Over the past two years I have had the privilege of working on the pilot evaluation of the Higher Education Readiness Program (HER), an IIE initiative that provides secondary school pathways to underprivileged girls in Ethiopia. HER girls continuously inspired me with their hard work and determination to achieve their dreams. Here are some examples:
Last week, the British Council held its annual "Going Global" conference for the first time in Africa. It was a good opportunity for all of us to meet with colleagues who bring different perspectives on the most urgent challenges facing higher education today. An IIE team member, Caitlin McNamara, who works on the Fulbright Scholar program, had an IIE Traveling Fellowship to attend and present a poster session on the impact of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. I was invited to offer some perspective on the role of higher education in today's refugee crisis on a panel with European and Lebanese colleagues. In war zones, and in crisis zones under repressive regimes, the international community often thinks first of humanitarian aid, providing food, shelter, and medicine to displaced persons and others. Education usually comes last. At IIE, we have been working to help students and scholars in crisis, so I welcomed the chance to join this conversation.
Over coffee in Havana, a young Cuban professional asked me, “What are your intentions in Cuba? Why are U.S. universities interested in creating partnerships with Cuban universities?” While these questions initially caught me off guard, they helped me reflect on the current realities of U.S.-Cuba partnerships and what the near future might hold for these relationships.
There is consensus that international experience is an important component of a 21st century education.
The good news: In addition to the increasing number of American students participating in for-credit study abroad, more and more students are also actively pursuing international experiential learning through a variety of non-credit education abroad (NCEA) activities.
The not so good news: Despite NCEA becoming a mainstream option for students to incorporate both an immersive international and practical educational experience into their formal studies, and the importance that accurate and comprehensive NCEA data have in informing higher education institutions’ internationalization missions; NCEA has so far been vastly underreported and not fully understood.
Over the past two weeks, the Institute has been asked to make a series of presentations on how higher education can respond to the current refugee crisis. Sarah Willcox, Director of IIE's Scholar Rescue Fund and I spoke at The Rockefeller University, Nikki Davis, Program Manager of IIE Initiatives, chaired a panel during a UN high-level event on "Teaming Up to Boost Higher Education Opportunities in Emergencies,” the Best Practices Conference hosted this year by the University of California at Davis convened a pre-conference workshop on “Project No More Lost Generation: Principles of Higher Education Support,” and James King, Assistant Director of the Scholar Rescue Fund, represented IIE in Helsinki at a conference on opportunities for Finnish higher education institutions to become involved in the IIE-Scholar Rescue Fund to support Syrian scholars.
This year's Asia Pacific Association for International Education (APAIE) Conference was the biggest ever with 1,600 attendees. And although Australia was a long way even for some of us in the rest of Asia, universities, NGOs and international education experts from across the globe gathered to find common cause and mull over the issues facing our sector.
Earlier this month, Universities UK held their International Unit's annual summit. We work closely with this organization, which will become a Generation Study Abroad commitment partner, and their newsletter is an excellent window into the issues, concerns, and developments shaping the international exchange field in Europe. For several years Universities UK has asked me to speak at one of the sessions, but I was unable to do so. As it turns out, that was fortunate. Elections are big in the UK this year.