31 Aug 2021

Celebrating boldness and bravery: the 2021 EAIE Award winners



The last year has been one of the most challenging in recent memory, in our sector and across the wider world. Already faced with the slow-brewing climate crisis, higher education institutions and the women and men who staff them have worked harder than ever in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep our institutions running and our students safe. It is precisely these types of valiant efforts that the annual EAIE Awards aim to highlight.

This year, the EAIE Awards and Talent Committee recognises four members of our community who have gone above and beyond in forging bold, brave paths through these trying times. Let these colleagues and their exemplification of excellence serve as sources of inspiration for our entire community as we continue to chart our path forward out of the crisis.

Award for Excellence in Internationalisation

This award celebrates higher education institutions that have developed and implemented creative responses to current and ongoing issues in areas such as bridging the digital divide, student and staff well-being, online models of collaboration and greener and sustainable forms of internationalisation.


This year’s winner went above and beyond: in response to the pandemic, the University of Pécs, Hungary, quickly acquired a resilient attitude and developed an impressive range of new short-term virtual mobility programmes such as a virtual global internship programme, a COIL project, online summer and winter schools and a career launch strategy training for all students. Their innovative reorganisation paid special attention to creating a community and provides an outstanding example of how to create added value with exciting student-led social programmes.

Award for Vision and Leadership

This award recognises inspiring individuals or organisations for their remarkable achievements in demonstrating and developing strategies that create new ways of thinking and opportunities in the field of international higher education. We are delighted to present this year’s Vision and Leadership award winner: Vivienne Stern.


Vivienne has achieved a significant result in support of continued internationalisation throughout the changing education landscape associated with Brexit. Her tireless work to negotiate and secure the unilateral Turing Scheme was an exceptional achievement for all those working in international higher education in the UK and beyond.

Award for Outstanding Contribution

This award acknowledges members who contribute their valuable time and expertise to the Association and the European international higher education community at large. This year’s winner, Kees Kouwenaar, initiated the EAIE professional section ACE which would later become the Expert Community Admission and Recognition, served on the Conference Programme Committee, and has played an active role as speaker at several EAIE conferences. He has served on the EAIE General Council since 2018.


President's Award

The President’s Award is awarded by the EAIE President to an individual or group of her choosing, in recognition of above-and-beyond contributions to the field. This year, EAIE President Michelle Stewart has chosen to recognise Kimmo Kuortti, Head of Global Education Solutions at Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Finland.

Kimmo has been a tremendous EAIE advocate, in particular since the EAIE’s own rapid transition to digital, and has been very willing to share his knowledge, creative ideas and excitement with the EAIE community. He contributed as a speaker to the 2020 and 2021 Community Summits and helped organising the Coffee and Content networking event on international partnerships. He is a committed member of the EAIE Expert Community Marketing & Recruitment and has shared his own enthusiasm to encourage others to benefit from attending EAIE events.


It is our honour and our duty to celebrate the excellent achievements of the individuals and institutions who are working hard each day to advance international higher education in Europe and beyond. Congratulations to the 2021 EAIE Award winners, and thank you to all those who took the time to nominate. We look forward to honouring their achievements during the Closing Plenary of the 2021 EAIE Community Exchange!

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