Building International Connections

2014-2015 Issue 1

globe_peopleFiras Alhafidh has an office on McGill campus, but an eye on the world. As Director of Language and Intercultural Communication for McGill’s School of Continuing Studies, he’s been undertaking some major new initiatives as part of the unit’s strategic plan. “We’ve done a lot to expand our coverage and branding, both internationally and domestically,” says Alhafidh. “It’s part of our goal to establish the Language and Intercultural Communication unit as collaborators within McGill. We’re looking to increase our visibility, and we’re looking for new regions and potential partners.”

That’s in addition to the unit’s existing international partners, of which there are many. There is a long-term agreement with the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (Tec de Monterrey), one of the largest multi-campus universities in Latin America, which has expanded from language courses to include professional development courses and internships. “We provide them with multiple offerings to meet their needs, and they’re coming back to us on a regular basis with more potential collaboration initiatives.”

The unit also has “long-standing relations with various universities in Japan that come to us every summer, and we’ve hosted delegations from Russia, China, and Korea. We are constantly promoting Montreal and McGill as a destination for quality education, and we always look for opportunities to work with other McGill Faculties, such as the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.”

Then there’s the ongoing collaboration project in Saudi Arabia, which began three years ago and has “evolved into us providing know-how in teaching English for post-secondary institutions.
We are planning new academic projects,” which are on track to be implemented by September 2015. “We start with small projects and then expand to other disciplines. The idea is to develop academic collaboration models with trusted partners on a national and international level.”

Dr. Carmen Sicilia, Director of Career and Professional Development, has similar plans. With so many universities encouraging their students to study abroad, her unit has established partnerships with several foreign institutions. Three high-profile examples are FAPPES (Faculdade Paulista de Pesquisa e Ensino Superior) in Brazil, Tec de Monterrey, which is based in Mexico, and Paris’s EBS (European Business School). “Many of these students are taking our credit courses to count towards their master’s degree,” explains Sicilia. “Management, marketing and communications courses are really popular, and our professional development certificate in digital content and community management is getting a lot of buzz as well.”

Another partner is the World Bank Group, which is collaborating with the School on a professional development program for parliamentary staff. Participants from all over the world, many from developing countries, are expected to attend a one week residency seminar in May 2015.

But the School is also extending its international reach. Airport Law for Managers, a three-day aviation management course offered in partnership with the ACI (Airport Council International) is typically held on the McGill campus. Next year, however, it will be offered in Abu Dhabi, UAE. “We’re definitely targeting an international market,” says Sicila.

As is Dr. Guy Mineau, Director of Faculty Partnerships and Summer Studies. He’s building McGill’s international reputation through academic programs designed to provide international students with the McGill experience. What initially began as the Summer Session initiative has now expanded to include fall and winter activities, and the unit is actively “looking for ways to develop relationships with other universities, either for short periods, a full semester, or a full year”.

All three directors have a similar vision for the future of the School of Continuing Studies. “We want to be seen as the institution to work with for high-quality academic programming,” says Alhafidh, “both in Montreal, and abroad.”

Comments are closed.