Two VMU lecturer delegations visited prestigious universities and education institutions in the UK, South Korea and Japan in mid-January. The stopovers were used to discuss internationalisation of Asian studies at VMU. Scholars met with colleagues at universities in Leeds, Sheffield and London (SOAS) in the UK, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Kangwon National University and Academy of Korean Studies in South Korea, and Meiji and Osaka universities in Japan.
Discussions during the meetings were dedicated not only to opportunities for building a joint East Asian study programme, but also student and lecturer exchange and research collaborations. The talks brought positive results: members of the delegation came away from the trip with offers to sign collaborative contracts and arranged for even larger numbers of foreign university lecturers to teach lectures for East Asian programmes at VMU.
“Discussions were very fruitful”, enthused one of the participants, Dean of Faculty of Humanities at VMU, Prof. Ineta Dabašinskienė. “Their outcome will undoubtedly help improve the already implemented Master’s degree programme of East Asia Region Studies, and has had a profound significance on the new BA programme, East Asian Cultures and Languages.
At the moment, VMU is bound by 14 bilateral agreementssigned with universities in East Asia – the largest number among the Baltic countries. Every year about a dozen of VMU’s motivated students travel to study in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and their numbers are rapidly increasing.
This lecturer internship trip was financed as part of an EU project titled “Galimybių studija Azijos studijų tarptautiškumo plėtrai VDU” (Feasibility Study of Internationalisation of Asian Studies at VMU). The main goal of the project is to research the possibilities for a joint East Asia Region Studies programme and signed the related memorandums with potential partner universities. The prepared feasibility study will not only help determine the possibilities and demand for a joint study programme, but will also bring universal benefits due to newly established relations, possibilities for different collaborations (academic exchange, joint research and projects). During their internships, lecturers will be able to support and expand their relations, initiate further collaboration in various scientific fields, etc.
The analysis of the visited universities served as a wider introduction to various study systems and innovative teaching methods. Hopes have been expressed that this will produce a wealth of good practice examples which could be applied in Lithuania and improve quality of studies here in the process, as well as expand opportunities for language learning and ensure long-term international collaborations between universities.