Member stories: enhancing higher education in developing countries

Member stories: enhancing higher education in developing countries

This is the first blog in a series of posts dedicated to highlighting the stories of EAIE members, who just like you, are working to internationalise their institutions. This week’s story features Alva Bruun, acting Vice-Chair of the EAIE Expert Community Educational Cooperation with Developing Countries and one of the winners of the 2013 Rising star award.


What is your role at your institution?

I have been working with a development cooperation programme, HEI ICI, in the Higher Education Unit of the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO), based under the Finnish Ministry for Education and Culture. This programme supports capacity building projects between higher educational institutions in Finland and developing countries. A big part of my daily work consists of programme management tasks, from evaluating project proposals to following up on supported projects and compiling reports.

Why did you decide to start working in the field of international higher education?

The field of education, particularly higher education, is attractive in that it’s a very dynamic and international one. My earlier work within the administration of doctoral studies gave me a good basis from which to begin working to enhance education in developing countries. My background is in international law and human rights, and I think that higher education is playing an increasing role globally for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

I’m a team-player and I thoroughly enjoy the fact that that my job entails a lot of cooperation, not only with people in the higher education sector both nationally and internationally, but also with other actors. Another rewarding aspect of my job is being able to see the impact of initiatives and programmes on human and institutional capacity in a number of developing countries that Finland is partnering with in this field.

What words of wisdom do you have for those starting in the higher education field?

I encourage those just starting out in the field to widely explore the different opportunities within higher education; there are numerous different tasks and avenues to take within this field and no matter what area or position you are in, you can always make a significant contribution. The EAIE offers an excellent possibility for creating new contacts; a fact that cannot be emphasised enough in this field which is very international in character. Working together with colleagues internationally has been a great source of motivation and inspiration for me – I encourage everyone to expand their horizons through networking and international collaboration.