Staying global: how international alumni relations advances the agenda

Staying global: how international alumni relations advances the agenda

This month, EAIE members and international education professionals across the world have a new resource to help their institutions build relationships with graduates living abroad and help graduates build relationships with their alma mater. Staying Global: how international alumni relations advances the agenda, challenges readers to think about what success means when it comes to the unique and important intersection between internationalisation and international alumni relations in European higher education and elsewhere.

What are institutions trying to achieve by engaging alumni, and what is the purpose of doing so? How do you identify progress and create a value proposition for both institutions and alumni? Staying Global’s contributors believe enhanced internationalisation activity seeks to expand priorities such as brand and reputation management, collaborative research and teaching opportunities, and institutional−industry partnerships. The book’s thematic chapters and case studies provide rationale for centralised yet smart approaches to international alumni engagement that support institutional mission and remain aligned to each institution’s story across Europe.

European insights

Across Europe, there are very different realities with respect to international alumni relations. These vast differences are emblematic of the diversity that exists across institutions, countries and regions when it comes to the experiences of international alumni in the European context. On the whole, however, today’s growing interest in developing relationships with international alumni widens the circle of participation between stakeholders in European higher education. Many more players – as well as opportunities and challenges – emerge, as new agenda items are identified through this sharper focus on the influence of alumni abroad.

Beyond alumni relations

The last of 24 Occasional Papers, published by the EAIE since 1992, this volume answers the call for further research on the subject of international alumni and their impact on strategies for internationalisation. Crucial insights emerge through an examination of such topics as:

International student mobility, recruitment, and success — knowledgeable alumni volunteers leverage their own experiences as students to stimulate additional interest from prospective students, thereby boosting international recruitment.

Preparing students and alumni for the global marketplace — alumni tap into personal and professional networks to help current students enhance their understanding of international careers, contributing to career service programmes sponsored by universities, and (those working in multinational corporations) helping to identify resources for international internships.

Advancing access to, and support of, institutional, national, and regional international education objectives — alumni engage with other entities such as national scholarship programmes to remain connected to current scholars and fellow alumni in efforts to uphold the reputation of the programme in both the home and host countries.

International alumni and philanthropy — alumni in countries like the USA liaise with foundations to make tax-deductible donations to their European alma maters.

“EAIE’s newest Occasional Paper presents a state-of-the-art examination of international alumni developments and dynamics from a range of perspectives. Whether we are concerned about the ways that international alumni matters intersect with issues of new international recruitment, graduates’ employability, institutional fundraising, national agendas for internationalisation, or the growing phenomenon of ‘multiple affinities’ between students and their alma maters, Staying Global has something to offer the international education practitioner looking for deeper insight into the fast-evolving world of international alumni relations.”

— Laura Rumbley, Publications Committee Chair and OP Series Editor

To date, the literature and professional resources devoted to this topic are minimal. My first book, Being global: making the case for international alumni relations, published in 2011, was the first publication to introduce a rationale for developing international alumni programmes. It surveyed models and best practices from secondary schools and higher education institutions on five continents.

Despite the dearth of literature on the subject, the EAIE’s International Alumni Relations (INTAL) Expert Community has pioneered the development of training programmes focused on the role of international alumni relations and institutional strategic planning in the European context since 1997, and other organisations have increased professional development training on the topic in recent years. The time is right for a focused treatment on international alumni relations across the European continent.

Gretchen Dobson is the founder of Gretchen Dobson LLC, a leading global alumni relations consultancy based in Australia.

Stay tuned

In the coming months, you will be able to learn more about international alumni relations from a European perspective, looking out at the world. Every EAIE member will receive a hard copy of the latest Occasional Paper on their doorstep, and a digital version can already be downloaded from the Member Centre. Non-members will have an opportunity to purchase the book online and at the Registration Desk of the EAIE Annual Conference in Glasgow.

Also in Glasgow, on Wednesday from 15:30−17:00, we will be expanding upon the themes of the book at the INTAL Feature session: Staying global: how international alumni relations advances the agenda. The session will be facilitated by chair Serge Synch and will include Gretchen and contributing authors such as Philip Conroy, Jr., a Steering committee member of INTAL, and Sandra Rincon, an EAIE champion and volunteer leader from Tilburg University.

After Glasgow, make sure to save the date Thursday, 29 October 2015 at 15:00 CET as Philip and Gretchen will be following up on the conference with a webinar that will continue to showcase best practices in international alumni engagement from universities across Europe.