In light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, NAFSA’s Senior Fellows for Internationalization have argued that events like Brexit and other nationalist movements around the world are an opportunity for university educators to shake their ‘elite status’ and truly bridge local and global communities.
In the introduction to September 2016’s Trends & Insights, fellow chair John Hudzick writes higher education internationalisation has been “most effective when talking to ourselves, the ‘converted’ echo chamber, while not attending to the wider educational and advocacy role for, and within, our societies”.
“Higher education needs to pay greater attention to the fact that globalisation doesn’t evenly benefit everyone”
While advocating for a renewed push for internationalisation on campus and in local communities, the symposium also identified a greater need of community engagement and service to help individuals who have not benefitted from globalisation.
“We reaffirmed the importance of higher education internationalisation and the role it plays in mediating between the local and the global,” said Hudzik at a panel discussion at the EAIE conference in Liverpool last month, but added, “Higher education needs to pay greater attention to the fact that globalisation doesn’t evenly benefit everyone, nor that all think it and internationalisation are good things.”
In Trends & Insights, Kevin Kinser pointed out that internationalisation and globalisation are seen as necessary, irreversible and beneficial trends.
But he added, “This view is held even in the face of evidence that some do not benefit, whether they be blue-collar workers in the declining manufacturing sector or first-generation students in an under-resourced public campus.”
Meanwhile, NAFSA fellow Madeline Green of the International Association of Universities said she believes that the rise in nationalism in the UK and elsewhere, as demonstrated by the Brexit vote, needs a bolder commitment to internationalisation on campuses and in communities.
“Colleges and universities must rise to the challenge of pursuing internationalisation even more vigorously”
“Colleges and universities must rise to the challenge of doing what they know is both the right thing for students, for the long-term health of the higher education, and for the country, by pursuing internationalisation even more vigorously,” she said. “And by clearly demonstrating its value for all.”
And Hanneke Teekens at AFS Netherlands argued that positive results of international collaboration could be found in the Brexit vote.
“It was clear that young and educated people voted overwhelmingly against leaving the European Union,” she said.”They know the future is not an isolated, insular matter.”
While it was argued that internationalisation can help counter the negative consequences of nationalism and isolationism, for example, they are factors that cannot be ignored.
“Both will be major forces in our futures and for a very long time,” wrote Hudzick.
He observed the fellows “came down on the side of cautious optimism” about the future of higher education internationalisation but underlined it will happen in “a much more publicly conflicted environment”.