In the early 90’s Prof. Friedhelm Bliemel (Department of Marketing) started to establish exchange programs with North American Universities. Prof. Bliemel spend several years teaching at Canadian Universities himself. Hence, he was able to build strong relationships between our faculty of business and excellent North American business schools. Among the first exchange partners was the well known Queen’s School of Business in Canada. Over time the “STEP” program has been extended to several exchange universities in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Colombia. The core of STEP was to integrate students from Kaiserslautern in the management and building of long term relationships with the exchange universities. Students designated to spend a semester abroad worked as “Buddies” to insure a pleasant stay for our guests from overseas.
In 2001 STEP became an independent registered association. Yet, STEP was still highly involved in the management of the exchange program. Administrative tasks were fulfilled by the chair of marketing and the STEP board. Student affairs of our guests were in responsibility of STEP members.
In 2006, after the retirement of the founder Prof. Bliemel, the exchange program shifted to the chair of economics. From there on the newly established International Office manages the exchange activities. The tasks which had to be fulfilled by STEP changed significantly. Administrative tasks are now handled by the International Office exclusively. Thus, STEP was able to focus on their core business - the support of exchange students. Beside students from the Americas STEP nowadays also assists students from Asia and Europe.
The core concept of STEP still remains the same. The “Buddies” still care for the trouble-free integration of the guests at our faculty. Moreover STEP organizes several activities for international students at the business and economics faculty.
For more than 15 years the “STEP” concept stands for excellent exchange support ”“from students for students.