Workshop for developing and implementing impactful internationalization strategies in higher education Image

Workshop for developing and implementing impactful internationalization strategies in higher education

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, a workshop on the topic of “The development and implementation of international partnerships with an impact on Higher Education” was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Religion and Sport, on the occasion of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the British Council, the British Embassy in Greece and Study in Greece, which, as the co-signatories stressed, constitutes a key point in the cooperation between the UK and Greek universities and is expected to significantly strengthen the academic ties between the two countries with the potential of developing student and staff exchange programmes, the implementation of double degrees, joint research projects, and many more.

The Minister of Education, Kyriakos Pierrakakis, addressed the event, underlining the importance of the bill on Higher Education that is to be proposed for approval in the coming days in the Greek Parliament as a means to promote Greek Higher Education and strengthen its presence on the international scene, so that Memoranda of Understanding such as the one signed today can be fulfilled. He also mentioned the particular preference prominent Greeks show for UK Higher Education, attributing this preference to the excellent level of expertise and knowledge it provides.

For his part, the UK Ambassador to Greece, Matthew Lodge, expressed pride in the level of Anglo-Greek cooperation in Higher Education in the past, which continues to develop to even greater breadth and depth. Greek culture has been an integral part of academic pursuits in Britain for more than a century with classical studies programmes and British universities have welcomed many children of Greeks who have chosen to complete their studies there. Like the Greek Minister of Education, the Ambassador stressed that in the institutional discussions between the Greek and British governments, educational issues have always occupied a prominent place and this Memorandum is a first step towards the realisation of many beneficial strategies.

On the same note, the Director of the British Council Greece & Cyprus, Anastasia Andritsou, expressed the belief that the objectives of Greece and Great Britain in the field of Higher Education are converging, as evidenced by the dialogue between 50 British universities and Greek universities for the establishment of exchange programmes and the strengthening of joint research work between the two countries, agreeing that today’s Memorandum will ensure great progress towards the strategic development for the expansion of this cooperation.

During the conference, the representative of the Sector Lead Higher Education & Science in Europe, Maria Tsakali, presented a valuable cooperation programme for the extroversion of Higher Education, the “Strategic Partnership in Education” (SPE), which focuses on facilitating dialogue and cooperation between university institutions with a plethora of actions and newsletters. SPE works with 24 Greek universities, more than 50 British universities and is always in search of more to provide its support through projects to discover common areas of research between universities, the organisation of workshops and seminars for collaborations and summer programmes, and the activities of the prominent “Researcher Connect”, which enables the matching of academics with each other based on their research interests. SPE actively collaborates with Study in Greece for online and in person interaction programmes, for the exchange of students, staff and ideas with professors from Greek universities, as well as with Greek academics from the diaspora.

In the direction of promoting Higher Education abroad, the President of Study in Greece, Professor Christos Michalakelis, expressed his intent to continue supporting the internationalization of Greek universities by improving visibility of Greek academic institutions abroad, even more so during this period of rapid progress in Greek universities and their potential to become a major point of attraction in global Higher Education.

Following the signing of the MoU, Phil Baty, Chief Global Affairs Officer of Times Higher Education (THE), an expert in international higher education issues, provided an insightful analysis on the field of global university rankings and their impact on the internationalization of each individual institution. Having referred to the way in which the THE collects and analyzes the data processed by the THE from universities in 171 countries, he commented on the high ranking of 16 Greek universities and stressed their high classification in terms of scientific research, especially in the fields of technology and engineering, humanities and arts. This high ranking in the field of research can be further improved by an international approach that will strengthen joint research work and further cooperation. He said that international students from the UK and the US place Greek universities on a high pedestal, which is something that higher education in Greece can benefit from through collaborative efforts in order to upgrade the quality of studies and expand its international presence. Consequently, by disseminating information and communicating with other universities around the world the extroversion of the important Greek academic work can be very fruitful and partnerships with organisations such as Study in Greece can achieve excellent goals.

Also speaking at the conference, Dr Vangelis Tsiligkiris, Associate Professor at Nottingham Trent University, welcomed as moderator a panel of distinguished guests consisting of Franziska Enichlmayr, Policy Officer (Europe), Universities UK International, Eduardo Ramos, Director of International and Professional Services, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, Prof. Konstantinos Kontis, Dean for Global Engagement – East Asia (External Relations), University of Glasgow, Dr Clare Newstead, Associate Director NTU Global, Nottingham Trent University, Prof. Bryony Whitmarsh, Associate Dean International, University of Southampton &Dr Wai Mun Lim, Associate Head of School (International); Plymouth BusinessSchool, University of Plymouth. These speakers offered their valuable expertise in the field of internationalization in higher education, with general and specific suggestions for online and in-person events to attract international students. They stressed the importance of establishing relevant and open-minded programmes, such as artificial intelligence or gender equality, which would significantly encourage mobility and take into account the research interests of domestic and international students. Moreover, they recognised the difficulties in terms of funding and administration, which need to be addressed through the use of new technologies and hybrid education models with the potential to optimise the student experience. The speakers also engaged in dialogue with the participants of the workshop, expressing a great willingness to embark on collaborative projects between their institutions and Greek universities, encouraging the attending members of the administrative staff of these universities to submit partnership proposals.

Dr Tsiligkiris, after congratulating the internationalisation strategies and actions for the benefit of Greek universities, such as those of Study in Greece, referred to the impact that the international reputation of an educational institution has, which in turn establishes a global presence and makes the university accessible and enticing to the prospective international student. A university, he further stated, can be considered enticing on the basis of its curriculum value and its clear direction and objectives in terms of its educational mission, and accessible if it has ensured that these characteristics are widely known and visible in the international arena. He stressed the importance of strategic alignment between two universities in terms of their goals and aspirations as a critical element that can facilitate the process of cooperation. Finally, Dr. Tsiligkiris set out a framework of measures, good practices and suggestions for strengthening internationalisation related to the areas of research that the university pursues, concerning students, staff and governance policies.

The workshop concluded with an interactive activity led and moderated by Dr Clare Newstead, who urged participants to form groups and explore different themes for maximising the international profile of a university, then presenting and discussing the conclusions of their deliberations. This simple exercise resulted in valuable findings and insights on the international character of Greek universities and participants actively partook of some of the considerable know-how on internationalisation that this workshop intended to impart by the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding.

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