As many internationalisation strategies at institutions around Europe have begun to take hold, discussions throughout the three-day event focused on subsequent phases of the plans: expanding internationalisation to the overall institution, improving practices, or providing international experiences for students in nuanced ways.
Opening the event, Chairman of Europe Microsoft Corporation Jan Muehlfeit highlighted one of the key motivators for providing an internationalised education. “This is the first time in human history because of global connectivity we will have global competition for jobs,” he said.
Muehlfeit also identified a gap between the “blackboard and chalk” used in classrooms and the technology students are reliant upon at home. “We need to merge those,” he said. “We need to think about the fact we have this young generation coming in which needs to be educated in a different way.”
“This is the first time in human history because of global connectivity we will have global competition for jobs”
Seminars from the event discussed ways to establish quality joint programmes with foreign partners, the challenges and benefits of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) and how higher education institutions worldwide can assist providers in conflict stricken areas.
Expanding internationalisation efforts beyond foreign student recruitment or staff exchange was also an emergent theme among delegates.
“I was delighted to see people talking about experiential internationalisation for students and also there was an interesting session about focusing more on academic staff,” commented Elspeth Jones Professor Emerita at Leeds Metropolitan University and this year’s recipient of the Tony Adams Award for Excellence in Research.
“We don’t only need to develop global competency in our students but also in our staff.”
Meanwhile, mystery shopper research presented by the British Council and Study Portals revealed institutions in the UK and Ireland, more so than their European or North American counterparts, were the best at providing clear, mobile accessible information for students on their websites.
However, some 20% of the top 500 universities did not even respond to online inquiries from students.
“Internationalisation is becoming more and more a part of being a good institution and providing a good education”
Turning the magnifying glass around, results from EAIE barometer, which aims to provide insight on the day to day practices of international education practitioners, showed that most agreed that the most important reason to internationalise was to improve the quality of eduction provided at an institution.
Based on an online survey carried out this spring, findings also show that in most countries there is a lack of project/programme management skills among internationalisation practitioners.
Leadership of the organisation was passed on to Laura Howard, Director of International Relations at University of Cadiz.
Outgoing president Hans-Georg van Liempd International Strategist at Tilburg University in the Netherlands said the conference provided attendees with quality content and people.
“This conference is different. It’s the atmosphere and the people want to network to learn new things and meet new people,” he said.
“But I think what is becoming more and more apparent if you look at who is coming to the conference it’s not only the practitioners anymore,” he added.
“That is reflective of the fact that internationalisation is becoming more and more a part of being a good institution and providing a good education, it is embedded in the institution and no longer at the periphery in an office somewhere doing things with the outside world.”