International partnerships between universities are beneficial to all, from the staff and students to the world as a whole.
At a time in which forming those links has perhaps never been simpler, it has also never been more necessary. The rate of internationalization is increasingly rapid, with unhindered communication channels and inexpensive travel. Universities across the world are already seeking to make the most of the possibilities this presents by forming global partnerships and fostering relationships with other institutions.
Why students benefit, and how this helps you
To paraphrase a popular saying: What’s good for the students is good for the university. The number of students choosing to study internationally is constantly increasing and, for this reason, it is only logical that institutions would want to ensure they embrace a global culture to continue attracting applicants.
Forming international university partnerships helps student recruitment in two main ways: For domestic students, it offers the opportunity to travel internationally via any programs which may have been set up – and vice-versa for students at partnered universities. It also enables universities to better understand the culture of other nations, thereby facilitating their marketing success there.
Additionally, arguably the main reason for pursuing higher education is the preparation it affords for life in the working world. In the globalized society we live in, international collaboration programmes help by providing students with the ability to study, work and travel in an international capacity.
Plus, with the development of educational hubs, attracting international students from traditional regions of recruitment may become more difficult. To continue competing, universities should, therefore, be looking to invest in cross-cultural university partnerships.
How researchers and, on a larger scale, the world benefits
One in five of the world’s scientific papers are co-authored internationally. As a result of the expansion of communication methods and the ease of international travel, academics and researchers are finding it easier than ever to collaborate with their foreign counterparts, making the exchange of academic ideas much simpler to organize.
The ability to scrutinize, debate and share experience is essential for academic and scientific accomplishment. Constructively challenging accepted opinions and ideas is central to their development, and international collaborations help to facilitate this.
Such partnerships have contributed endlessly to academic and scientific progress. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, for example, worked with teams from Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Peking University and the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne. Through their research into infant mortality in China, they’ve mapped out this issue’s leading causes and predicted what may occur in future – discoveries that could easily save lives.
Another example is De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, which is collaborating on a €1 billion EU research programme called the Human Brain Project. The project is developing ICT infrastructure to map diseases of the brain. This could well expedite cures and treatments for a myriad of conditions and diseases. There are innumerable other examples of the successes international collaborations can lay claim to across the globe.
How should you go about forming links?
University partnerships provide a huge amount of opportunities for students and staff alike. Along with research opportunities and cultural awareness, institutions can offer international experiences including study abroad programs and staff exchanges. In terms of teaching, benefits include curriculum development and degrees formed in collaboration with partner institutions. But how should universities go about forming those partnerships?
The laboriousness of forming university partnerships means that only those identified as being able to endure in the long term should really be pursued. Developing successful relationships takes a long time, from understanding the culture and goals of each other’s institutions to ensuring compatibility in terms of ethics and standards, it can take a lot of effort to forge a strong connection. This is before you even consider how collaborations might, over time, be impacted by changes affecting individual universities (such as staffing and funding), or changes affecting countries (such as alterations to law and government). In this light, it’s important to make sure that any university partnerships can adapt and survive in changing circumstances.
Research (not conducted in partnership with other universities this time) has shown that the best way to form these partnerships often stems from taking a personal approach. Staff, once again, are your best assets here. One study highlights staff working relationships as the optimal means of forming connections, through meetings, exchanges, and academic events. Indeed, it was found that the relationship development only became more pragmatic once the initial connection had been formed – although good communication was still vital for success.
Whichever method is used, perhaps the most important aspect of a partnership’s endurance is an alliance of ideas and goals. This means selecting which institutions to partner with carefully while confirming at every stage that all members of the partnership are on the same page.