The international website Debrecen4U, launched today by the Municipality of Debrecen, can be regarded as a major result towards achieving Debrecen’s objectives in the field of internationalisation. Justified by the growing number of foreign students at the University of Debrecen, as well as the lively economic development and the arrival of large multinational companies, internationalisation is an activity filling in a gap in Debrecen. This process, however, was actually kick-started earlier by the international project titled “Welcoming International Talent” (short name: WIT), implemented in the URBACT programme (a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development), in which EDC Debrecen participated between 2018 and 2021, representing the city.
In the framework of the WIT project, the lead city of the partnership, Groningen, Netherlands, shared its operational models, solutions and best practices developed during the internationalisation process. Joining the project was a fortunate coincidence with the realisation that internationalisation has a longer-term relevance in Debrecen.
Over the past 5 years, the city and EDC Debrecen have launched a number of initiatives that have anticipated the process of internationalisation. In 2016, EDC Debrecen founded the Debrecen Business Expat Club, which is currently helping more than 50 expats (highly qualified international employees living and working in Hungary) to become better integrated into the city’s bloodstream. Currently, more than 30 companies from 11 countries (USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, China, South Korea, France, Japan, Israel, and the United Kingdom) pursue business activities in Debrecen, contributing to internationalisation and the cultural diversity of the city.
Foreign investments in the city have also attracted the need to develop international education. As a result, in 2019, the city established the International School of Debrecen, following the IB programme and offering education in English, where 160 children are currently studying. In addition, the foundations have been laid for the Deutsche Schule, which is expected to open in September 2022, operated by the General Cultural Centre for Germans in Hungary, which is a guarantee of the high-quality of the educational programme.
The University of Debrecen currently has more than 6,800 foreign students, who can participate in the activities of international institutes such as the Confucius Institute, Alliance Française Hongrie, the American Corner or Deutsches Kulturforum. This provides excellent opportunities for integration into local communities, networking and even career development.
The need for internationalisation
The development processes in the city have necessarily required internationalisation to be elevated to a strategic level, as all the focus areas of the Debrecen2030 programme (transport development, economic development, education, quality of life and culture) are closely related to it. For example, economic development and education can be linked to expats living in the city and working for large multinational companies, as well as to university students from abroad, whose numbers are expected to increase further as a result of these trends.
The need is also underlined by the presence of large foreign companies with a continuing interest in the city: since its foundation in 2015, EDC Debrecen has successfully contributed to seversal foreign investments, re-investments and the company is also engaged in numerous negotiations with potential investors.
Debrecen’s main objective in the field of internationalisation is to ensure that the city is prepared to welcome expats, their families, as well as international students, who come to work or study in the city, and to support also those already living here, including their integration into local communities and helping them to thrive in their daily lives. Further aim is to make internationals feel as comfortable as possible in the city and to ensure that their expertise and skills contribute to the long-term creation of high added value and thereby to the development of the city.
The Debrecen4U website (www.debrecen4u.hu)
The Debrecen4U international website helps internationals living in Debrecen or planning to move here for a shorter or longer period to find out about the city and the services available here, thus facilitating their decision to relocate or to stay in Debrecen temporarily or even permanently.
The Debrecen4U website is unique among cities of its size in East-Central Europe. For example Brno, Ostrava and Wroclaw have such a website for internationals.
The Debrecen4U portal gives an opportunity to local service providers able to offer high-quality services to internationals living in the city in English to register. After registration, the contacted/invited stores and businesses become visible to the website users, who can give feedback on the quality of the services they received. This will enable us to provide a good quality of services in our city also to internationals.
Photo: Szabolcs Kandert