UAlberta students get more opportunities to study in Germany

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta’s international connections are being strengthened with more opportunities for students to go to Germany for internships in all disciplines, from politics and engineering to arts and health sciences.

Leading institutions in Germany, such as the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, have been collaborating closely with the U of A as part of the university’s international engagement strategy, which connects students and researchers with their counterparts around the world to help find solutions to global issues through teaching, research and learning.

Britta Baron, vice-provost and associate vice-president (international) says the expanded internship programs will deepen students’ academic experience.

“The internships will open opportunities for our students to undertake experiential learning directly connected to their areas of study,” says Baron. “So, for example, for an arts student studying for a degree in drama, we want that student to spend some time with an opera house in Berlin.

“We want our students to succeed in life, to come out on top professionally and personally. Of course we’re providing a first-class academic experience at the U of A, but beyond that, students today need more than just a degree. They need skills and qualifications that are not acquired in the classroom,” says Baron.

Giving students a chance to gain those skills is being made possible through University of Alberta International’s Education Abroad program. The program’s Berlin-based internship liaison, Ira Rückert, is helping to deliver on the university’s commitment to provide an international experience for students.

Rückert says internships are available in universities and research organizations, and also in public administration, business and cultural institutions. “I currently have several placements for research internships that are available in various universities within Germany,” she says. “For example, there’s currently a student who wants to do a research internship in the area of hearing, and she would be doing work at the Tübingen Hearing Research Centre. We have students from engineering who have gone to universities across Germany.

“There are several internships in the areas of information technology, sustainability and renewable energy, such as with the German Biomass Research Centre in Saxony. We’re now looking for a student to take that opportunity. There’s also the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, which is the main and the most important think tank for German and European issues, economically, socially and politically.”

Among German institutions with which U of A students could get internships are the Bundestag—the German parliament—where a student is working alongside a German politician. Rückert says it’s an unusual internship for a Canadian student.

“This is the first time I think a student from the U of A has gone to the Bundestag. The student will be working with a parliamentarian for three months. I’ve met with him and he’s very happy because it’s a big opportunity for him. And last year, we had another student who went to the European parliament in Brussels. We also have a variety of institutions, like the federal association of trade unions, and they pay student interns,” she says.

Rückert says she will work directly with students to find internship positions that interest them. She says different kinds of theatres and galleries are interested in taking students from the U of A. “Canada is a country people like, so whenever we mention Canada, the first thing we hear is, ‘Oh, yes, we would love to have your students because it will enrich our company’s life.”’

Baron says Germany is ideal for the calibre of students studying at the U of A. “In many ways Germany is a very advanced country academically and scientifically, and also in how it organizes its society. It’s also advanced in its culture and cultural production; it’s a go-to place for modern art, design and fashion. There’s a lot of avant-garde development that our students can plug into in Germany.”