Themed Encompassing All Voices, the conference challenged European and global higher education providers to improve cooperation across borders in order to help students address concerns around rising inequality, nationalism and climate change.
“The problem we have is we have [dominant stories]”
“We, here in society, back home, being international educators, we are facing challenging times,” EAIE president Sabine Pendl said.
In his address, policy advisor and Good Country Index founder Simon Anholt said current challenges were being experienced on a global scale and required a global response.
“The problem with the world that we’re living in at the moment is that our problems, our challenges, are more globalised than our solutions. This is the imbalance,” he said.
Anholt added HEIs needed to play a larger role in providing a template for how countries could balance competition with collaboration and cooperation, noting that while a country first approach was not inherently bad, too heavy a focus on being first was to the detriment to others.
“Countries, the way they behave together is one of the main reasons why we’re not making more progress in resolving those challenges,” he said.
“The behaviour of people is one of the main reasons why they don’t go away, why they persist and why we keep on developing new ones.”
Anholt also used the conference to launch his “Good Generation” project, which he said would be a global compact of educators banding together under a unified banner of education projects for the public good.
“We need to embrace all of those educational projects around the world, we need to accept and understand that basically what they’re trying to do is to create a better generation,” he told delegates.
In order to increase collaboration, professor of inclusive education at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Aminata Cairo, encouraged those working within higher ed to work more collaboratively in her closing speech.
She said more work was needed to provide marginalised people with an active voice, and she drew a laugh from the audience when talking about how those with PhDs could use their academic status to separate themselves from those not like them.
According to Cairo, educators needed to flip the narrative towards providing those within dominant positions with resilience to accept challenging conversations, rather than providing minority groups with resilience to speak up.
“When we talk about diversity a lot of times we talk about the fact we have a range, so we know we have a range of stories, the problem we have is we have [dominant narratives].”
“It’s our resilience that we need to work on, our fragility”
“It’s our resilience that we need to work on, our fragility, those who are in this power position.”
Meanwhile, according to the latest EAIE Barometer, launched at this year’s conference, many institutions may already be well on their way to ensuring their students develop a global mindset.
“Preparing students for a global world, improving upon education… far outstrips the financial benefit as a perceived main goal of internationalisation,” said Laura Rumbley, EAIE Associate Director, Knowledge Development & Research. said on the results.
“On the one hand, yes, of course, money matters. Financial resources are vital for institutions to operate and programs to proceed.
“But at the same time we see a large number of European higher education professionals working in internationalisation indicating that it is not a deep concern or main motivation.”
The 2019 EAIE conference attracted a record 6,200 delegates from around the world. The 2020 conference will be held in Barcelona.