In 2015, 1,458 U.S. students came to Belgium, a 12.4% increase from the previous year. In order to harness and contribute to this increasing interest in Belgium as a study abroad destination, the Brussels Fulbright Commission organized a Study Abroad Capacity-Building Workshop geared toward Belgian educational administrators, especially of University Colleges.
The over 35 participants that filled the venue to capacity came from a wide range of institutions in Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels, and consisted mostly of international mobility and internationalization coordinators. The speakers and panelists for the day ranged from professors to school directors and government officials. Topics included “What American Students Look for in International Exchanges”, “EU Support for International Exchanges, and, lastly, a panel discussion focused on Belgium-U.S. success stories.
During his presentation, Jerome Sheridan, Director of American University’s Brussels Center and chair of the Fulbright Belgium Board, discussed the four areas of interest that American universities concentrate on when looking for partners abroad He discussed accreditation, student safety, transference of courses, and lastly reputation of the host institution.
Following Professor Sheridan, Graham Wilkie, Program Officer at the EU Directorate-General Education and Culture, addressed European Union’s financial and other means of supporting and promoting international exchanges and how Belgian institutions can harness its funding and programs.
In the high point of the day, Emeritus Professor at the Institute for European Studies Alison Woodward led a panel discussion with Belgian internationalization coordinators and a current U.S. Fulbright student researcher to showcase successful international partnerships and address questions and concerns of participants when arranging and arranging U.S. partnerships.
Over lunch, participants continued to discuss international exchange and the opportunity that it creates for various cultures to acknowledge and appreciate one another. Feedback from those who attended the workshop was highly positive. Here at Fulbright, we hope to continue creating welcoming spaces that allow for discussion and idea creation on how to increase international exchanges.