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|Matěj Čadek, Coordinator
Architectural Institute in Prague (ARCHIP) is the only central European college of architecture to offer both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes in English. The proportion of non-Czechs among ARCHIP students is more than 90% – a high level of internationalization is thus a long-term objective for us. It is also something that we take pride in.
As we find ourselves in an increasingly globalized world, internationalization as well as the ability to appear as an attractive partner for other higher education bodies from abroad, have become key criteria of quality. We realize that and do our best to promote international cooperation with other schools bearing similar values. The Erasmus+ programme for higher education is an integral part of this effort. We appreciate the programme opportunities greatly and value the overall emphasis that the European Union puts on higher education.
There are three levels of internationalization that ARCHIP pursues vigorously:
1. International environment within the school.
ARCHIP gradually became a home to students and teachers of more than 30 nationalities. In this way, an inspirational environment is created in which everyone has an opportunity to share their ideas. Thanks to this, different senses of aesthetics and architectural approaches intertwine in our school, and students are given a chance to feel they are – to use an EU motto – truly united in diversity.
Our goal naturally is to sustain and further improve the level of the international environment within the school. This is the only way in which ARCHIP can keep its unique atmosphere of diversity and familiarity.
2. Accessible short-term and long-term mobility.
Ever since ARCHIP was founded, its students have been able to benefit from short-term, small-scale mobilities that were based on cooperation with other European schools or on our teachers’ passionate approach. This changed when the first Erasmus+ mobility grant was obtained by ARCHIP from the national agency. The programme is not only a general platform for students willing to experience a different learning environment, but it is also a tool that enables them to do so.
ARCHIP’s international students are a specific group to convey this message to: most of them have already travelled to Prague to study architecture. Because of that, they do not perceive Erasmus+ as a new life experience which is quite a common perception among students studying in their country of origin. For that reason, we at ARCHIP try hard to focus on the educational aspect of the Erasmus+ experience, enabling our students to take a semester abroad at a number of top schools mostly in Germany, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.
In the future, we would also like to help arrange internships abroad for our students through the Erasmus+ programme – something a talented architect-to-be needs just as much as an educational experience in another country, if not even more.
Our overall goal regarding mobility is to convey the message that spending a semester abroad or having an internship experience from abroad is a natural thing. That way, students can benefit from experiencing a slightly different style of instruction and learn about new architectural approaches and ideas which they can bring back to ARCHIP and, subsequently, apply to their future careers. The gist of this message is not only applicable to students but also to teachers who can share ideas and good practice whilst teaching abroad, or they can learn from guest lecturers that come to ARCHIP.
Motivation is key in order to make ARCHIP’s Erasmus programme grow. We aim to keep providing the best educational opportunities to our students, using ARCHIP’s network of partner institutions and the generous programme funding. The target is to send at least 4% of our students abroad each semester. Starting in 2019, we would also like to enable our students to make use of internship opportunities in foreign countries. Next steps are to secure the necessary funding and include this possibility into our curriculum. In addition to this, our goal is also to send more teachers abroad in order for them to learn, exchange ideas and further promote international cooperation with our partner institutions.
Last but not least, we at ARCHIP are always glad to welcome students and teachers from our partner institutions as they usually bring a fresh breeze to ARCHIP.
3. Quality cooperation with ARCHIP’s international partners.
Building on the previously mentioned points as well as the experience and contacts of our teachers, ARCHIP strives to promote all sorts of cooperation with institutions of higher education, public administration bodies, and private architectural firms and studios.
Europe remains the focal point of ARCHIP’s international activities and cooperative programmes. We have well-established ties with a number of architectural schools in Scandinavia, a region which has always been our main area of interest, given the background and contacts of ARCHIP’s core teachers and staff. Apart from that, ARCHIP also has its partners in Germany, France and other countries of Western Europe. Recently, we have also been engaged in forging a deeper connection with architectural schools in the (post-Brexit) United Kingdom, as well as with a number of emerging schools of architecture in Central Europe and the Balkans.
Further, we foster our long-lasting cooperation schemes with higher education institutions in USA, India or China.
Our goal regarding the promotion of international cooperation is to keep focusing on our long-term partners while deepening and improving cooperation schemes that we have with our newer partners, particularly in the United Kingdom and Central and Southeast Europe. In order to achieve that, a more dynamic communication and a free flow of ideas have to be established. Last but not least, ARCHIP teachers should also be highly motivated to undertake a cross-border project that they feel passionate about and, consequently, include it in their day-to-day curriculum.
Using the unique know-how, experience and contacts of our staff, along with the ARCHIP 2020+ grant scheme and the Erasmus+ funding granted by the Czech national agency (the DZS), we would like to sustain the highly international character of ARCHIP and promote it even further. We hope to see visible progress in internationalization by the end of 2020, which would be in line with this police statement as well as the ECHE.