Introduction: EUA’s International Agenda
European universities have always had a wide range of international contacts and academic collaboration with partner institutions around the world. However, in the past decade the development of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has led to an accelerated ‘Europeanisation’ characterised by strategic and more structured networking and cooperation among European universities.
With the consolidation of the EHEA came the realisation that Europe is increasingly attractive globally, both as a study destination and a partner for exchange. Today, ‘internationalisation’ beyond Europe has become a strategic goal of European governments and universities, and practically all institutions and countries provide offers for international students and reflect on their interaction with the wider global academic community.
In order to support these developments, in 2006 EUA launched its International Agenda, which puts high emphasis on policy dialogue and partnership. It considers the international perceptions of European higher education, and strives to ensure that international academic cooperation is based upon a community of interests that respects and fosters academic values and cultural diversity.
Under this strategy, EUA seeks to:
• create opportunities for dialogue with international partners in order to promote the attractiveness of Europe and to keep abreast of international developments affecting higher education institutions worldwide
• undertake project work with members and international partners to explore critical global issues in higher education
• relate the European experience in higher education integration to other regions
• promote inter-university cooperation by providing a forum to members for forging institutional alliances and partnerships, supporting universities to respond to global challenges and position themselves internationally.
Ever since, EUA has closely monitored European and international policy processes linked to internationalisation, and has also fostered dialogue and cooperation relations with its sister organisations, i.e. national and regional university and rector associations and networks in other parts of the world.
Internationalisation: Policy framework
One of the core objectives of the Bologna Process was to render Europe more attractive internationally. This has, in many ways, been accomplished, as the EHEA has drawn considerable attention from the rest of the world. Simultaneously, countries and institutions in Europe have increasingly promoted themselves as study destinations and academic partners with high quality offers.
In recent years, EUA has been active in explaining and promoting the European reforms to partners in other parts of the world, and has also contributed to the discussions on European internationalisation.
In addition, EUA is part of the BFUG (Bologna-Follow-Up Group) working group on the Global Dimension/ International Openness, particularly with regards to the objectives of policy dialogue and cooperation with other world regions. As a result of this work, in 2007 at their London meeting, European Ministers launched the ‘Strategy of the Bologna Process in a global setting.’
In addition, EUA also actively contributes to various bi-regional policy processes where higher education has become relevant, such as the ASEM Education Process, the EU-LAC Higher Education and Knowledge Area and the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership.