EAIE: discussing internationalisation at home

In September, representatives from the international education community gathered in Barcelona for the EAIE conference to discuss trends and developments around internationalisation at home in higher education. What did they take home?

Over 6,300 education professionals met up at the Fira Barcelona Gran Via for the 32nd annual conference of the European Association for International Education from 13 to 16 September. As not everyone was able to attend, Nuffic organised an online session to update Dutch education professionals on the takeaways from the EAIE conference.

During the online session, various subthemes were discussed in two rounds. These breakout meetings were moderated by higher education colleagues who had attended the conference in Barcelona. It was not intended as a recap of the EAIE conference, which was much too large to be summed up in the online session. The purpose of the session was to reflect on the EAIE. The colleagues who had attended the conference shared trends, perspectives, practical tips and advice. Below are the key takeaways from the conference.

1. Strive for inclusive virtual internationalisation

How inclusive is online internationalisation really? Making digitalisation more inclusive presents a challenge to higher education. It requires that professionals ask themselves questions such as: does everyone have access and does everyone get the same opportunities? How diverse are the partners with which we collaborate? Are these truly equal partnerships?

2. Make broader use of COIL and virtual change

A great development noted at the conference in Barcelona was the ever broader use of initiatives such as COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) and virtual exchange. This offers opportunities to education professionals. The methods can not only be used for learning international competences and languages, but they can also be applied in the field of business and health studies, for example.

3. Use SDGs as a framework for internationalisation

Internationalisation is not an end in itself but a means to jointly tackle international challenges. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a suitable framework for this. By linking internationalisation to international goals, we make internationalisation concrete and strengthen cohesion in our partnerships.

"How diverse are the partners with which we collaborate?"

4. Use the constructive alignment model

Utilise constructive alignment as a model for intercultural competences. Constructive alignment means that competences and learning goals are aligned with the learning activities and the impact you want to achieve. This ensures a more holistic approach rather than standalone activities.

5. Stay attentive to context

Context is essential in internationalisation. Explore the different perspectives you encounter in your classroom and beyond. How can you include these in your curriculum? Are you already doing that, or not sufficiently yet? And what is your personal context that you bring to the dialogue? Do you have the intercultural skills to deal with all such differences? Do you offer enough space for those differences in the discussion?

6. Focus on professionalisation

Getting internationalisation and online activities off the ground is only possible with broad support. This requires making intercultural competences a basic element in your education. To achieve this, it will be crucial to engage all stakeholders (such as colleagues and partners) and to convince them of the importance of professionalisation in this area.

More information

The Guide to COIL Virtual Exchange: Implementing, Growing, and Sustaining Collaborative Online International Learning (book) 

Outputs – FRAMES (Erasmus project with toolkit for blended mobility)

Education for sustainable development for 2030 toolbox (overview of learning objectives related to SDG goals, UNESCO) 

Education for Sustainable Development Goals: learning objectives (UNESCO Digital Library)