Mit inzwischen 63 Partneruniversitäten kann sich das International Office der Zeppelin University schmücken: Von Thailand bis Peru, von Südafrika bis Schweden bieten sich für die Studierenden zahlreiche Möglichkeiten, ein Semester in einem Sprach- und Kulturraum jenseits Friedrichshafens zu verbringen. Der Oszillograf wollte vom Leiter des International Office, Gary Anderson, wissen, wie gut die Uni ihre Partnerhochschulen kennt.
We started with our first partner university, Valdosta State University in Georgia, nearly seven years ago. We have added 62 others so far – the latest is the Universidad Católica Argentina in Buenos Aires. In our work, we try to offer a wide range of choices for the students – our task over the years has been to get as many continents and languages in our group of partner universities. In 2009 we focused on Spanish speaking countries.
Is there a favorite place or university for the students?
The students’ decision is mostly pushed by geographical aspects. Their choice is driven by the appeal of large cities, sun and beaches. Many students apply for Australia or California, for example. Last fall we sent out 40, this fall 36. The problem is, however, that our ability to send students to our partners is also dependent on the number of incoming students. That‘s why I have to plead for more seats from them. That we only get half the amount of incoming students that we would like is a Germany-wide problem, not limited to ZU. The fact that Germans speak English very well, are interested in the cultures of other places, and can afford to study abroad leads to imbalances. Moreover, German isn‘t such a popular language anymore and Friedrichshafen, compared to Munich or Berlin, is a hard sale.
What would be your choice?
I have a different perspective than the students, I guess. I would go to Wyoming.
What exactly is your job at the International Office?
In the fall of 2008, Beatrice Vallo joined the office. Now we have kind of a division of labour: Mrs. Vallo is responsible for the European countries with all the special rules, like the ERASMUS program and other scholarships. I am in charge of the universities in the broader world picture. A big part of our daily work is to manage the relationships between ZU and our partner universities—to coordinate with them. We try to get more seats for outgoing students from them or sometimes travel overseas to acquire new universities. Mrs. Vallo is also in charge of the accommodations, so she has to deal with the hard task of finding cheap or even free flats close to the university. We hope that new student dorms will ease the flat situation in the city of Friedrichshafen.
We want to introduce one of our two partner universities in South Africa. What is special about them or the country?
Some four years ago, Mr. Jansen and I went on a trip to visit our new partners in Cape Town and Johannesburg – in my view Joburg is a more traditionally African city whereas Cape Town is quite European. The problem with Africa as well as South America is that we cannot maintain the balance between outgoing and incoming. Students from these places cannot afford to study here in Germany. However, with financial support through the Baden-Württemberg-Stipendium, we have three to four ZU-scholarships and cheap or free apartments, so we try to make it possible for them.
Das Gespräch führte Nico Hoffmann.