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New agreement set to connect Edmonton post-secondary students to Germany’s leading technology region

Posted on: Apr 20, 2018

A new exchange agreement will create connections for Edmonton-based post-secondary students to pursue internships in Ostwestfalen-Lippe, one of Europe’s leading technology and commercial zones.

Though Edmonton’s post-secondary students have been able to undertake exchanges to Germany in previous years, this new agreement presents an Edmonton-wide approach and expands program offerings in this specific region with the addition of internship opportunities.

Students enrolled at Concordia University of Edmonton, MacEwan University, NAIT and UAlberta will be eligible to participate on exchange or an internship program through one of the OWL Consortium universities, which include the University of Bielefeld, FH Bielefeld University of Applied Science, Paderborn University, and Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences.

With 120,000 companies and a gross domestic product of EUR 60 billion, Ostwestfalen-Lippe is one of the strongest commercial and technology centres in Germany, providing a home base to the headquarters of many major transnational companies including Miele, Dr. Oetker, Melitta, and more. Alberta students will have the chance to apply for internships in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region, which will then be facilitated by the Ostwestfalen-Lippe (OWL) consortium institutions.

“The Ostwestfalen-Lippe region offers a remarkably rich environment of closely connected corporate stakeholders; some very large and many small to medium enterprises, all globally active; and some young and dynamic universities and research institutes. This is a very special innovation ecosystem within Germany, even by international standards, which offers unique opportunities for our researchers as well as our students for collaborative work and mobility – especially for internships and work experience,” says Britta Baron, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (International), University of Alberta.

The exchange will, of course, go both ways – students enrolled in OWL Consortium Universities will also have the chance to study at one of the Edmonton-based institutions. This agreement follows several other collaborative efforts that have been undertaken by Edmonton post-secondaries in recent years, with a view to enhancing opportunities for all through the group dynamic.

“Taking a consortia approach, with collaborative groups on both sides, creates potential to build a more solid and broader network of opportunities for students and universities on both sides. Through this collective approach, we can better connect students and companies with targeted interests and skill sets that will lead to dynamic outcomes, both in terms learning and innovation,” explains Kimberley Howard, Executive Director, MacEwan International.

“This latest initiative expands on our current Edmonton collaborations which include joint welcome events for new international students” shares Terri Flanagan, Director of NAIT International. “The cooperation on our end widens the scope of opportunities that we can offer to local students, as well as international students who want to explore Edmonton as a destination for their studies.”

“Edmonton is very strong when it comes to offering a wide portfolio of world-class post-secondary programs and opportunities,” adds Dr. Manfred Zeuch, Vice President External Affairs and International Relations at Concordia University of Edmonton. “It makes sense to work together to create innovative connections that will benefit students throughout the region. We are all looking forward to expanding the opportunities that our students will have in Germany as a result of this collaboration.”

Sabine Sparwasser, German Ambassador to Canada, arrived in Edmonton for a panel discussion and agreement signing ceremony at the University of Alberta on April 18, joined by representatives from all members of the Edmonton consortium.

The event launched with a panel discussion on “The Future of German-Canadian Research Cooperation,” moderated by Britta Baron, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, International; University of Alberta with panelists Walter Dixon, Interim Vice-President Research; University of Alberta; Laura Kilcrease, CEO; Alberta Innovates; Geneviève Tanguay, Vice-President, Emerging Technologies; National Research Council; and Bernd Reuscher, President; German Canadian Center for Innovation and Research. The agreement signing and lunch reception followed.