The application from the university followed the positive experience that it had had with Vi activities in the preceding two years. Santo Tomás students had taken part in the last two annual Vi study tours for Colombian universities. In addition, the Vi arranged for an UNCTAD expert to contribute to a congress organized by the university in November 2012.
The Vi's counterpart at the university will be the Faculty of International Business, whose dean, Nohora Rodríguez, first established contact with the Vi in 2011, during a visit to Geneva.
The Faculty offers a one-year postgraduate programme in export management, comprising courses related to international trade theory, the international economic and political environment for business operations, international logistics, international finance, and electronic commerce.
Recently published research in the university's journal Lebret includes an analysis of the process for exporting to the United States, used by the apparel industry in the Santander region. Other research projects relate to the competitiveness of strategic sectors in the Santander region, and analyse the auto parts sectors in Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico, in the context of free trade agreements with the United States and the prospects for Colombia.
The university has established close cooperation with the Bucaramanga city authorities, providing research on the competitiveness of Santander's main export sectors, namely the footwear, apparel and jewellery industries. It also has an office in the free trade zone, where it advises entrepreneurs on trends in international markets and other international business topics.
The university's participation in the Vi will be coordinated by Julio Ramírez Montañez, who directs the research group at the Faculty and is a professor of international relations.
The university is interested in training for its lecturers and students, in staff and student exchanges with universities in the Vi network, and in speakers' contributions to its conferences and training programmes. In turn, it is ready to offer the same, as well as Spanish language courses for students and staff from Vi member universities.