The Guild launches a new paper on transnational collaboration and mobility
The paper continues The Guild's ‘Future of Education’ project and commitment to introducing a framework and sustained intervention on research-led education in a digital age - paying attention to the changing role and diverse profile of modern universities.
It offers a critical reflection on transnational collaboration, policy frameworks and existing programme types and seek to create a space for ongoing dialogue, exchange of good practice and to feed into ongoing consultations at the EU level. The paper responds to the current emphasis on educational innovation, transcending barriers for enhanced programme-level collaboration and connectedness and the ambitious mobility targets. This picks up from the last insight paper where we focused on the need to articulate the value added of international collaboration, investing in sustainable pedagogic innovation and identifying the best way to build or enhance systems that provide agility and are based on trust to achieve the vision of the European University of the future.
Different designs need to continue to be supported to achieve scalability of opportunity. Also, a conceptual shift to mobility is needed. One that moves away from a ‘singular’ individual experience and ‘state of being’ to a process by which opportunity for international learning, short and longer term are embedded in the curricular and co-curricular offering of an institution, and which enables regional, national and international connectivity.
No pedagogic design, modality or policy can, in and by itself, provide the sole answer to the complex issues our societies are and will continue to face. We need diversity to meet the needs of our students, our regional, national and international contexts. The demographic profile of our students is changing the model of the student who can spend 3-5 years on full time education and can no longer be considered the norm. We need to think and imagine differently to educate for the future.
Internationalisation in the form of joint programmes is, simultaneously, difficult in terms of administration, logistics and (national) legislation and beneficial for students and institutions as well as the sector in enhancing conditions that enable other types of cooperation. Programme level connectedness is a process, a development process that can be seen as an ecosystem of activities facilitating integrated programme-level cooperation.
Experimentation and creativity cannot and should not be associated with any one design and/or product; our collective aim should be to support existing programme level collaboration, increase multiple learning activities and mobilities in study programmes to achieve expanding opportunity for large cohorts of students. At the same time, diversity of micro-level programming needs to also meet the test of scalability. The sector needs strategic decisions to steer and implement large scale developments locally and ensure a sustainable balance between macro-scale programming and micro-scale experimentation for achieving programme level connectedness.
For example, European Universities Alliances can become the conduit for doing things differently particularly in connecting pedagogic offering to the complexity of the world around us and addressing the challenge of interdisciplinarity. International education based on strong relationships and trust are the only way for partnerships to become more of the sum or their parts and dare to imagine a truly globally connected, locally relevant provision.
Ongoing dialogue and collaboration in the sector are needed so that we can learn from good practice and challenge areas where change needs to be deeper and faster. Universities are not a homogenous category, and they play a unique role in their regional, national and international ecosystem. Accordingly, diversity of designs and tools are needed to support students, staff and non-academic partners in engaging with the vision.
We have a ‘moment’ for educational change that will not come again soon. The sector’s current support and participation in international education activities shows the buy-in. To build on this momentum, we need to approach transnational collaboration with a new holistic approach which must cut across resourcing, careers, admin/pedagogical support, and infrastructure. This process needs to involve national governments, the European Commission and senior university leadership so universities continue leading the way.
The aspiration is that this paper contributes to current work and the joint effort for building a sustainable approach to transcend borders and boundaries in collaboration and mobility and use our collective power to truly re-imagine and implement future-proof pedagogic innovation.