Internationalization is one of the main long-term objectives of the Hellenic Mediterranean University (HMU), and for that reason the HMU has formulated a clear strategy towards the direction of strengthening its cooperation with other European universities, within the frame of the Erasmus+ programmes. Moreover, the HMU aims to expand its partnerships with universities in countries situated in the vicinity of Greece, and more specifically with universities in the Western Balkans, East European Neighboring and South Mediterranean Countries. The main target group of this policy is the students, to which the HMU aims to offer the best possibilities for expanding their horizons in education and personal development. Additionally, its staff, who is dedicated to providing high standard education to the students, also greatly benefits from its participation in these exchange programmes and further contributes to the upgrading of the offered education by the Institute. Participation and organization of Intensive Programmes, short courses, seminars and other forms of educational activities are of uppermost priority for the HMU and we are well aware that these targets can be achieved only through the opening up in the international relations and cooperations with other universities.
The Hellenic Mediterranean University has been involved in the EU exchange programmes for almost 30 years (ICPs, Socrates, Erasmus), coordinated by the International Relations Office (IRO) and strongly supported by the central administration, who appreciates the value of internationalization expressed by Erasmus and other EU programs. HMU has proven an excellent record of participation in the Erasmus programme that reached its peak in 2014, when it was awarded with the Silver European Award for Good Practice in Erasmus. In the same year, the Institute received 6 out of 12 awards for the organization of 6 Intensive Programmes and a Curriculum Development Programme, from IKY (State Scholarship Foundation). These activities and successes enhanced the recognisability of the HMU at a European level, leading an increasing number of students and professors in choosing our institution as the host university for studies or teaching mobility.
More specifically, the HMU has established as many as 280 Inter-institutional Agreements in various study fields, with more than 100 universities around the world. These agreements offer mobility options for student exchange at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as for guest lecturers and administrative staff. Each year almost 100 students from programme countires visit the HMU for studies, while around 150 Greek students take advantage of the programme, for studies or internship abroad. In addition, the organization of an International Week on a yearly basis provide the opportunity to an increasing number of scholars and administrative staff from European and International partner universities to visit the HMU for teaching or training.
We have seen and experienced the benefits of these programmes and we are now more than before, actively seeking to expand our horizons even further culturally, geographically and socially. Cooperation with other Universities is based on quality standards, thus assuring the best quality of education and research. More specifically, our international partners are chosen according to a number of criteria, including fit with the HMU in terms of mission, and quality of the student experience. The relevance of the curriculum of each Department or School, the profile of the academic staff and the quality of the foreign institutions are taken into account, when a department or a faculty member makes a suggestion on a new inter-institutional cooperation. Particular attention is given to criteria related to reciprocity, balance of mobility and the existence of mutual interest factors necessary for successful collaborations.
Geographical factors are also taken into consideration for our network expansion. In regard to EU country universities, with which we already have an active mobility, there is an equal distribution both in the countries of the South Mediterranean region and in the countries of Central-East and Northern Europe (e.g. Scandinavian countries). As far as expansion in Erasmus+ partner countries is concerned (i.e. third countries), the HMU has started to implement its first steps, with the commencement of the International Credit Mobility Scheme in 2016, in line with its overall internationalization strategy. The main target countries include countries in the West Balkans, East European and Central Asia countries, North Mediterranean Countries and North-African and Sub-Saharan countries. Furthermore, the HMU is about to commence its collaboration with Universities in China and other East Asia Countries during the academic year 2018-19.
In order the HMU to further enhance its mobility activities for students and staff in all study fields, the Institution has set the following objectives: as far as students are concerned, it encourages mobility for studies both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, though most of our outgoing students are undergraduates. Thus, the focus of the majority of inter-institutional agreements is on the first study cycle. The HMU also welcomes agreements in relation to traineeships. For staff mobility, it tries to attract academic staff for teaching, so as local students and existing staff derive maximal benefit towards the student experience improvement. International mobilities initially target academic staff, both inbound and outbound, as well as inbound undergraduate and postgraduate students. Every year we organize Erasmus teaching and staff weeks that help our students benefit from the lectures given by our invited scholars, our staff members to have contacts with our Erasmus partners and our Institution to develop a more international and extrovert profile.
In line with the University’s strategic plans and the Erasmus+ Programme, the HMU will continue to be publicly committed to maintaining, developing and strengthening its relationships with institutions in Europe and to enhancing the opportunities for students to include an international dimension to their degree. The HMU is committed to get involved and utilize all the possibilities, opportunities and challenges offered by the Erasmus+ programme.