Uluslararası Üniversite: Mezunların Rolü

16 Kasım 2016 

Uluslararası Üniversite: Mezunların Rolü

Araştırma ve Geliştirmeden Sorumlu Rektör Yardımcılığı ofisinde Global Engagement Coordinator olarak görev yapan Melissa Abache ile Koç Üniversitesi’nin uluslararasılaşma süreci ve bu süreçte mezunların rolleri hakkında görüştük.

Why is internationalization an important element of Koç University’s development?
Internationalisation is now a widely adopted concept in all the major higher education institutions in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and others.

At Koç University we are now ranked 1st in Turkey in major university rankings such as Times Higher Education, we offer all our programs in English, we receive research funding from European agencies and we have international faculty and students in our campus each year but this doesn’t mean in itself that we are a truly international university yet.

Internationalization shoud always be understood as a means to and end: in the process of becoming more international in our curriculum, in the diversity of our student and faculty body, in the number and geographical spread of partners we collaborate with, in the opportunities to gain an international work or service learning experience as a student and other dimensions, the university is ultimately trying to enhance the quality of education offered to prepare our students for life and work in an intercultural and globalised world.

We are currently developing a Strategic Internationalization Plan (SIP) to help coordinate all efforts. Over time, we want to progress towards a more integrated understanding of internationalisation in which there is more than an ad hoc collection of operational activities and it becomes firmly embedded in the culture and operations of our university.

What challenges do you face in engaging alumni for internationalization?

Koç University’s Turkish alumni abroad are mostly pursuing graduate programs in prestigious universities or to a lesser degree have started their international careers at multinational or international companies or institutions.

We shouldn’t forget that we also have a small but growing international alumni community who decide to return to their home country or continue their international journey in European, US or Asian universities or companies.

As an institution we find it challenging to maintain and grow links with our Turkish alumni abroad and our international alumni community in a strategically consistent way but there are many ways in which we can establish programmes that add value to internationalization and engage our alumni positively.

So far, our alumni have been fantastic in responding to ad-hoc calls to help us by being Alumni Ambassadors at small student recruitment fairs, offering their support to raise awarenes of our graduate scholarships amongst their colleagues and participating in career specific panels and seminar. With the Office of International Programs we have organized small gatherings in Boston, Baku, Singapore in 2015 and 2016.

However, our ability to grow our international alumni engagement activity is underpinned by the quality of data we have; we may have ideas for exciting programs or projects that can quickly fade if you as an alumnea are unreachable, or if the design of a programme is based on inaccurate information (occupational data, for example).

How can individual alumnae help to internationalize Koç University?

My key call to action for our alumi today is to:
1. make sure you provide up-to-date information through surveys or the new Alumni database
2. add that you attended Koç University to your LinkedIn profile and rate the university on sites like StudyAdvisory.org
3. Follow our graduate Facebook (/KUGraduate) and Twitter (@KocUnivGrad)

Having said that, below are three possible “baby-steps” ways or activities we have observed in other world-class universities that we are very much interested in developing in the future with guidance and feedback from you:
1) Supporting academic development:
a. If you speak Russian, Arabic, Spanish, French, Persian, Azeri, Mandarin or other languages we can offer volunteering opportunities to translate materials associated with academic projects or others that can help future students (eg. new KU Mobile App, program brochures, etc).
b. If you work at an institution that has a clear mandate or thought leadership in an issue (US Elections, Brexit, Paris Climate Change Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals, Global Financial Markets, AI to give some examples) we can help organise an event (seminar/guest lecture/webinar) to share your expertise and help students contextualise local issues within a global context.
c. If you are a Law, Business or Engineering graduate and working in an international company you could offer insights to the Dean or individual faculty about how the curriculum relates to what global employers value in new recruits, and helping to propose case study materials that help students’ global outlook.

2) Developing links through your connections:
a. you can help Koç University establish or accelerate links with companies or universities that may be otherwise hard to access or slow to reach
b. you can help raise the international profile of the university through your networks or giving a quick written or video testimonial of your experience at Koç. This is especially important for Koç University as we are a relatively unfamiliar university in some international markets like China and India.

3) Become an “Alumni Employment Guru”:
a. You can help our Career Development Center to draft labour market guides for students interested in working in a specific country (eg China, United States, Germany, Iran, etc) based on your experience and especially if your occupation is directly linked to human resources.

What do our alumni gain from this?
• Enable you to use your language skills remotely to add value to Koç University’s academic activity whilst adding to your CV and challenging you to practice language skills in a formal environment where precision is essential.
• A chance to reconnect with your academic subject and link back to an aspect of your time here that you remember fondly
• Apply your specialist or country knowledge to provide observable benefits to students and seeing a tangible product associated with your efforts (eg. Labour market guides)
• Critically, if you are not in Istanbul you can also contribute remotely, and these initiatives brings you and other internationally based alumni together in teams to work collectively on a specific project – in this way also supporting the development of international alumni networks and the benefits that these can bring career advancement, new jobs and business development.

You can always contact the Alumni Office to share your thoughts on these ideas!