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Interview: Marjo Baeten is the new coordinator of HAS International Projects

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  4. Interview: Marjo Baeten is the new coordinator of HAS International Projects

Seven years ago, HAS University of Applied Sciences established HAS International Projects (HIP), as a central coordination point for international projects. It has since built up an attractive portfolio and it is now time for further development.

The international project portfolio offers teaching staff the opportunity to gain experience abroad. International cooperation also boosts the development of knowledge and expertise, and creates opportunities for students when it comes to internships and studies. Marjo Baeten was appointed the new coordinator of HIP in September, and is delighted to tell us more about the added value of participating in international projects.

Gaining international experience

“At HAS University of Applied Sciences, we believe it’s very important for students to gain international experience,” says Marjo. “But this is just as important for teaching staff as well. International experience broadens our prospective. Lecturers see the international trends and developments in their field of expertise and bring this knowledge to their own teaching. A trip abroad is also valuable on a personal level. HIP aims to actively encourage lecturers to go abroad. The sector in which HAS University of Applied Sciences operates is extremely international and offers great opportunities for lecturers to cross their own borders.”

Substantive contribution

Another goal of HIP is the substantive contribution that HAS University of Applied Sciences makes to international projects. Marjo: “Within international projects, HAS University of Applied Sciences focuses mainly on knowledge transfer, educational innovation and business development. We focus on 'selling' our HAS concept: Project Based Learning and working together with the stakeholders in our sector. After all, this is our forte. An example of this is the project Fresh Academy in Vietnam. Together with Dutch and Vietnamese partners, we set up a practical knowledge and training institute that is expected to prove its value in the development of the horticultural sector at various locations in Vietnam over the coming years. Such projects sometimes also result in internships and final year projects.”

15 projects

She continues: “The current projects are still mainly focused on the agricultural sector, but we are busy expanding our portfolio to include food and the living environment. There are currently about 15 ongoing projects. Many of these projects fall under the Orange Knowledge Program (OKP) of NUFFIC. We also work closely with the Borderless Network. We focus mainly on Asia and Africa, but also increasingly on Eastern Europe."

Marjo Baeten visited the project ePIVOT in Kenya in 2019.

Corona crisis

What impact is the corona crisis having on the project portfolio? “The ongoing projects generally continuing to run," Marjo explains. “A lot is being done online. For example, there’s a project in Kenya (ePIVOT) that focuses on improving the link between education and business, and setting up an internship programme for secondary vocational education. The parties have already met. It’s great that we know each other’s strengths."

Understanding

Marjo: “It’s more difficult with projects that have just started, and in which there hasn’t yet been an exploratory initial visit. For example, a project in Romania in which we are working on making cities greener and future-proof. It’s really about sussing things out and searching for ways to contact each other digitally as best we can. This is quite difficult, because really you just want to meet face-to-face. But we'll find a way round this too. The advantage is that everyone his having to deal with corona, so there’s a lot of understanding for each other's situation. And the virus has also made us think, which has resulted in a more conscious HIP.”