Charting bolder, braver paths forward for international higher education

Charting bolder, braver paths forward for international higher education Exchange 2021

This week, the 2021 EAIE Community Exchange brings together international higher education professionals from across Europe and the wider world to discuss the key opportunities facing our sector. The theme of this year’s meeting – ‘Bolder. Braver. Go.’ – asks us to explore new trails in our search for innovative solutions to the most pressing issues of our time. Kicking off the event, EAIE President Michelle Stewart invites us to embrace a week of connection, inspiration and critical thinking about the future. 

The Community Exchange is a virtual space where our community can come together, exchange best practices and be inspired by our truly interconnected network of peers. Our theme this year of ‘Bolder. Braver. Go.’ embodies our collective ambition to push the limits on our present circumstances and enact positive change for future generations.

In the past year, each of the many professionals who make up our sector have stepped up and risen to the challenge of the obstacles and opportunities this pandemic has imposed. This week is about bringing your stories under one virtual roof so that you can share them and we can all learn from them.

Bold aspirations

As our sector slowly emerges from an unparalleled period of change, we are setting our collective sights high. Faculties, institutions and entire national higher education sectors are striving to embed their digital educational offerings. Grassroots social movements and top-down policy directives have refocused efforts on making higher education more accessible to and affirming of people from diverse backgrounds. The climate crisis is forcing a reckoning with our sector’s environmental impact and the need for a ‘green Erasmus’.

Internationalisation has always been an aspirational field, and we are emerging from our most recent challenges with greater ambitions than ever before. In the week ahead, we encourage Exchange participants to actively explore with us what ‘excellence’ in international education looks like today and will require from us as we move forward.

Brave actions

Setting the bar high can be a great start, but faced with growing threats to academic freedom, changing political landscapes, and the ripple effects of the pandemic exerting new pressures on many budgets, where will our sector find the inspiration to face today’s many uncertainties with courage?

As we know, adversity breeds creativity, and community is the catalyst that enables us to translate ideas into action. Let the Community Exchange serve as an incubator for your plans: use the structured and unstructured engagement opportunities specially designed for this event to collaborate with your peers and colleagues to nurture the ideas and innovations our sector needs.

Leading the way forward

The week ahead will bring many opportunities to reflect on the most pressing challenges facing our field, but above all it is our hope that the 2021 Community Exchange will result in tangible outcomes for each of us, in the form of meaningful new connections and actionable new ideas.

Join the international higher education community this week as we chart the bolder, braver paths forward that our global society and the next generation of its inhabitants rightly deserve.

Michelle Stewart
University of Strathclyde, United KingdomMichelle is Immediate Past-President of the EAIE and Director Internationalisation (Humanities & Social Sciences) at the University of Strathclyde.