In this story the emphasis is definitely on international alumni relations. But why are these relations so enormously important? Because the cooperation which is driven not just by business and diplomatic interest but by greater common ground and personal experiences, will be more effective in the long-run. And this common root and experience is: Hungary.
Since decades, a lot of foreign students have decided to come to Hungary and gain university degree in different professional fields through scholarships or as self-financed students. So it is also very important to nurture these relations after graduation and try to bring out the most of it. A lot of former students are now ambassadors, consuls, well-known experts and practitioners who still want to find the way to cooperate after so many years. The idea of the International Alumni Workshop which was organized by the Tempus Public Foundation and initiated by the Ministry of Human Capacities, was motivated by this fact. And this all happened with the participation of more than 60 medical doctors, experts and representatives from 26 countries, so it was a really colourful and exciting event. Last but not least, with the organisation of this event, we also wanted to respond to the need that was identified by the participants of the 1st International Alumni Meeting in October 2016: via organizing smaller scale international events we ensure that senior alumni members working in given professional fields can establish cooperation with Hungarian experts, institutions and companies. But why healthcare and innovation?
Hungarian medical research and science were always well-know all over the world and relating higher education studies are still very popular among foreign students. Prof. Dr. József Bódis, State Secretary for Education said at the event that Semmelweis and other great minds have established a system and reputation that we have to maintain through innovation and international cooperation. This could also enhance the high-level competitiveness of the Hungarian higher education institutions related to the medical field. A lot of institutions are in the first 1000 among 28 000 universities and colleges worldwide, like Semmelweis University, Eötvös Loránd University, University of Pécs, University of Szeged, Budapest University of Technology and Economics and University of Debrecen. And a lot of other institutions are very active internationally too, so there is a lot more potential. But if we want to establish future cooperation and joint research and innovation programmes, first we have to show what is happening at the Hungarian medical and technical universities. And we can proudly say, there is a lot to talk about.
On the first day of the workshop, participants had the chance to visit their alma mater institutions to find out more about the current state of the universities from first hand. They met professors, directors and discussed future cooperation opportunities. Alumni of the University of Pécs could for instance visit the 3D lab, which was established few years ago in close partnership with the University of Debrecen and other partners.
To ensure that every medical related universities have an opportunity to introduce themselves, we invited representatives of 8 universities to give the audience a short insight about institutional research and innovation. And they have a lot to offer…from strategic partnerships, through industrial cooperation, to joint degree programmes. So for foreign students from the field of medicine or engineering coming to Hungary means that they will gain strong practical knowledge and will have great chances to participate in international projects including all the STEM fields, biomedical topics, robotics etc. (we will share each university presentation on the Alumni Hungary Portal in the near future).
Beside these great Hungarian achievements we also wanted to preserve the classical alumni meeting programme and offer a platform for international alumni members to share their professional success stories. There were amazing presentations for example about health branding, first aid in underdeveloped areas, caring for vulnerable populations, health tourism, public-private partnerships etc.
Such an international alumni event has been organised by the Alumni Hungary team for the second time, and we have experienced the same gratitude and kindness that we experience every time, when we meet alumni from all over the world.
These events are not just important because of Hungarian and foreign partnerships, but we also want to give life-long experiences and memories to our alumni members, as well as to create a community through which they can realize their own professional goals too. They also help us to develop the network through great ideas and suggestions, and we can have a better understanding related to their thoughts and conceptions about what should an international alumni network look like.
Hopefully we can continue this activity in order to involve more and more alumni members, and to motivate further cooperations. We as an alumni team are really grateful for our work and for the people we meet.