I ended my previous letter with the words: “The new internationalisation puzzle might even be without a frame – endless sky and clouds – a recovery of nature and return to core basics …"
Indeed, 2021 will be a time for moving beyond the widely accepted “frame" for the internationalisation of higher education (IHE). There will still be lots to puzzle out, but, fortunately, with clear core elements to guide us. IHE will still be about integrating an international, intercultural and global dimension with the experience of the university community – “the sky". More concretely for Stellenbosch University, our Internationalisation Strategy provides some more specifics – the puzzle pieces representing the roofs, rivers and trees. These include:
- integrating an international dimension with all relevant institutional policies and policy revision processes;
- bringing greater focus to the existing broad range of internationalisation activities at the institution;
- responding to international opportunities in an agile and adaptable way; and
- collaborating within the broader South African higher education context to jointly develop and participate in international partnerships and internationalisation opportunities.
All these puzzle pieces contribute to a picture of SU as a reliable global role-player, a preferred partner in Africa, and a place where all staff, no matter their primary tasks, embrace their respective roles in internationalisation. This was already clearly illustrated by our African Universities Week celebrations and our pilot development programme for support services staff hosted online with Lund University, both in November.
In 2021, we, as SU International, will also have the opportunity to bring people into the internationalisation picture. This we hope to achieve by:
- activating the Hybrid Mobility Hub to create both face-to-face and virtual international mobility for our students and enable staff to craft opportunities for global learning in academic programmes;
- developing faculty internationalisation processes with direct liaison links in SU International to bring internationalisation closer to academic staff, who are key stakeholders in many international activities and interventions;
- implementing a partnership framework to provide a clear structure for our engagement with stakeholders so that both staff and students can derive greater benefit from our relations with institutions in and beyond Africa; and
- building our comprehensive partnership portfolio to continue connecting with a core group of universities in order to provide further high-impact opportunities for both SU and its partner institutions.
I conclude with a twist on my words from my previous letter:
“Puzzling together a new way of internationalisation will still have the core elements: the roofs, rivers, trees and the people. Joint research collaboration will be different, but will still have its value in joint publications. Joint academic programmes will be more virtual, but still, have the add-on value through the certification and personal growth. The content of student programmes will be more global in its core but stripped of officialdom and waiting at check-in counters.
The new internationalisation puzzle will consist of the familiar core pieces, but will have an adjustable frame to unlock more possibilities for the people at our institution."
Senior Director: SU International