Interview with Luis from ULACIT
The Latin American University of Science and Technology (ULACIT) is located in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. The university has maintained a partnership with Beyond Abroad since 2021. Beyond Abroad is a study abroad provider and the sister brand of Asia Exchange. They have established partnerships with host universities in Europe, Asia, North America, and South America. They help young people from all over the world to study abroad and enjoy life-changing experiences. Nadira from Beyond Abroad interviewed Luis Filipe from ULACIT. Read the full article for more insights from the perspective of a host university and the benefits of studying in Costa Rica.
May you briefly introduce yourself to those who don’t know you?
My name is Luis Filipe, I am for global affair at ULACIT in San José Costa Rica. I’m a political scientist, and I have been working most of my professional career as a public policy advisor, mainly at governmental agencies and NGOs. I started working at Ulacit in 2019. At first, I worked as a dean of the faculty of social sciences, which has the school of Law. I was also a Director of the School of International Relations. Then, I switched to my current position as vice PROVOST of global affairs in 2020.
I started during the pandemic. Consequently, I had the opportunity to learn more about global education. I helped the University adapt its international education services because the pandemic significantly impacted higher education and study abroad services. I’m happy with this new job because it allows me to engage with universities, students, and faculty staff all over the world. Moreover, I love introducing ULACIT and Costa Rica as great study abroad destination for students abroad.
What is the history behind ULACIT’s partnership with Beyond Abroad?
First of all, Harri, the co-founder of Beyond Abroad, contacted me in 2020 and became a great associate and partner in this study abroad journey and this revamping of our study abroad services. We share the same proactive dynamic, getting straight to the point and resolving matters. That’s why we set up an agreement quickly on how we wanted to operate jointly. After that, Harri and his wife Susann visited ULACIT in Costa Rica and we all met in person. We have been working in a very coordinative, open, transparent way from that point on. Which I think is the best way to approach an international association and cooperation ship. We have been simultaneously learning how to improve our services and make our service available to more students during this partnership.
Furthermore, I’ve learned a lot about Beyond Abroad and that it is a very organized enterprise. They have a clear vision of what they want to do and accomplish. So, that is also a great asset, because as a provider, it allows me to have a clear idea of the level of quality they are aspiring to offer the students. Overall, it has been an excellent experience so far.
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Which countries is ULACIT focusing on with their international strategy?
We have relations with universities in the United States and Europe so far. Beyond Abroad has allowed us to have a better presence in European countries where they actively offer their services. It has been a great addition to the partnerships we had already established. For example, we had partnerships in France, Spain, and Germany. But with Beyond Abroad, we benefit from their broad reach and presence in many countries. That is why we are offering ULACIT through Beyond Abroad, so students from all over the world can come to our beautiful study abroad destination. It is an excellent opportunity for us!
Why do you think ULACIT is a great study abroad option?
According to the QS rankings, ULACIT has been the best private university in Costa Rica for 11 consecutive years. Moreover, ULACIT is also the best private university in Central America.
At ULACIT, we design study abroad experiences that meet three criteria:
- Firstly, we care about quality academics. Our goal is to provide the same quality and standard for international students and local students from Latin America experience at ULACIT. We guarantee high quality by setting high standards for our professors and our syllabi. Therefore, all courses are UpToDate. Our motto is: We do not educate for the present; we educate for the future.
- Secondly, we believe in experiential learning. Visiting Costa Rica as a student is a valuable intercultural learning opportunity because you learn out of context and have direct contact with the culture (music, art, dance, etc.). But you also know about the economy, politics, developing challenges, and communities.
- Lastly, students come to ULACIT not because they know the university but because they know Costa Rica and what it has to offer. We see the importance of the tourism and leisure aspect of the study abroad experience here in Costa Rica. We ensure that our students have the information, time, and logistic support to explore the country and travel around. Costa Rica has two coasts, one at the Atlantic and one at the Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, it has incredible biodiversity and everything from mountains and volcanos to rainforest and savannas. We hope that our exchange students in Costa Rica can experience this.
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How would you describe the international students of Beyond Abroad?
We found that they are very responsible. During the pandemic, we couldn’t monitor everything at any given time because all students were traveling around. But we kept in touch with their professors and asked them about the students at least three times over the semester. The feedback showed that the students were highly engaged and excellent students. Therefore, our professors were pleased. One issue, however, was the internet connection in some of the rural areas while traveling. Besides that, they have been mature and had a friendly attitude.
What advantages does the cooperation with Beyond Abroad give ULACIT?
The main advantage has been outreach. Due to our cooperation with Beyond Abroad, we have reached students from universities where we don’t have student mobility partnerships. And that is a massive benefit for positioning ULACIT internationally. We are engaged in international rankings because they guide our strategic plans. This is helpful since we strive to meet international standards.
Which challenges did you face during the partnership with Beyond Abroad?
The challenges so far have been how to adapt the student mobility services to the pandemic. Especially with social distancing and not having students on the campus. It has been more challenging to follow up on the incoming students and help them to engage in the local student community. Moreover, it has been more complicated to reach out to university contacts and students alike. However, these student mobility challenges had little to do with the partnership with Beyond Abroad. The pandemic led to universal challenges for student exchange services.
How do you see the future with the cooperation with Beyond Abroad?
I see a bright future for the partnership with Beyond Abroad. I can see ULACIT offering different study abroad experiences. For example, Beyond Abroad students could do a study abroad semester and short-term summer school or winter schools. We can develop various global education services in which ULACIT can certify intercultural or global citizenship competencies and skills. And in that sense, I think having ULACIT as a partner is an opportunity for Beyond Abroad because we have a powerful capacity for adapting services and offering quality higher education.
This partnership has great potential due to Beyond Abroad’s global reach and their access to markets on the one side, and ULACIT as a premium destination for students looking for quality study abroad experiences on the other side. This mix allows us to design innovative services together with high demands. Finally, Beyond Abroad knows how higher education is evolving and where opportunities for growth lie. It is very refreshing!
Beyond Abroad is the sister brand of Asia Exchange, a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia for students from all around the world. Since 2020 Beyond Abroad offers study abroad programs in Latin America and Europe. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly student newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
This interview was conducted by our International Coordinator Nadira