Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC): Launch of a project that seeks to promote the internationalization of undergraduate programs at UC

The initiative seeks to promote comprehensive training, and in this line expand and articulate the offer of academic experiences; extend the advantages of an international academic exchange and interaction; and promote student mobility to and from the international university environment with a special focus on Asia.

In April of this year, the program “Internationalization of Undergraduate Studies at UC: Follow-up and Impact, Curriculum Strengthening and Mobility with a special focus on the Asian region” was presented , a project that aims to deepen internationalization at the university.

Coordinated by the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs , the initiative, which began to take its first steps in 2019 and will close in December 2023, has as its main objective the internationalization of the UC undergraduate educational project so that its students, together with with strengthening their curriculum, they can learn about and learn from other cultures and ways of life, with an appreciation and understanding of the richness and diversity of the world, which allows them to develop and contribute in a changing and globalized society and thus contribute to achieving a formation of Best Quality.

The idea of ​​the program, financed by an Institutional Improvement Project (PMI) of the Ministry of Education, is to expand and articulate the offer of academic experiences; extend the advantages of an international academic exchange and interaction; and promote student mobility to and from the international university environment with a special focus on Asia .

Why Asia? When analyzing the geographical distribution of the historical and current international mobility of the UC community, there is a high concentration in Europe and the United States, which contrasts with a low mobility towards the Asia region . In this sense, and considering the relevance of Asia in today’s globalized world, its cultural richness, the growing quality of its universities, the proposal is to promote mobility with this region.

“The understanding of the world we inhabit; the effective communication that is born from active listening; creativity and adaptability to new situations; this, together with the care of our common home through sustainable actions, are just some examples of the knowledge, skills and abilities that need to be developed in our university community” – Rector Ignacio Sánchez

The launching ceremony was headed by UC authorities, with the visit of authorities from the Ministry of Education, research directors, academics and guests from other study houses. In addition, the event featured a keynote address by Betty Leask , Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Education at La Trobe University , Australia , and an expert in the work of internationalizing the curriculum in higher education.

In the instance, the rector Ignacio Sánchez highlighted the work of the team that leads this project, emphasizing the articulation that has occurred between the different units. He also pointed out that it is a great milestone, a new look at internationalization, which will be very beneficial for the university community and institutional networks . Likewise, he emphasized that before there was a major focus on mobility, but today intercultural skills and international awareness are necessary for comprehensive development , not only for professional development but also for personal development.

“The understanding of the world we inhabit; the effective communication that is born from active listening; creativity and adaptability to new situations; this, together with the care of our common home through sustainable actions, are just some examples of the knowledge, skills and abilities that need to be developed in our university community” , added Sánchez.

For his part, Thomas Griggs, head of the Division of University Education of the Undersecretary of Education , highlighted the initiative within the framework of the work focused on strengthening higher education institutions . In addition, he highlighted the collaborative work between institutions, which contributes significantly to the comprehensive quality of training.

“This project is very much in line with what this ministry and particularly this undersecretary wants to achieve, and that is a reconceptualization of the comprehensive quality of the academic offer and the teaching that is offered to students. We see that the internationalization of the curriculum and the experiences that they can receive are tremendously important” , he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Academic Vice Chancellor Fernando Purcell emphasized the work on internationalization that has been carried out for decades by the university , and the great advances in the graduate profile that UC has. However, he stressed the importance of continuing to strengthen this area even more . In this sense, this initiative aims to join the global changes in university education.

“The path of internationalization and the development of global skills prepares us to contribute in a better way to today’s world, inspires us to generate creative solutions to complex challenges, including those that we do not yet know. In addition, it trains us to contribute in a better way to healthy coexistence and create the mutual understanding that we so much need,” he added.

Progress and milestones of the project
Maribel Flórez, director of Global Training of the Vice-Rectory for International Affairs and deputy director of this project, presented more details of the work that the team has been carrying out within the framework of the initiative. Starting with a historical analysis of internationalization at the university and of experiences and different indicators, with the aim of defining global skills and internationalization at home .

Along the same lines, the team has made progress in strengthening the curriculum, working together with students and academics, focusing efforts on highlighting the importance of language, carrying out cultural activities and generating training in collaborative teaching . On the other hand, progress is being made in offering a different, inclusive, service-oriented mobility that encourages leadership. This, with a focus on Asia.

“This undergraduate internationalization project at UC focuses on internationalizing the undergraduate educational project to contribute to better quality education for all students, giving them the necessary tools to contribute to a changing and globalized society,” he explained.

The Director of Global Training of the Vice President for International Affairs also explained that this project continues the efforts of the university, in the process of promoting internationalization and highlighted how it will collaboratively unite various units throughout the university.

“We hope that this project will have a significant impact on the country, that our experience as a university will allow us to create awareness in Chile about the impact of international education. That it will expand the horizon of traditional mobility, and that it will also allow us to reach students more and also promote experiences that have a more relevant meaning, that make a difference in people’s lives” , added Flórez.

“This project focuses on internationalizing the undergraduate educational project to contribute to better quality training for all students, giving them the necessary tools to contribute to a changing and globalized society” –Maribel Flórez, Director of Global Training of the Vice-Rectory for Foreign Affairs international

A central and integrated strategy
At the close of the event, Professor Betty Leask gave her keynote speech on a holistic view of internationalization at home. Professor Leask is known as a researcher, consultant and leader on the concept of internationalizing the global curriculum, teaching and learning in higher education contexts.

Professor Leask –who connected by Zoom from Australia– commented on why it is important to talk about holistic internationalization in this “complex world, made up of fragile local and global relationships between people and their physical, cultural and political environments” . She also stressed that it is important to implement these types of projects since in universities and higher education systems, social impact on a global scale has become a key objective.


For holistic internationalization to be effective, Professor Leask stated, it is necessary to think differently about the university curriculum , where internationalization at home with optional activities must be moved to a “central and integrated strategy” that contemplates the formal curriculum, an informal curriculum (with extracurricular activities and experiences) and a “hidden curriculum” , with unintentional messages that aim to internationalize the university experience . The goal, says Leask, is to achieve a focus on terms such as learning, citizenship and global competencies throughout the university community.

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