The draft of UiBs Plan of Action for international activity for 2011-2015 states that the UiB intends to strengthen international activity by improving language competency among students and employees. Internationalisation doesnt however mean that all activity that is not in Norwegian will be in English.
The draft states that The University wishes to make it easier for employees and students to travel to countries where English is not the main language, by providing them with basic language tuition
- It would be embarrassing for the universitys international profile if everything was in English, says Vice Rector for International Relations, Astri Andresen.
The German language is one of the languages that will be strengthened.
During the present period (after 2012) the university will make more courses available in German, so that more students are able to choose German-speaking countries if they decide to become exchange students, according to the draft.
- Our intention to strengthen German is partly due to the fact that UiB cooperates extensively with Germany regarding research and also, the majority of our exchange students come from Germany. We have also noticed that interest in the German language and in studying in Germany is waning here at UiB, says Andresen.
28 UiB students went to Germany to study in 2010. There were three times as many during the 1990s.
The largest group of foreign researchers and students that come to the UiB come from Germany. 176 German students came here in 2009. 64 students came from France, which is in second place.
Germany is at the forefront in many fields of research. Engineering, physics and chemistry are good examples. German is also important with regard to sociological research and philosophy.
- Its gratifying that UiB has decided to strengthen German studies. The university has obviously realized that steering everything in the direction of Anglo-American countries is limiting, says assistant professor Tor Jan Ropeid of the Department of Foreign Languages.
He says that the university has a long tradition of collaborating with Germany and mentions that the father of modern meteorology and UiB pioneer, Wilhelm Bjerknes was a professor in Leipzig up until 1916, and that doctoral theses were normally written in German up until 1930.
- The strong scholarly tradition that existed between Norway and Germany was lost after World War II. Germany was however, an extremely important country for Norwegian medical students and those studying economy and political science up until 1980. During the last 20 years we have witnessed relatively aggressive marketing practices from other countries, first and foremost from Australia, says Ropeid.
Dr. Christian Bode, who was guest of honour during UiBs International Week, believes that Germany has a lot to offer Norwegian students. 245.000 foreign students are studying in Germany at the moment. This makes it the worlds biggest host country. He believes that this is due to the fact that German universities offer many courses in English.
- We are experienced in offering courses in English to foreign students, who then learn to speak German outside of their studies, says Bode.
Christian Bode was Secretary-General of DAAD - the German student-exchange organisation, from 1990 until the autumn of 2010. This is one of the largest organisations, working on increasing international mobility, in the world.
Bode also recommends that Norwegian researchers go to Germany. In addition to excellent universities, Germany also has excellent research facilities, such as the Max Planck institutes, the Humboldt Society and the Freunhofer Society. All have research schools that cooperate with universities, so that it is possible to take a PhD there.
- Its not necessary to take the entire degree in Germany to get some benefit from the stay. It can be just as sensible to spend a year abroad forging a network with German research milieus, says Bode.
Bode believes that German students and researchers will also benefit by going to Norway and Bergen.
- The University of Bergen is renowned for being a world-class university. Its an advantage to have the UiB on your CV. Take a look at the figures. More and more Germans come to Bergen, says Bode.