As with many colleges and universities across the United States and around the world, at Bellevue College (BC) we are reexamining our efforts towards international engagement and partnerships. We have worked to clearly state our goals and desired outcomes, to consider our models of collaborating with partner institutions abroad, and envision the ways in which our efforts can be fully integrated into our core institutional missions.
BC has signed MOU’s with foreign institutions in the past. All those affiliations are important. A small set, however will now be designated as Strategic Partners.
A Strategic Partnership is generally pursued with an institution within a country with strategic importance for the internationalization of the BC. Strategic Partnerships will have campus wide significance, involving multiple BC departments and units. They represent an institutional commitment to long-term, broad-based, sustainable relationships. Selection of Strategic Partners will reflect BC and community interests, critical regions of the world, and potential to enhance international learning, research and engagement. Such Partnerships are also intended to bring the expertise of BC’s many divisions and departments in conjunction with each other.
Characteristics of strong potential partners for strategic collaboration may include:
- Similar Scope of Activities
Potential partners should be relative peer institutions, similarly focused or comprehensive in their educational programs, with at least some shared strengths, as well as some complementary strengths in particular disciplines.
- Historical and Existing Connections
A survey of past interactions between potential strategic partners will often reveal surprisingly long, if sometimes sporadic, relationships.
- Mutual Interest and Commitment
The central administrations of potential partners should be equally vested in developing a strategic partnership, and willing to allocate human and financial resources to ensure the partnership’s success.
- Compatible Administrative Structures
The international offices at the partner institutions must be similarly responsive and proactive in advocating for the emerging strategic partnership.
- Faculty Connections
Without significant faculty interest and support, the partnership has little chance of success. Initially, these connections will be fostered by exchanging visits, or by holding joint seminars to bring groups of faculty together.
- Logistics and Practical Considerations
Do the academic calendars of the potential partners correspond sufficiently? Are there sufficient language competencies among both students and faculty to make collaboration practical? Is the time difference between the locations of partner institutions conducive or prohibitive for synchronous distance learning/interactions? Is the difference in cost of living between the locations prohibitive for student mobility? Are there safety and risk management concerns?