26 Apr 2021

Europe and the Global South



This issue of Forum shines a spotlight on the longstanding ties between European higher education institutions and the ‘Global South’. Although the Global South is a contested term in itself, it is clear that Europe has been engaging with countries facing development challenges (in various world regions) for decades and that this engagement spans research partnerships, capacity building, student mobility and more. 

In compiling this issue, we were keen to enable readers to deepen their understanding of engagement between Europe and the Global South, highlighting successes and challenges related to collaboration and focusing on opportunities for the future. Similarly, we wanted to understand a little more about the state of internationalisation in the various countries considered to be part of the Global South, and how or whether this was shaping the perspectives or priorities of European institutions in working with Southern partners and stakeholders. As Chair of the EAIE Publications Committee, I am indebted to members of the EAIE Expert Community Cooperation for Development, both for their commitment to publicising the call for proposals for this issue and for their contributions as authors.

Indeed, this issue opens with a synthesis of key policy drivers and issues related to the split realities between Global South and Global North authored by members of the Steering group from this Expert Community (including the Chair, Erich Thaler). Roseanna Avento and Eva Kagiri-Kalanzi then provide a historical perspective on European connections with Africa, from the initial scramble for Africa through to the more inclusive agenda-setting of the EU–Africa Strategy.

Following this introduction, a series of articles looks at capacity building in the context of decolonisation, from a description of the iKudu project (a South African-European capacity development project funded by the European Union) to a reflection by Petra Pistor on new opportunities for cooperation as a result of the digital turn. Writing from Myanmar, James Kennedy challenges the assumptions inherent in Global North perspectives on internationalisation and puts forward five principles as a basis for good practice in collaboration.

I’m delighted that Dr Wondwosen Tamrat agreed to be interviewed for this issue. As President of a relatively new university in Ethiopia, Dr Tamrat holds degrees from institutions in Ethiopia, the United Kingdom and Australia, and serves as a member of the International Advisory Board of the International Journal of African Higher Education. Drawing on his experiences in both the Global South and Global North, Dr Tamrat reflects on potential brain drain from Africa and the modern-day legacy of Africa’s colonial history as reflected in higher education and research. Rather than framing the relationship between Europe and the Global South in terms of dependence or independence, he advocates an interdependent future in relation to research capacity, student flows and collaboration on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

A further set of articles examines more closely the impact of the current public health pandemic on collaboration between Europe and the Global South. Mark Vlek de Coningh and Huba Boshoff discuss some of the initial impacts of COVID-19 on capacity building projects led by Nuffic (the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education), while Felipe Guimarães, Kyria Finardi and Gabriel Amorim look at positive (if unexpected) effects of the pandemic on collaboration with Brazil. Sandra Rincón and Marcela Wolff add a further perspective from Latin America, with a compelling article about how careers service professionals in Europe can work with their peers in the Global South to boost youth employability.

Following a series of institutional and national case studies – from India (by Nidhi Piplani Kapur and Amruta Ruikar), from Krygyzstan (by Martha C. Merrill), and from Lebanon (by Hala Dimechkie) – this issue then closes with reflections on the broader architecture of North–South relations. Samia Chasi challenges international education practitioners and scholars to consider their work through the lens of colonisation, recolonisation and decolonisation, while Elizabeth Colucci and Nico Jooste advocate for South–South–North partnerships as a new modality for collaboration. These closing reflections on the overarching structures of Europe’s relationships with the ‘Global South’ leave us with a hopeful, thoughtful glance ahead towards what tomorrow’s more equitable and mutually enriching North–South partnerships may hold.

I hope you enjoy the collection of articles in this issue of Forum. If you’re looking for further information on internationalisation agendas in Africa in particular, then why not tune in to episode seven of the EAIE podcast, which features the leaders of two flagship international education organisations on the continent, offering insights into the multiple agendas and interests currently in play.