Marta Baroth, outgoing student Coordinator, and Amanda Peaker, Academic Advisor for Scandinavia & Canada, expose their EAIE 2013 experience in Istanbul.
Last September 10-13, we have participated to the EAIE conference in Istanbul. We will first present what this conference is before explaining what we personally learned from it.
EAIE is the European Association for International Education. This was the 25th annual conference. It brought together over 5000 participants from 90 countries which generated many exciting talks to participate in, including the opening plenary which was delivered by none other than Lord Paddy Ashdown. This well-known figure turned diplomat spoke to us about the global importance of partnerships and international networks and the increasing dominance of the East. Indeed many of the papers delivered during this conference echoed this and defined our roles in developing such networks and alliances. Hence, aside from exposing the process of internationalization of education, this conference helps to build bridges between institutions. The main subject of this year’s EAIE annual conference was “Weaving the future of Global Partnerships”.
The contributing persons have expertise in higher education and include former government ministries, university rectors, international programs administrators, faculty deans and academics involved in teaching and research. EAIE is organized each year in different European countries. Next year, it will be in Prague, Czech Republic. Istanbul, where this year’s EAIE took place, is an amazing city! Joining two continents, this city’s complex structure symbolizes the bridge between Asia and Europe.
EAIE proposes plenty of different sessions, raising current educative issues such as MOOCs, e-learning, workshops, exhibitions, receptions, networking or interactive high-level dialogues. For example, during the workshops, participants can expand their skill sets and receive expert advices about institutional strategy, how to get everybody involved, how to manage successful international partnerships, etc. Additionally, these sessions help education members to exchange knowledge, gain new perspectives and discover the latest developments in higher education regarding globalization and student’s mobility, emerging trends or trends in US higher education. Finally, exhibitor live zone gave the opportunity to discover innovative services or programs developed by higher education, for example, the partnership between the University of Liverpool and “Laureate Online Education” seems rather original, as it enables the delivery of 100% on-line degrees, allowing thousands of students from over 160 countries to achieve their education goals.
GEM’s role in this conference was focused on meeting existing partners with whom we have a student exchange program and presenting any changes to courses, finding ways to further collaboration either by opening up dual degree programs at both undergraduate and master level or increasing the numbers of inbound/outbound students as well as promoting fly-in faculty opportunities and research programs. It was also an opportunity to discover what was new at our partner institutions at the academic level both locally and nationally, discuss the welfare of our students and how they are settling in as well as discover. These higher education conferences are also ideal places to prospect for new partnerships with similar institutions across the globe, networking receptions are perfect places to do just this.
However this particular trip was not without its trying moments like trying to cross Taksim Square to get to the French reception at the embassy when we got caught up in student protests and were tear gassed and pushed back by the Turkish Police. The most upsetting part was not being able to make it to the reception as we had guests waiting for us there. The next day we found that our guests were caught up in the protests too! This social tension was present at the conference as many receptions and dinners had to be cancelled as they were in and around Taksim Square.
Apart from these troubles the conference itself went well and we had meetings with over 25 of our partners and met many exciting prospects.
We, Amanda Peaker and Marta Baroth, represented GEM. Amanda is the head of English Department and Academic Advisor for geographic area as Scandinavia and Canada. She had already participated several times in such events. Marta, according to her position of outgoing student coordinator at GEM, is responsible every year for sending almost 500 students abroad and taking care of their enrollment at each host institution. She helps them to fill out and complete the application procedure and support them in all formalities related to their exchange. In other words, she follows them through their departure for exchange programs and their travels in 34 countries all over the world. For these reasons, this conference was very important to her, from both professional and personal points of views.
From a professional perspective, it was an ideal place to directly meet and better know our counterparts from partner institutions like, for example, Ada Kwok and Angie YC Cheung from the City University of Hong Kong, as well as Mirkka M. Pescador and Paula Forstunol from the Uppsala University. We talked about our respective works, explaining how our institutions are managed and discovering the organization of the international offices.
On the other hand, from a personal point of view, this 2013 EAIE edition has been a great opportunity to travel, meet and talk with new people from different countries, to visit a new city, learn some new words in Turkish, eat some food you never tried before, and even going on new adventures like to take a crazy yellow taxi which brought us somewhere where even Turkish people do not try to go.
To conclude, we believe that anyone working in the Center for International Affairs should participate in such events as often as possible as it helps better understand the impact of partnerships focusing on higher education. You don’t feel alone in your office anymore, you are now part of the global education community.