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“El Mercurio” Compares Heidelberg’s Santiago Center with Harvard and Stanford

1 October 2007

"Heidelberg is one of the international universities in Santiago that see Chile as a country where teachers and students can broaden their vistas in the present-day world of globalisation”

"International universities ‘land’ in Chile” is the headline on the front page of the 24 September 2007 issue of Chile’s influential newspaper "El Mercurio”. The article compares the Heidelberg Center in Santiago with the outstations of Harvard and Stanford in the same city. Here are some selected passages.

"Today it is no longer necessary to travel to Germany to attend lectures at the University of Heidelberg. This venerable seat of learning now has a Center of its own in Santiago offering doctoral courses, certificate courses and German language instruction. Heidelberg is one of the international universities in Santiago that see Chile as a country where teachers and students can broaden their vistas in the present-day world of globalisation. The North American universities Harvard and Stanford also belong to this group, but their emphasis is on ‘exporting’ their own students to Chile.”

Harvard was not the first university to establish itself here. Since 1990 Stanford has been welcoming 120 students a year at its small outstation in the district of Providencia. They come here to attend courses on Latin America. The special feature of the Stanford model — on offer in ten other countries as well — is that the students are taught not at Chilean institutions but on the university’s own premises. Chilean professors have been recruited to run some of the courses.

According to El Mercurio, Chile was "the indisputable attraction” for Harvard and Stanford in Latin America. "In our view Chile was a stable country,” says the director of the Stanford branch, Iván Jaksic, "and it’s far enough away to fire the students’ imagination.” Argentina’s economic recovery has however taken just a little of the shine off this prospect. The University of New York announced a few weeks ago that Buenos Aires was the location selected for one of its outstations in South America. "Chile is still a popular place,” says Steve Reifenberg, director of the Harvard branch, "but Buenos Aires is also extremely attractive. For us this city is the New York of South America.”

El Mercurio: "The policy of the University of Heidelberg is completely different from that of the North American universities. The only international outstation of this German university was established in 2002 with the purpose of ‘exporting our academic excellence to Chile,’ says Walter Eckel, managing director of the Center. The facilities on offer are not angled at Heidelberg’s own students. The institution functions more like a ‘mini-university’ developing and conducting postgraduate study courses. In collaboration with the Universidad Católica and the Universidad de Chile it offers Master’s and doctoral programmes in law and psychotherapy concluding with a double degree. It further provides German courses and a certificate course ("New Challenges to the Rule of Law”) that is already on offer in Paraguay and will be starting up in Ecuador in 2008. ‘Our aim,’ says Eckel, ‘is to develop study programmes in conjunction with the Chilean universities that will attract students to Chile from all over the world.’

Though these three models differ on a number of points, the main concern is the same in all of them: to have a place where professors and students can acquire knowledge of the world. ‘We create work and a relationship to the country,’ says Jaksic. ‘When the students come back home, some of them write their exam theses on the subject of Chile.’”

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Walter Eckel

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
Editor: Email
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