On this very date, in the year 2012, the EAIE launched its first blog post. Today, 419 blog posts later and with a growing weekly readership, the EAIE blog is still going strong! We take this occasion as an opportunity to say thank you to our readers for inspiring us to produce quality original content week after week. A big thanks goes out to our volunteer bloggers, whose generous contributions have made the past five years possible. In celebration of our anniversary, we look back at our most-read blog posts of all time.
In our most-read blog post of all time, Frank Haber of Jacobs University Bremen, Germany writes about the crippling fear of failure that affects so many of our students. Unlike phobias, which are specific in nature, anxiety about failing is often vague and diffused – and therefore more difficult to tackle. Helping students identify the lead cause of their fear is a first step towards tackling a real issue, but often it’s a change in attitude that is most helpful. Frank reminds us that encouraging students to regard difficult tasks as challenges not problems, to focus on potential gains rather than losses, and to consider how much progress they’ve booked while at university, are all good examples of positive reinforcement that helps build the kind of self-worth that can combat a fear of failure.
In our second most popular blog post, EAIE Past-President Fiona Hunter of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy – who currently has a new series on our blog with colleague Neil Sparnon – discusses how a systematic and deliberate approach to higher education pays off. Recognising that universities can have a cynical attitude towards strategic planning because the concept originated from business, Fiona points at two key differences: first, universities are focused on the long-term investment of educating people and growing a body of knowledge over time (rather than ROI in a financial sense); second, the governance system at universities guides decision-making that is shared (rather than imposed from the top). Without the academic community on board, a university will struggle to change strategies. Through strategic planning, Fiona argues, universities can get to where they want to be.
Number three on our list, in this blog post, Maurits van Rooijen, winner of the 2013 EAIE Constance Meldrum Award for Vision and Leadership, talks about internationalisation of higher education in an increasingly globalised world. The threat of commercialisation in a globalised higher education context – as countries are defunding education for foreign nationals (by charging special fees) – is looming, but Maurits sees opportunities for development. Universities are driven to internationalisation primarily as a way to enhance the quality of education. As a result, rather than try to attract students from abroad with the sole purpose of making money, his prediction is that, in future, multinational universities will thrive.
Megan Brenn-White, international higher education consultant and author of our fourth most-read blog, addresses a well-known issue: poorly translated marketing materials aimed at international students. She lists five pitfalls, as follows: 1.Translating the exact same information available for local students, when we all know that international students require different information to make decisions; 2. Assuming all native speakers are good translators and writers, while translating and copywriting are actually very specific professional skills that can best be left to professionals; 3. Not using agencies because they feel impersonal, yet meanwhile a good agency can provide the most qualified translations; 4. Not providing sufficient information to the translator about ultimate goals and the medium, while the goal of a written text should shape the results; and 5. Skipping the final edit of a translated text, while that’s a basic step to any written text. Higher education institutions would do well to treat translated text like any other text that would be produced for a brochure or website, giving due attention to relevancy, tone, message, and style!
Number five on our list addresses an ongoing challenge for higher education institutions hosting international students: how to create the most welcoming environment. Francesca Andrich, of Politecnico di Milano, Italy, lays out some of the key steps in setting up a great orientation week for international students. From designing exciting events to counting with the expertise of colleagues and existing students, and from measuring student satisfaction to learning from best practices, there is a lot universities can do to make the most out of that first opportunity to help students feel welcome and included. Her main conclusion? Students that feel welcome perform and feel better overall, so it’s all worth the effort.
Looking back at the last five years shows us many things: the diversity of topics covered on the blog, the level of expertise that exists among international educators, and most importantly, our community’s unparalleled willingness to share what they’ve learned along the way. The field of international higher education is collaborative by definition. As we move on to the next five years, we want to hear from you! What are some of the topics you want to see more of here on the blog?