Get to know the new EAIE Vice-President

Get to know the new EAIE Vice-President

In just a few short weeks, we’ll be welcoming a new group of volunteer leaders, including the Association’s new Vice-President, Markus Laitinen. Markus is Head of International Affairs at the University of Helsinki, winner of the 2013 EAIE Institutional Award for Innovation in Internationalisation. Having long since been involved in the EAIE’s activities, he attended his first EAIE Conference in London in 1994 and will be celebrating 20 years of EAIE membership this October. Find out more about Markus in this blog interview.

Who has had the most significance in shaping you as a leader/for your role in the international higher education field?

I would not be able to name just one person as there have been several individuals who I feel have had a big influence on my professional development. Alongside key individuals, I think I have been shaped by some key networks that I have been involved in. The Utrecht Network and Unica have been instrumental as many colleagues have not only contributed to my career professionally, but have also become close friends. Over the last couple of years the LERU network has also broadened my horizons considerably, especially regarding research-related issues.

To sum it up; a list of names would be far too long to be written here, but I trust that the people I am talking about will recognise themselves from this. I cannot emphasise the importance of networking and sharing ideas with international colleagues.

With the EAIE’s 25th anniversary this year, there’s been a lot of discussion about possible futures for international higher education. What does your vision for the EAIE look like and where should it be in the next five years?

The EAIE has certainly come a long way in its 25 year history. In the short term I want to be part of driving the current strategy forward; our members should recognise the added value of being part of what the EAIE does and stands for. I believe this is best achieved by harnessing the members’ expertise for the continuous development of the vision for international higher education and driving it forward through effective advocacy. We should also bear in mind that the world around us continues to evolve and we should also embrace the technological developments in our field.

Last year the University of Helsinki won the EAIE Institutional Award for Innovation in Internationalisation. A year later, how has your approach to embedded internationalisation developed?

For the University of Helsinki, winning the award was a clear turning point. Even with several years of experience with embedded internationalisation, not too many people at the University quite realised what had been accomplished. The award has opened a broader audience’s eyes to the many possibilities this approach to internationalisation offers us. You could say that the idea of embedding internationalisation is becoming more and more accepted and recognised and this will yield even more opportunities in the future.

What is a little known fact about you?

In 1980 my family moved to Baghdad, Iraq where my father was working for a Finnish furniture manufacturer. Our plan to stay there for a couple of years was cut short by the war between Iran and Iraq breaking out. After a few anxious days of air raids and bombings, we were evacuated first to Amman, Jordan by bus and from there to back home by plane – a very different kind on international mobility experience, but a very meaningful one for a teenager, to say the least.

The EAIE looks forward to welcoming Markus as he officially takes up his post as EAIE Vice-President on Friday 19 September 2014 at the Closing Plenary of the 26th Annual EAIE Conference.