Internationalization assumes a decisive importance in the various activities of higher education institutions, namely in what concerns training, through the diversification of contributions and experiences that it fosters and develops, either through the mobility of students, teachers and other staff, or through the hiring and the contributions from teachers and technicians from other countries, whose potential to enrich IES is significant due to the different knowledge, experiences and perspectives that they bring to organizations. In terms of research, it is irreplaceable; except in very restricted areas, scientific research needs to be approached from an international perspective, especially because the world has become globalized and the themes and problems benefit from being addressed by researchers who are integrated in networks and working collaboratively. The school’s recent experience has shown that the full integration of a foreign teacher has been an enriching factor for the organization, promoter of a better understanding of the education and teaching system of the country of origin and facilitator of contacts between researchers. The cooperation that has been developed with the University of Coruña, within the context of the degree in Physiotherapy, has been extremely enriching and it has allowed to highlight how productive these forms of international association can be. The internationalization axis will be developed bearing in mind these assumptions and considering the experience acquired but with the certainty of the existing constraints.
It has not been easy to achieve a significant number of candidates for international mobility. There are several reasons for this, including the typology of courses and the socio-economic situation of students’ families. Despite the publicity, the attention given to applicants, the reinforcement with additional grants, the number of students on mobility, whether incoming or outgoing, has been lower than desirable. It is therefore necessary to reinforce the dissemination actions, in close liaison with students with mobility experience, to deepen, with the associative structures – Students Association, Praxe Commission and Tuna – the mobilization for the idea of living an international experience, to promote a greater follow-up of the candidates and an increased attention to the personalized support, committing the whole organization to the process, especially the course coordination and all the teachers, making the mobilization for internationalization a priority objective. It is desirable that during the period of the Plan, at least 10% of the total number of students in mobility, incoming and outgoing, within the framework of the Erasmus program, while taking advantage of other possibilities, of which Santander grants stand out. As for teachers and other staff, it has been possible to use all the Erasmus grants, a situation that does not exhaust the opportunities to promote internationalization, and all the possibilities should be used in the context of conferences and projects, which involve travelling abroad, so that teachers are present and teachers from other countries travelling to Portugal in order to visit the school and make some contribution, punctual or longer, in activities that may range from a mere specific presentation to collaboration in more in-depth learning activities. We wish to establish networks of contacts with national and international organizations that can contribute to favour mobility and to organize specific events with other schools that promote the proximity of ESSSM students to other higher education schools where mobility practices are much more developed and can act as a stimulus to the desire to live a similar experience.
Internationalization of teachers
Internationalization is much more than mobility; it is the creation of a perspective open to the world, a way of looking at formative and research work, and for this to be a reality it is essential that the teaching staff integrate teachers of other nationalities who, coming from different places, with other backgrounds, with other experiences and networks of contacts and diverse perspectives, can become enriching forces to the work developed at school and to the school’s own culture. It is widely recognized that institutions develop with diversity, openness, creativity, innovation, and that they stall when they fit in and adopt ingrained policies. During the time of implementation of the Plan, it is desirable to reach a percentage of at least 5% of foreign teachers amongst the whole teaching staff.
Internationalization of Activities
In addition to these aspects, it is very important that the school looks at its activity considering the close surrounding reality but taking the world as a reference; professionals trained in our school are able to perform their activity in any context and as such they must be prepared for it. It is not enough to look at the country and its near reality, it is necessary to know the world, its problems and challenges, to know other cultures, to speak other languages. To achieve this goal the school needs to be a stimulating and conscientious means of this reality and this goal is achieved through mobility, the contact with teachers of other nationalities, with specific activities and with the development of a school atmosphere that favours these approaches and that challenges students, on a daily basis, to feel like citizens of the world and future professionals with competence to work in any environment.