2021 Summer Forum call for submissions: Mobility in the balance

2021 Summer Forum call for submissions: Mobility in the balance EAIE Forum

Forum magazine is now accepting submissions for the 2021 Summer edition on ‘Mobility in the balance’. This issue of the EAIE member magazine will ponder the place of mobility in the increasingly varied range of interventions situated under the umbrella of internationalisation. As we witness the dawn of a new status quo, where does mobility fit into the broader mosaic of international experience and the resources we dedicate to it? Share your thoughts by submitting an article to this edition. 

Internationalisation of higher education is taking place against a continuously evolving backdrop, and the pace of change has only increased in recent years. Mobility is a vibrant core component of the international education landscape in Europe and beyond, yet it presents complexities. Growing concern for equity of access has led many to call for increasing mobility opportunities more broadly and equitably across the student population. Similarly, as the global climate crisis has taken centre stage in our collective consciousness, critiques of the carbon footprint of mobility have become prevalent. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has left the world of mobility in suspended animation as we wait for a ‘new normal’ to emerge. So, what role should mobility play in this future paradigm of internationalisation?

Until now, despite our many efforts to expand appreciation for and commitment to a broader portfolio of international education and intercultural learning activities, traditional physical mobility has remained the central pillar of internationalisation. Yet, the vast majority of students do not participate in mobility activities. Alternatives and complements to physical mobility have long been gaining popularity, but have so far been unable to displace the status of physical mobility as the gold standard for international education. Is now the time for change?

In this issue of Forum, we will seek to assess the opportunities and challenges afforded by the current moment of transition and consider what a new equilibrium might look like between traditional physical mobility as we know it, alternative forms of physical and virtual mobility, and international and intercultural experiences in the home environment.

Practical constraints

It stands to reason that mobility remains central to most institutions' internationalisation strategies, given its tried and true resonance with individuals and institutions alike. Even still, mobility dynamics also present real challenges. Articles exploring the practical and financial realities surrounding mobility (and ways of imagining new realities) would be well received for this issue.

The sudden drop-off in revenues from inbound mobility (particularly from China) have revealed alarming financial vulnerabilities for many higher education institutions. How can institutions wean themselves off of financial dependency on inbound mobility from single countries or regions? How can they mitigate these risks in the meantime as they transition to more financially sustainable models? 

Another question is that of institutional capacities. How will future forms of mobility play out in the realm of administrative staff development, or in relation to international teaching, research and dissemination of knowledge? 

Finally, the policy environment is crucial to shaping the future of internationalisation. What policies at the national, European or global level are needed to leverage a more equitable balance of internationalisation activities? 

New kinds of physical mobility

Most would agree that physical mobility in itself isn’t going anywhere – it’s merely a question of what it will look like in the future and how much of our institutional resources it will claim. Will or should future physical mobility necessarily take the classic form in which we know it best?

Might mobility evolve in terms of its geographic scale? This could include more of a focus on exchange between neighbouring regions, urban-rural mobility within countries, or engaging more meaningfully with local minority cultures and immigrant communities. What are the pros and cons of such a shift in focus?

Another consideration is the players involved. How might networks like the European Universities initiative come to shape the kinds of mobility experiences available in the future? 

‘Alternatives’ to physical mobility

Finally, virtual exchange has been launched into the spotlight since the onset of the pandemic. The conversation continues to evolve regarding the opportunities and challenges it affords, in terms of both access to and quality of education. Where might virtual exchange fit into the internationalisation toolbox of the future, and how should we think about its relation to physical mobility?

Another side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the injection of further energy into Internationalisation at Home initiatives at many institutions. COIL modules and efforts to internationalise the curriculum are suddenly receiving more attention, in some cases perhaps as a stopgap measure until normal mobility begins again, and in others as part of a concerted institutional shift. As we gradually transition to this ‘new normal’, how should we view the relationship between Internationalisation at Home and physical mobility?

Share your expertise

What is your vision for the future of mobility? EAIE members and non-members alike can submit their 800–1200 word article to publications@eaie.org by 12 March. For more information on the issue theme, examples of article topics and guidelines for writing, see our page on Writing for the EAIE.