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Report from 13th Transatlantic Dialogue: Leading the Globally-Engaged Institution - New Directions, Choices and Dilemmas

19 July 2012

Thirty presidents, rectors, and vice-chancellors from universities in Canada, Europe and the United States met in Salzburg, Austria, from 4 to 7 July 2012 to discuss how higher education institutions' ‘internationalisation strategies’ are changing in the context of globalisation, the emergence of new higher education models in other parts of the world and the current economic crisis.

The meeting, the 13th in the series of Transatlantic Dialogue events, was sponsored by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the European University Association (EUA), and was hosted by EUA. Underlying the discussion at the meeting was a clear agreement on the need to redefine internationalisation, as well as enhancing and enlarging its scope. 

The meeting highlighted that the pace of change is such that institutional leaders are facing a dramatically different landscape which requires them to find new ways of integrating the local and international aspects of their institutional missions. They also need to accept that the philosophical underpinnings of the Humboldtian model are evolving and are not necessarily shared in other parts of the world where new models are emerging. These are often more focused first and foremost on promoting inclusion and access which may lead to new types of HE institutions which have, for example: more virtual and on-line learning; different curricular provision; and which both decouple education and research and engage more with the private sector.

The Transatlantic Dialogue discussions also demonstrated that institutions in Europe and North America face a number of common issues and challenges. These include the challenges of diversity (for example, balancing home and international students); managing overseas operations that are set in different cultures and have to be sustainable in spite of their high initial costs; and developing partnerships with different stakeholders.

Leaders are also faced with a series of difficult fundamental questions such as: what is the appropriate balance between research and education or how to work within the framework of new government policies concerning international engagement? Addressing these basic questions is crucial for each institution in defining its own purposes and goals for engagement in the global arena. They also require strong institutional leadership to develop and set internationalisation strategies that achieve both external engagement and internal institutional buy-in.

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