The 32nd annual conference of the European Association for International Education (EAIE) was held from 13 to 16 September 2022 in tropical conditions – 30°C and 70% humidity. Movetia's higher education team travelled to Barcelona for the occasion, accompanied by the agency's director, Olivier Tschopp. Overall, the event brought together more than 6,300 participants from over 90 countries.
The conference was an opportunity to finally meet international colleagues and partners in person again. The 'Study in Switzerland' stand, entirely made out of cardboard and much admired for its innovative design, hosted a large audience, as well as business meetings between Swiss institutions and their foreign partners. The Swiss reception, co-organised by Swissuniversities, the Swiss Consulate General in Barcelona and Movetia, also proved to be a great success. Barcelona’s iconic Camp Nou provided an ideal setting to showcase Swiss higher education and to continue the day’s discussions in a convivial atmosphere. Aside from the countless and much welcomed networking opportunities, the EAIE 2022 also featured a rich and diverse programme of presentations and roundtable discussions, with inclusion, sustainable development and internationalisation at home among the key topics.
The topic of inclusion was addressed from multiple perspectives, including sessions on opportunities and barriers to mobility for people from minority groups, as well as for people with disabilities. A panel devoted to the integration of refugees presented an insightful account of the challenges recently faced by Ukrainian students and researchers. Among the specific approaches mentioned to facilitate the integration of displaced persons in the future, higher education institutions and national agencies were invited to establish criteria in order to help define situations that would justify simplification and flexibilization of administrative procedures.
The sessions on sustainability encouraged the exchange of ideas and best practices and underlined the exemplary function of the whole sector. The discussed ideas included free rail travel for students, and specific measures for peripheral regions that are less well connected to rail networks. In view of the fact that the majority of participants travelled to the conference by plane, it is safe to say that there is still room for improvement in this area, even among internationalisation actors themselves. The ongoing effort in favour of a more sustainable mobility was recognized by outgoing EAIE president Michell Stewart, who presented the President’s Award to the Climate Action Network for International Educators (CANIE) in recognition of its commitment to climate action in higher education institutions.
Many challenges remain for a sustainable and responsible internationalisation in the field of higher education. But after Michelle Stewart’s dedicated work at the head of the EAIE, the organisation can now count on an equally dynamic and determined new president, Piet van Hove, to address the challenges ahead. New year, new team, and a new destination for the 2023 conference: the vibrant city of Rotterdam. With one goal for Movetia's team: traveling to the EAIE 2023 by train!
Picture: Veronika Favre, UNIFR