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Tūrība currently has 3,600 students in total, of which around 850 are foreigners from 38 different nations. India, Uzbekistan and Ukraine fill the top three spots among foreign student numbers with France and Germany next in line, which exhibits impressive geographical reach for an academic institution founded 25 years ago. It stresses practice over theory and personal responsibility over merely turning up to fulfil the syllabus, which has a strong bias towards business.
“The decision to start recuiting students from abroad was quite a challenge for ourselves, both academically and technically but also for society and public bodies. But without it, you'll never change. First we aimed for foreign students but now we are also looking for foreign teachers, giving us an extra challenge. In 2006 we were in last place among Latvian Universities for internationalisation. A lot has changed in 12 years,” says Imants.
“From about 2007, I started to travel to prospective markets, and at first you think, okay, China has 1.5 billion, India has a billion, let's go there. But you go and perhaps think you can't do anything – but then you get to know some people, go to conferences, go to fairs, and find some crazy agent who is ready to work with you. It's communication. Communication is the key. You have to visit partners, they have to visit you. You have to keep the relationship at a certain level.”
“It doesn't just take one cup of coffee to have a business partner,” he says, pointing at his cappucino, “you have to keep it warm and keep it refilled. You have to find out how people live and treat them as human beings. One of the best things I hear in my job is: 'I chose you because you came in person'.”
But that takes considerable dedication, particularly in a world where making contact via social media or emails is seductively easy and much less hassle than negotiating airports and hotels.
Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, China, Czech Republic , Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, France, Georgia, India, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan