In July 2019, the FernUniversität in Hagen adopted its Internationalization Strategy 2020. As the only state distance learning university in Germany, research and teaching at the FernUniversität are firmly rooted in the global knowledge society. For years, its student body has been consistently international: Around 10% of FernUniversität students are citizens of a country other than Germany and around 8% live abroad. The FernUniversität sees itself as the provider of a German-accredited university education around the world.
Internationalizing a distance learning system with a large and varied student body requires that internationalization activities in teaching, learning, research, supporting young scholars, and knowledge transfer be specifically tailored to these conditions. In light of this background, the internationalization strategy focuses on the following four strategic goal areas:
I. Institutional Cooperation and Networks
The FernUniversität will strengthen its existing international partnerships and actively seek out potential new partnerships.
II. International and Digital Distance Learning
The FernUniversität will further develop and strengthen internationalization at home with international components and programs that are specifically tailored to distance learning. It will additionally continue to enable its students to study from anywhere in the world.
III. Research Without Borders
The FernUniversität supports its researchers’ international research cooperations and research activities.
IV. International Support Structures
The FernUniversität will continuously develop its service and communications structures in order to achieve these goals.
Read the Internationalization Strategy 2020(German, PDF 3 MB)
Since 2018, the FernUniversität has participated in the Erasmus+ European Short Learning Programs for Continuous Professional Development and Lifelong Learning project, under the leadership of the Vice-President for Digitalization and Internationalization. In preparation for this project, in 2017 Vice-President Bastiaens led the EADTU’s (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities) Short Learning Programs task force, which prepared the successful application for the Erasmus+ project.
A summary of the preliminary results can be found in the task force’s concluding report (German, pdf).
Short Learning Programs are brief learning units, typically comprising 5 to 30 ECTS, which conclude with a certificate and are integrated into bachelor’s and master’s programs. This meets the need recognized in many European countries for short-form educational programs. At the same time, students who complete SLPs have the option to further extend the knowledge gained in the Short Learning Program through the associated degree program.
Dr. Ingrid Thaler
Tel. +49 2331 987 4245
In the course of its over 40 years of history, the FernUniversität has taken part in numerous international cooperations, ranging across a wide variety of topics and forms of international collaboration. In addition to maintaining current partnerships, the University Board actively seeks out new partners, particularly in the areas of distance learning and online teaching. Within the FernUniversität, the five faculties, according to their own requirements and capacities, maintain and develop contacts and academic relations with researchers and instructors at international higher education institutions and within international academic organizations. These range from research cooperations, extensive Erasmus+ cooperations, and summer schools to dual degree programs and hosting visiting scholars.
The FernUniversität uses established higher education networks to advance its policy of cooperation and to build sustainable partnerships. It is a member of a number of organizations, including:
As a distance learning university with a large and diverse student body, the FernUniversität in Hagen integrates international components into its study programs on the basis of its blended learning concept, providing its students with a number of diverse options for gaining international experience. Examples include summer schools and English-language modules, in some cases offered in collaboration with other institutions. Example projects and experiences at the FernUniversität are regularly presented at various events.
The international office offers a variety of forms of support for internationalization in teaching and learning FernUni, including information and assistance for teaching staff who are interested in launching international digital teaching projects. Teaching staff at the FernUni can find more information about internationalization in teaching and learning on the International Office's German-language site.
The FernUniversität in Hagen considers international digital teaching and learning to be a cornerstone of its academic positioning. Since 2016, nine international digital/blended teaching projects have been established in a variety of degree programs at the FernUniversität in Hagen, seven of which have been generously supported by the internal Funding Program for Innovative Teaching.
On the basis of these projects, the FernUniversität's International Office has compiled a set of guidelines to provide information and support for teaching staff interested in setting up a joint digital or blended learning unit with international partners. For more information about and support with international teaching collaborations at the FernUniversität, please do not hesitate to contact the International Office.
The FernUniversität offers its study programs worldwide. Not only do students receive study materials delivered directly to their homes, they can also take exams from almost anywhere in the world. In addition, the FernUniversität’s regional and study centers in Austria and Hungary, as well as the service on demand structures in Switzerland, offer local support.
Once a year, the FernUniversität awards the DAAD Prize to an international student who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and social engagement.The 2019 DAAD Prize was awarded to psychology student Beya Mhadbi for her excellent academic performance and her volunteer work assisting refugees.
In order to fully harness the potential for innovation in teaching and learning, internationalization is a key component of the internal Funding Program for Innovative Teaching, which was enacted in the University Development Plan 2020. The program creates dedicated incentives to further promote internationalization through the integration of international components in distance learning. The first call for proposals was in autumn 2016. Projects funded through the program are presented at the yearly International Day, among other events.
To promote international research cooperation, the Internal Research Funding Program 2016-2020 supports researchers with applications for external funding, establishing research clusters, initiating research cooperations, and organizing international conferences. Scholars in the early phases of their careers receive special support with internationally-oriented structured doctoral and qualification programs as well as funding for travel to international conferences.
These measures are complemented by additional internationally-oriented qualification and advising services for scholars in the early phases of their careers. The FernUniversität offers a portfolio of interdisciplinary programs with international components for early-career scholars, as well as advising and support services which can, for example, be used for assistance with international funding programs or gaining international research or teaching experience. The central program portfolio is coordinated by the Service for Research Career Development, who also provide initial orientation on the topic of research career development and internationalization.
In addition, the FernUniversität’s continuously updated glossary supports all members of the university with communication in English.
Do you have questions or comments about internationalization at the FernUniversität in Hagen? Contact us!