We interviewed Dr Norbert Sipos about his role as the first Director of Internationalisation at the Faculty of Business & Economics, University of Pécs (UPFBE)

Dr Sipos has been an assistant lecturer, later an assistant professor at the Faculty since 2015 and was a former Head of the TalentSpot for several years. He became the first Director of Internationalisation on the 1st of July 2022, which is a new role at the UPFBE.

These past few months created an excellent benchmark to give an overview of the topics connected to this role. Hence, we asked questions about his current tasks and projects, research areas and field of experience.

  • As a lecturer, which courses do you have?

I have a multifold teaching profile, focusing mainly on project management, principles of management and interest reconciliation with a strong labour market orientation. I consider it of utmost importance to have direct contact with Bachelor and Master students as well, to understand their actual issues first-hand.

  • What are your research areas?

Basically, I obtained my PhD focusing on the Graduate Career Tracking System of recent higher education graduates. Since then, I have never lost interest in this area by continuously offering joint research opportunities for the students. Several papers have been published to explore the potentially influencing elements of entering and being successful in the labour market. Besides, the competitiveness elements of the SMEs, the leadership-related factors, and employer branding also are considered to be important research areas.

  • Could you please tell us about your role as the Director of Internationalisation in a nutshell?

This position was created with the inauguration of the new Dean, who thought it essential to focus all the internationalisation-related elements in one hand. This includes internal and external activities, too. Basically, as a director, with the International Office, we have the responsibility to support reaching the Faculty mission: Educating excellent, solution-oriented, responsible business professionals to enhance the sustainable development of the local and the wider environment. Internationalisation is one of the functions which is indispensable for reaching it.

  • Would you tell us more about the new internationalisation projects?

Several initiatives have been launched. First of all, a new internationalisation guidelines document has been created to identify the most important upcoming tasks and duties. It is definitively not a strategy, as for that purpose, there is the Faculty’s one. In this way, the synergies between internationalisation and the Faculty goals are ensured. The other programmes offer opportunities of internationalisation for the UPFBE students and staff. The new motto of the International Office is as follows: „There is no high quality and labour market orientated education without international experience.”

  • Which are the most exciting changes you introduced in the internationalisation of the UPFBE?

I genuinely believe in the efficiency of the work. Therefore, it is crucial to communicate the programmes and the opportunities to the stakeholders. This leads to the understanding of the International Office’s roles and responsibilities and also helps limiting the human resources on the core tasks and competencies. Beyond this basic goal, I don’t believe that I introduced major changes, only reshaping the framework and emphasising some elements, such as automatisation, the importance of supporting those with fewer opportunities, and the creation of clear documents regarding the most relevant programmes (like Compulsory International Experience or Visiting Professor Programme).

  • You introduced the compulsory international experience (CIX); would you tell us about it?

It’s been a long time thinking about how the compulsory international experience programme should be applied to support the internationalisation of students and colleagues. Even the EFMD EPAS accreditation stimulates this aspect. Thanks to this, every interested party knows how to earn international points (e.g., through mobility, participation in joint research and teaching programmes or occasions where non-UPFBE participants are present). Basically, I consider CIX every programme where there is an opportunity to interact with somebody outside the mere students or colleagues being in Hungary. This could even be in Hungary or Pécs if the participants travel here or there is an online event. Now, we have already surveyed the colleagues teaching at the international programmes, and the first-year students’ actual status survey is on its way. 10 points are required to obtain for the colleagues on a two-year basis, while the students won’t receive their degree without earning 20 international points. 

  • The VPP program sounds interesting; can you tell us more about it?

The Visiting Professor Programmes strives to show on what ground colleagues can come from all over the world to the UPFBE. The three categories offer different financing schemes but are also accompanied by different expectations. In the Visiting Lecturer category, e.g., the researchers or academicians can be financed by Erasmus, or the accommodation and transfer-related expenses are covered. At the same time, 8 hours should be taught and participation at the International Teaching Week is required or beyond the 8 hours, one research seminar should be held for UPFBE lecturers and PhD students.

  • As Director of Internationalisation, you are the professional Leader of the International Office of the UPFBE. Can you give us an insight into the programmes managed by the IO?

One of the tasks is to manage the already mentioned programmes (CIX, VPP) and support the realisation of the Faculty’s strategy and accreditation-related issues. On the other hand, the office coordinates international student recruitment and admission, incoming and outgoing student exchanges, as well as teaching mobility. The IO links with universities and other organisations and assists the organisation of international events, be it conferences or short-term programmes (e.g., Strategic Partnership Summit, International Advisory Board, International Teaching Week).