Please describe your institution’s international (EU and non-EU) strategy. In your description please explain
a) how you choose your partners
b) in which geographical area(s) and
c) the most important objectives and target groups of your mobility activities (with regard to staff and students in first, second and third cycles, including study and training and short cycles).

If applicable, also explain how your institution participates in the development of double/multiple/joint degrees. (max 5000 characters).

Istanbul Okan University has set internationalization as one of its top priorities from the outset. Within this perspective, it has endeavoured to increase the number of international degree and mobile students by 20 percent every year. It aims to have 10% of its student body as international students by 2015. In order to achieve this aim, the language of instruction and curricula of the programmes are designed to facilitate international mobility and recognition. The Bologna Process is applied and ECTS grading is used to enhance quality and transparency.

The internationalization strategy of the university is based on several pillars : recruitment of international students from all around the world; increasing the number of mobile students and staff by participating in different exchange programmes, thus achieving internationalization abroad and at home; enhancing the number and contents of cooperation agreements so as to establish joint and double degrees and common research projects and last, but not least, modernisation of its curriculum and teaching methods to comply with international educational and global business needs. Istanbul Okan University also gives utmost importance to the implementation of the Bologna Process as the main tool of its internationalization project, thereby contributing to the construction of EHEA and ERA.

Istanbul Okan University seeks diverse and efficient cooperation with partners in terms of student and staff mobility, common research projects and transfer of knowledge and innovation. Compatibility of curricula, use of ECTS credits and mutual interest in exchanging students and staff are the major criteria for partner selections. The university establishes two types of cooperation agreements: EU and non-EU bilateral agreements for mobility and inter-institutional protocols for cooperation on a wider scale. Within Europe, Istanbul Okan University actively participates in the Erasmus programme, increasing the number of mobile students and staff by 25% every year. It also adheres to ISEP, the international student exchange programme, comprising more than 350 higher education institutions worldwide. Other inter-institutional protocols encompass higher education institutions ranging from China, Korea and Japan to the universities in Europe and in the USA.

Although Istanbul Okan University, as an institution in the European Higher Education Area, has stronger ties with European HEIs, it does also prioritise establishing partnerships with HEIs in the Balkans and Eurasia. International degree students are recruited mainly from Africa, Middle East and Eurasia. A high number of grants are allocated to international students coming from disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, thus expanding educational diversity.

The main target of mobility is first and second cycle students and junior level academic staff and researchers. Although currently Istanbul Okan University strongly encourages first and second cycle students to spend at least one semester abroad, its objective is to integrate compulsory mobility in the curricula and provide its students with international experience before they are integrated into the labour market. Short cycle students are encouraged to participate in the Erasmus placement programme. As for staff mobility, Istanbul Okan University gives mobility priority to junior level academic, administrative staff and researchers.

Istanbul Okan University believes in the importance of joint and double degrees to provide the highly qualified workforce which is needed to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe. Within this perspective it strives to increase the number of joint and double degrees with its European partners who are in the EHEA. The university also aims to augment the number of double degrees for short cycle programmes in view of vertical mobility.

If applicable, please describe your institution's strategy for the organisation and implementation of international (EU and non-EU) cooperation projects in teaching and training in relation to projects implemented under the Programme. (max. 2000 characters)

Istanbul Okan University believes that student and staff mobility is one of the main tools for ensuring quality and transparency in higher education. Mobility also increases the compatibility between institutions and prepares the path for joint projects in Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Istanbul Okan University aims to achieve its internationalisation strategy by placing mobility as a priority, by improving the quality of student and staff mobility, and by establishing cooperation with HEIs and enterprises within this perspective.

Istanbul Okan University also works towards providing its students with the possibility of studying abroad for at least one semester during their Bachelor or Master’s degrees by increasing the number of its cooperation projects.

OU attaches great importance to fostering cooperation and setting up joint projects with EU and non-EU neighbouring countries. Under the auspices of protocols signed with higher education institutions in neighbouring countries and cross-border cooperation projects, Istanbul Okan University aims to facilitate student and staff exchange and develop knowledge alliances with neighbouring countries, so as to attract more students into higher education.

Istanbul Okan University describes itself as the “university closest to the business world” and has worked towards establishing strategic alliances with enterprises, non-governmental organisations and local governments. OU has made it a priority to consult all stakeholders before designing educational programmes and curricula. It has also set up several tailor-made Master’s programmes to meet the requirements of enterprises and to enable adult and students with family responsibilities to undertake further studies, thus making quality higher education accessible for under-represented groups.

OU acknowledges the importance of the dissemination and visibility of the results of successful staff mobility or international cooperation with strategic partners.

Please explain the expected impact of your participation in the Programme on the modernisation of your institution (for each of the 5 priorities of the Modernisation Agenda*) in terms of the policy objectives you intend to achieve. (max. 3000 characters)

Istanbul Okan University continuously endeavours to improve and modernise itself to contribute to smart and sustainable growth as a higher education institution. Participation in the Programme will enable Istanbul Okan University to realise its goals in terms of internationalisation and modernisation.

Active participation in the Programme will not only increase the number of mobile students and staff and strengthen its internationalisation process, but will also urge Istanbul Okan University to undertake further steps towards educational reforms to meet Europe’s need for well qualified graduates and researchers. The Programme, by stipulating the use of common mobility tools, i.e., credit transfer system, based on student workload and learning outcomes (ECTS) and learning agreements, will initiate HEIs for more quality and transparency. OU, which has participated in the previous Erasmus Programmes, will continue to improve its transparency and work towards achieving excellence in its programmes.

As one of the fundamental principles of the Programme is to strengthen cooperation between HEIs and increase the number of mobile students and staff, it will enable Istanbul Okan University students and researchers to gain additional intercultural and linguistic skills and will help OU to boost its performance.

The Programme also enables HEIs to improve relevance of their academic programmes by stipulations for equipping graduates with the knowledge and core transferable competencies, by urging HEIs to orient research towards issues required for a sustainable and inclusive growth of European economy. Being part of the Programme will provide Istanbul Okan University with the possibility of sharing experience and expertise with partner higher education institutions and the possibility of setting up common cross-border projects.

Istanbul Okan University believes in the mutual benefit of close international cooperation and in flexible and modern curricula adaptable to specific needs. Production of knowledge can no longer be thought as a separate field of action. The knowledge triangle between higher education, research and business should be strengthened in order to achieve European and regional development. Istanbul Okan University’s participation and commitment to the Programme will support its continuous efforts to modernise its programmes for fostering strategic partnerships with the business world and to be a decisive actor in regional developmental issues.

Istanbul Okan University, being a private foundation HEI, attributes utmost importance to flexibility in governance and independent funding of projects and research. Governance flexibility is required for quick adaptability to ever changing economic and international conditions. Istanbul Okan University believes that independent funding will contribute to investment in target oriented research, thus producing results and answers to what Europe needs for establishing the knowledge triangle between higher education, research and business for the betterment of the society.

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