KIC VP for Academic Affairs, Prof. Nabil El Kadhi, participated as a Panel Chair and moderated the discussion that revolved around the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic on the internationalization of higher education.
The international selection of panelists raised several topics and trends that have short term and long term implications on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) around the globe, covering geopolitical dynamics, academic efforts, and related mobilities. The panelists also presented some key trends to consider.
It was highlighted that the pandemic has hastened the geopolitical change in direction. Partly, this is manifested with the increased prominence of Asian Higher Education Institutions in the international arena. Governments, for that matter, are one of the key players in determining the success of the sector. As it was noted, governmental bodies are responsible for creating a countrywide trademark, which would proportionally impact the desirability for its higher education services.
The pandemic had its toll on academic efforts and related mobilities. Although some HEIs saw their research projects being canceled or delayed, other institutions, reportedly, witnessed an increase in collaboration and the creation of new opportunities. As exchange programs virtually came to a halt, the move to Distance Learning ensured that international education did not stop; on the contrary, some institutions capitalized on global education opportunities.
COVID-19 also uncovered the phenomenon of the digital divide. It’s now evident that there is a gap that has to be addressed to make sure that online education is accessible. To date, not all people can afford devices and decent data packages that would enable their remote studies. The divide also underpins the capabilities needed to make use of the technology. As thus, the cooperation of public and private sectors is crucial when it comes to nurturing a sustainable higher education system.
As HEIs discover global education opportunities, they also discover the prerequisite of internationalization. These prerequisites go well beyond digital readiness and IT infrastructure. Students expect that the skills they learn will be transferrable in the global context; in other words they expect to be employed.
On the level of HEIs, however, it should be expected that international education should be reimagined beyond physical mobility, which will affect accreditation and ranking bodies, to reflect the rising needs and challenges. It implies that HEIs should discover their own formula that would help in achieving their own missions.
Based on that, the panelists identified several trends that will affect HEIs’ activities. These include shorter ‘study abroad’ programs, internationalization of programs, shifts in the knowledge economy, and hastened the emergence of international experience, caused by increased global education opportunities. To address these disruptions, HEIs have to invest in training and re-development of society. Cooperation is key to success.
Click here to watch the full discussion.