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“The next destination is Latin America!” – Prof. Lehmann on a tour of five countries

Although one of the smaller universities in Bavaria, Hof University of Applied Sciences already has a very international outlook: A total of 1577 students come from abroad, which corresponds to 41 percent of the total number of students. There are already over 70 different nationalities on campus – for comparison: the entire city of Hof, with a population of around 48,000, is home to around 120 nations. The university’s global network also includes more than 130 partner universities in over 40 countries. Students from India currently make up the largest proportion of international students with 1113 people, who form an impressive local community and often enrich university life with Indian sounds, colorful festivals and music. Now Hof University of Applied Sciences wants to take the next step in its internationalization strategy and is once again putting out feelers. The destination: Latin America.

In addition to the many contacts made, the focus of the trip to South America was on concluding two cooperation agreements – as here at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN). University President Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Lehmann signed it together with Dr. Reyes Sandoval, Rector of the IPN (right); Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

University President Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Lehmann and a small delegation visited a total of 5 countries in Central and South America in order to establish contacts and publicize the services offered by Hof University of Applied Sciences. The two-week trip at the beginning of November included visits to Paraguay, Panama, Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica. Shortly beforehand, another trip had already taken representatives from Hof University of Applied Sciences to the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil (“campuls-digital” reported).

Latin America: a region strong in education and research

The university president explains the reason for the trip:

‘As Hof University of Applied Sciences, we have expanded and consolidated our focus on India over the last decade – incidentally, against many doubting voices who would not always have believed us capable of doing so in this form. It is now our clear goal to establish closer contacts in Latin America – a region with a very strong educational and research base and a similar academic tradition – to consolidate existing contacts and thus attract students from this region. Diversity is the keyword here!

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Lehmann

While many young people in Central and South America have traditionally gravitated towards North American universities in the USA or Canada, Europe, with its comparatively inexpensive education, is increasingly becoming their focus. According to the President, Hof University of Applied Sciences wants to take advantage of this.

Growing prosperity increases desire for education

The first stop on the tour was Paraguay. The country has a strong German minority and a growing prosperity of the middle class, which is gradually being reflected in an increasing desire for university education. The Hof group, consisting of University President Lehmann, Susanne Krause from the International Office and Jesús Campos, Program Manager of the Graduate School and contact person for Latin America at the International Office, visited the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola – Paraguay (USIL) in Asuncion, an offshoot of the partner university of the same name in Peru. The talks focused on getting to know the university structures in Paraguay.

Focus on business, engineering and health in Colombia

From there, it was on to the Universidad Tecnológica, Hof University of Applied Sciences’ partner university in Panama, before the first of four stops in Colombia, the Universidad El Bosque in Bogotá, was on the itinerary. Those responsible there were interested in a cooperation in the field of “Nursing” . They then went on to the Universidad Santo Tomás in the same city. A group of engineering students from there had recently visited Hof University of Applied Sciences as part of a DAAD-funded exchange. The subsequent visit to the Universidad La Sabana in Chia/Bogotá then served in particular to expand cooperation in the fields of engineering, business and health. Economics and engineering were also the focus of the talks held at the Universidad EIA in Medellín.

The University of Santo Tomás in Bogotá, Colombia; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

Return visit from Costa Rica

At the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, which attracts particular attention for its research and teaching in the fields of business/supply chain, the Hof delegation met with Dr. Christian Schauer, Managing Director of the German-Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce (AHK), among others. Getting to know the local university system, research priorities and points of contact for possible cooperation were also discussed at length in this group. It was also agreed that a lecturer from the field of supply chain management would visit Hof to meet with representatives of the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics and discuss opportunities for cooperation.

Two partnership agreements in Mexico

Finally arriving in Mexico, a highlight of the delegation’s trip was on the agenda: Partnership agreements negotiated in advance were signed with the two largest universities in the country, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN).

Both are very strong research universities with great appeal and we are proud to be able to count them among our partners from now on.”

Susanne Krause, Head of the International Office at Hof University of Applied Sciences

There has already been a long-standing cooperation with the IPN in the field of textiles: following a visit by representatives from Hof under the leadership of the Bavarian University Center for Latin America (BayLAT) in April 2023, it was finally decided to extend and expand the agreement. “A framework agreement was agreed with UNAM and the first steps towards concrete cooperation with our Faculties of Engineering, Business and the Language Center were defined,” said President Prof. Lehmann on the content of the second agreement. In Mexico, the group was also received by the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY) , where those responsible showed great interest in the courses on offer in the health sector.

Dean Prof. Dr. Gerald Schmola (3rd from right), who joined the Hof University of Applied Sciences delegation, was also involved in the talks at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

Participation in study information fairs in Mexico

At the end of the trip, Hof University of Applied Sciences also took part in recruitment fairs in Mérida and Mexico City to present its range of courses to numerous interested parties and get them excited about studying at Hof University of Applied Sciences. The fairs were attended by many pupils from German schools together with their parents, who showed great interest in studying in Germany. “The main interest was in the English-language Master’s degree courses. We quickly realized that there is a great deal of interest in studying in Germany,” says Susanne Krause. A small fair was also organized in the south of Mexico City for pupils from German schools who, together with their parents, showed great interest in studying in Germany. One major advantage was that most of them have a university entrance qualification and very good German language skills, which would enable them to start a Bachelor’s degree course in Germany.

Rainer Krauß

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