Stepping into a new era: the 2014 Conference Conversation Starter

Stepping into a new era: the 2014 Conference Conversation Starter

What does internationalisation mean for higher education in Central and Eastern Europe? What motivates internationalisation, what impedes it? Why are the challenges in this region so different than in other countries throughout the European Higher Education Area (EHEA)? This year, the EAIE invited intellectuals from a range of specialisations to get us talking about developments in Central and Eastern Europe and make important connections about what is at stake.

Seven essays comprise the EAIE’s third Conference Conversation Starter. The volume is now available online in the Member Centre for EAIE Members and in My Conference for registered EAIE Conference participants. A hard copy will also be freely distributed to all EAIE Conference-goers in Prague next week. As with the earlier Conference Conversation Starter publications, the volume is designed to encourage dialogue and serious reflection on the conference theme.

For example, what do we know and what do we merely assume about the challenges of higher education in Central and Eastern Europe? Why are strategies developed elsewhere proving unsuccessful in this region? Why should all members of the EHEA be concerned about these differences, particularly with regard to internationalisation?

There are many possibilities for discussion and debate on these and other issues, and the EAIE sees a real need to explore these questions. The challenges faced in Central and Eastern Europe are complex and embedded in the history and political fabric of the different societies, yet discussions of European higher education too often gloss over the specific needs of the region. This year’s publication is an attempt to shed light on these challenges and open discussion to stakeholders across the EHEA.

It is clear that the EAIE’s slim volume only touches on some of the issues, but as a starting point for a more informed and open debate, the essays provide acute analyses of where things stand and what might yet be done. By presenting the views from several invested stakeholders, not necessarily higher education insiders, we are inviting you to explore further, draw your own connections and expand your understanding of the richness of the European Area.

With this year’s 26th Annual Conference in Prague and the 2014 Conference Conversation Starter dedicated to Central and Eastern Europe, the EAIE is opening the door to focusing renewed attention on the region. With time, our understanding will grow and with it our ability to support the provision of quality higher education. In the context of international mobility, knowledge transfer, institutional partnerships and combined degrees, the EHEA can only be strengthened by this kind of enrichment. As Editor of the 2014 Conference Conversation Starter, I hope this is only the beginning of a more connected higher education community.

Here’s to our ongoing discussions before, during, and after our time together in Prague.

By Anna Glass, OECD, France