Global partnerships in higher education: views from near and far

Global partnerships in higher education: views from near and far

What do the rector of the University of Zagreb, the president of the International Association of Universities, a former Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and the American Council on Education’s presidential adviser for global initiatives, all have in common? Each of these individuals has crafted a thoughtful essay on the EAIE’s Annual Conference theme for 2013, ‘Weaving the future of global partnerships’.

These essays, together with a selection of others written by distinguished colleagues in unique and diverse positions in higher education around the world, have been compiled into the EAIE’s second Conference Conversation Starter publication. This slim volume is now available online in the Member Centre for EAIE Members and in My Conference for all those attending the Conference. A hard copy will also be freely distributed to all EAIE Conference-goers in Istanbul later this month. As with the inaugural Conference Conversation Starter published last year for the Dublin Conference, this year’s publication is designed purposefully to encourage each one of us to pause and reflect seriously on the myriad dimensions of the conference theme and its various sub-themes.

For example, what do we really know about the global partnership landscape, and how do we make good sense of the picture it presents – both for ourselves as individuals as well as representatives of institutions with complex sets of interests? What are some key strategies for successful partnerships? How ambitious should we be in this arena and what is at stake for the entities involved in these relationships across the globe? What kinds of perspectives for international higher education partnerships do we see emanating from different parts of the world – for example, from the Balkans or the Middle East? And to what extent, and in what ways, can international partnerships in higher education be leveraged to advance broader national agendas, notably on the diplomatic front?

The possibilities for discussion and debate on these issues are boundless, and the need to explore them acute. Not only are developments in all manner of fields (including our own) moving at breakneck speed, but the ability to participate in the worldwide marketplace of ideas often requires working in close cooperation with others – all in a context of profound competition. Partnerships sit at the nexus of much of this dynamic.

Clearly, we require good data and sound contextual analysis to make sense of these complex, fast-moving trends. The 2013 Conference Conversation Starter aims to provide just this sort of insight. By placing directly in your hands a short collection of thought-provoking considerations on international partnerships from institutional leaders, policymakers, and scholars across the globe are, we are inviting each of you to join in a discussion that is currently resonating around the world.

The EAIE stands poised to hold its 25th Annual Conference in Istanbul. On this notable occasion, the organisation is leading a global conversation about this defining topic for our field. The EAIE is clearly a strong Association of outstanding practitioners and leaders in international higher education. As our experience grows, so (hopefully) does the foundation on which the EAIE can foster the creation and dissemination of innovative ideas and new knowledge useful to our community. As incoming chair of the EAIE Publications Committee, I am hopeful that this Conference Conversation Starter – as with others that I hope will follow in subsequent years – will not only provide a meaningful starting point for some of the key discussions at our annual meeting, but also serve as a substantive point of reference well after the conference.

Don’t miss the next two blog posts providing you with a sneak preview from selected authors of the publication. The first post looks at Global higher education as a reflection of international relations, and the second post looks at Internationalisation and the edge of Europe: a focus on the Balkans.

Happy reading before, during, and after our time together in Istanbul!

By Laura E. Rumbley, Boston College, USA