latin American countries, Andalucía is a region that suffers from a high rate of youth unemployment and a lack of resources for entrepreneurship.
Collaborate. Offer world-leading multicultural programs
In their continuous race for differentiation, students look for outstanding programs. Many of them understand that an international experience is a must in their curriculums. The traditional semester abroad is opening to a wider range of possibilities, which should lead to new partnerships between institutions that go beyond current offerings and create customised and differentiated programs.
We asked ourselves what the most influential factors are in the successful careers of young professionals and contrasted these factors with the market demands to establish the following key factors that a truly global student, the next generation of Cosmopolitan citizens, must hold.
Strong education and “values-centred” standards. Understand the importance of ensuring students receive a well-rounded education where they are the centre, integrating courses that are specific or distinguishing of the different environments and countries they will interact with.
Educating them as Cosmopolitans citizens. Encourage your students to take classes in the receiving institution’s country official language. Offer them experiences to merge with the local culture but having a global view of reality, so that they can feel at home all over the world.
Soft-skills development. Literature suggests that hard skills contribute to only 15% of student´s success while the remaining 85% is made by soft skills. (National Soft Skills Assoc., 2016) Most employers these days expect to hire, retain and promote persons who are dependable, resourceful, ethical, self-directed, assertive and willing to work and learn with a positive attitude. We must work with faculty and staff to promote diversity. Therefore, we will be preparing students to become people with a strong ethical sense of human development, not only present in their personal lives but also their professional careers.
Partnering with civil society and institutions. Stimulate the synergies of your institution with private companies, civil institutions and public administration. Constant interaction between students and the outside world will contribute to their success and increase their chances of employability.
Helping them to be ready to develop careers in global areas. Give your joint programs a legal framework, support and recognition across different educational systems. Show your students the benefits of obtaining more than one official degree from different countries.
A Jesuit institution is even more uniquely qualified to address these five aforementioned drivers for students’ success. Thus, we must focus on the importance of working towards the offering of joint programs.
Development of student success drivers: a tangible approach.
In the case of Universidad Loyola Andalucía, the Alliance and Double Degree Agreement signed with Loyola University Chicago in 2013, has certainly been one of the most far-reaching agreements. The aim of this agreement, besides an exchange for summer and faculty led programs, research collaboration, faculty exchange and other strategic shared initiatives, is to offer the possibility of completing a four-year degree program which will allow students of both institutions to obtain an undergraduate degree from both universities, one in the U.S. and one in Europe. This is a great asset for students and sets the groundwork for creating a strong, mutually beneficial connection between a U.S. university and a European university. It is our hope that this extraordinary opportunity can help create a new model of networking in higher education – a “global university” with accredited programs that provide opportunities for students around the world. Now we can revisit the five goals but this time look at them through the unique lens of Loyola Andalucia
Strong education standards.
Based in almost 500 years’ experience in Education, and through the ideal of “cura personalis”, Loyola educates students with a holistic point of view where the student is the centre and prepares them to lead extraordinary lives being men and women for others, with others. It is our intent to make them as academically and personally prepared as possible to live with a global perspective towards becoming “the best for the world”.
Educating cosmopolitan students.
Students must be global citizens who engage in activities with an international, multicultural attitude. Loyola believes in equipping students with developed language skills and deep understanding of other cultures. All these activities are connected with “Internationalisation at home” actions.
Soft-skills development. Loyola promotes soft-skills through a wide variety of on-campus activities and clubs. Teamwork, mental agility, leadership, public speaking and many others are developed in activities such as debate, sports, theatre, the music band…
Partner up civil society and institutions.
Our understanding of partnering involves as 360º view. Loyola has embraced organisations as main partners in their educational process. We believe that these relationships not only helps the university to design programs that better fit that which the labour market is demanding but it can also help us in developing stronger and larger networks. Our strong belief in this kind of synergy resulted in our partnership with AmchamSpain, the main business organization between Spain and the U.S. They back American companies in Spain, Spanish companies in the U.S., and promote direct investment in both countries. Through this network, we can better understand the professional profile that US-EU companies and institutions are demanding for the collaboration between continents.
Official assets to develop international careers.
Loyola degrees are officially recognised in the whole European territory. Moreover, with the US/Europe Double Business Degree students will earn two official degrees, one from the US and another one from the European Union.
Towards a global education: Network.
The creation of networking opportunities around events and associations such as EAIE is a phenomenal starting point for this integrated and collaborative process of offering our students the best programs and experiences. The creation of summer programs, internationalisation at home experiences, double degrees and other formats of cultural and educational exchange serve as an example of the value students see in this kind of activities.
Centralising our efforts in the development of global students should facilitate the creation of new bridges to create structured and customized programs between universities. The rise of technology and innovative ways of e-learning methods is a reality we need to celebrate and embrace. Nonetheless, the uniqueness of the experience of being in a different country and the remarkable improvement in languages, soft-skills and the face to face contact with decision making agents in the public and private sphere cannot be holistically substituted through technology. It is our responsibility with future generations to collaborate and partner to make this possible. “Go forth and set the world on fire”
National Soft Skills Association (2016, April 8) http://www.nationalsoftskills.org/the-real-skills-gap/