International Partnerships through IBSEN – Prague 2023

Cover Story, Editorial, Features

Xamk belongs to IBSEN – the International Business Studies Exchange Network – along with Hochschule Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSBI), Czech University of Life Sciences, Hallym University, Indian River State College, Izmir University of Economics, I. H. Asper School of Business, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Université Polytechnique Hauts-De-France, and University of Cagliari, Italy. The main aim of the network is to promote and help develop international competences for both students and staff of the partner universities.

IBSEN partners usually meet twice a year hosted at one of the campuses of a partner in rotation. The next meeting in late autumn 2023 will be at the University of Cagliari, Italy, and in May 2024 it will be the turn of Xamk and our Kouvola Campus. The last meeting was held at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague in May 2023 and was attended on behalf of Xamk by Sara Czabai, Mia Silvenius, and myself.

The week always starts with an informal welcoming dinner so that everyone can catch up with each other since the last meeting, and relax in pleasant surroundings before the start of business on the next day. Old friends were greeted and new acquaintances made. Many of the IBSEN participants have been attending the meetings for many years, and others, such as Sara and Mia have only just taken over the roles in the last year. For myself, although I have been involved in international teaching, exchange, and networks for over 20 years, this was my first IBSEN meeting.

The venue for the meeting was at the Czech University of Life Sciences campus, which is located about 8km from the city. A 15 minute taxi ride took us to the campus where we were greeted with a relaxed breakfast in the highest building on campus with spectacular views of campus and surrounding countryside. The purpose of the two-day meetings was to discuss issues raised previously and to move forward and plan deeper and more productive cooperation among partners. One of the aims is to promote more joint projects, teaching, exchange, and practical training for students among the network. We discussed how curricula can be developed to enable students to take more subjects from partner universities without affecting their current choices. One such possible project is to develop offerings unique to each partner that can then be shared by the network. There was even a discussion about a possible joint certificate/diploma being developed and even – who knows – in the future a full degree made up of the courses offered by each partner. This sounds a little like the Ingenium partnership that Xamk is currently part of at the moment.

Our hosts in Prague certainly kept up the pressure of business with a tight schedule for the meetings, with informal brief breaks and lunches where members could continue to discuss possible partnership projects and ideas. There were also the all-important social aspects of such meetings to participate in as well.

The campus has various faculties and one – the Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources – produces their own dairy products from their own farm, which are then sold in their own shop on campus. A word of warning, the “light” version of their milk is 5% fat, but it tastes so good! Another faculty – the Faculty of Engineering – houses their very own brewery and the beers are sold in their own campus bar and other locations in Prague. Their “Suchdolský Jeník” beer took 2nd place at the VI. Usti Beer Fair of Small and Family Breweries – and of course we were asked to sample this award-winning brew during a tour of the facilities! Following this we had to run to catch a local bus to the tram museum and a ride back down to the city in a historic tram in time for dinner.

We were fortunate enough to have perfect weather for the visit as Prague is such a beautiful city to visit and wonder around. There are many sights as one would expect from such an historic city, from the dominating sight of the castle on the hill overlooking the city to the winding streets below, numerous museums to visit, the ubiquitous tourism area of the old town, and the impressive, must-see sight, of the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. Sara and Mia will have their work cut out for them making Kouvola leave a lasting impression when hosting the meeting next spring – ahh, but we do have the clean air, nature, cleanliness, and tranquillity of Finland.

For more information about IBSEN and partners, see: