It has been broadly acknowledged by the sector that collectively, our approach to international partnerships and knowledge exchange has been motivated more by serendipity than strategy. It is clear that this approach has lead to the formulation of a vast number of successful partnerships, however recent trends indicate that we believe HEIs and students can and will benefit from a more strategic approach.
It is important to observe that as in other sectors and industries, partnerships in education cannot exist in a vacuum unaffected by wider political and economic factors. In the eighties for example, partnerships between Japan and the US increased dramatically; and in the UK, the Blair government saw education as a crucial vehicle to increase enhance the quality of Britain's relationship with India. This trend towards the creation and pursuit of mutually valuable goals and objectives was indicative of a wider shift to ensure the mutuality of partnerships in HE, and this is something we should seek to ensure remains in place.
The importance of this conversation has, like many others, largely been brought into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with a need to work extremely quickly and effectively to bring students home with institutions around the world, the ambiguities inherent in the sector's somewhat disordered approach to new partnerships quickly became evident.
As many of us are acutely aware, many international offices within universities have been shut down, and when they do begin to operate again will be required to do so with fewer resources than those previously at their disposal. However, this is not a situation that will last forever, and therefore now is the time for us, as a truly borderless community, to reimagine how our partnerships will operate moving forward; and how we can best work together to overcome some of the world's most pressing global challenges.
If you'd like access to the recording of Episode 3 of #BorderlessConversations, please email [email protected]