International Education Strategy and Marketing

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This News and Views page is my Blog.

I use it to:

  • View from Prague Congress Centre - EAIE 2014share tips and advice on internationalisation approaches
  • highlight training, conferences or events that I am involved with
  • link to helpful or interesting news items, reports or other resources
  • comment on topics relevant to those working in international education

This page shows the ten most recent blog articles. A complete list of all articles since the blog started in May 2014 can be found on the Blog Archive page.

Vicky Lewis Consulting Blog

Can we decolonise internationalisation?

Posted on 3 May 2022 at 12:27 by Vicky Lewis

Some reflections

Decolonisation - Halpin blogWhenever you do a piece of research, it always sparks new avenues to pursue or ideas that need to be investigated.

Some of the conversations I had when interviewing sector stakeholders for my Global Strategies Report last year set me thinking about the intersection between HE internationalisation and decolonisation.

My initial – perhaps naïve – assumption was that they are underpinned by similar values and aspirations: inclusivity, the broadening of perspectives and the challenging of assumptions. However, I soon realised that, when it comes to internationalisation, in the UK at least, there are other, more commercial dynamics at play which can perpetuate colonial models and undermine efforts to decolonise.

I found this blog (entitled: Internationalisation and Decolonisation: Can two work together unless they agree) by Dr Davies Banda from the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and Sport particularly helpful, as it shows how internal governance structures and relationships can be used to try to align these two agendas.

It explores learning and teaching, curricula and Internationalisation at Home, concluding that ‘our actions going forward will demand authentic processes to help us overcome superficial discussions of decolonisation beyond mere insertions of Global South items within reading lists’.

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One year on from my Global Strategies Report

Posted on 13 Apr 2022 at 11:19 by Vicky Lewis

What's the story?

Time for a rethinkIt was a year ago this month, in April 2021, that I published my report UK Universities’ Global Engagement Strategies: Time for a Rethink?

This triggered thought pieces for University World News, HEPI, Wonkhe, The PIE and others, as well as an article for the EAIE’s Forum magazine on distributed leadership in international education, one for Times Higher Education about placing language learning at the heart of internationalisation, and a recent one, co-authored with Omolabake Fakunle and Chisomo Kalinga, for International Higher Education on decolonial approaches to internationalisation.

I have also really enjoyed debating some of the issues raised in my report via conference sessions, webinars and other opportunities to engage with colleagues across the sector.

One year on, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on a few of the elements highlighted in the report and how UK HEIs are tackling these. In some cases, new themes and approaches have gained prominence; in other cases, we still seem wedded to our old ways and familiar territory.

Read full blog post...

The appeal of an international education career

Posted on 24 Feb 2022 at 09:03 by Vicky Lewis

Personal and societal impact

Canadian vistaI was fortunate to be interviewed by Callan Quinn last month (alongside others with fascinating perspectives) for the central feature of The PIE Review (Issue 32). The feature explores Why do we work in international ed? How can we gauge progress and impact of this career choice?

In the article, I share the reasons why I love the work that I do, how I ended up in international education, and (a regular hobby-horse of mine) some thoughts on the ways that universities can measure their international success, beyond the traditional quantitative metrics.

The interview made me reflect on why international education is important to me and what keeps me working in the sector. This blog contains a few additional observations, beyond what’s in the PIE Review article.

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Expanding and diversifying international markets

Posted on 25 Jan 2022 at 08:13 by Vicky Lewis

Thoughts from our January 2022 webinar

LatAm-SEA-SSA Jan 2022 webinarBack in November of last year, I was approached by fellow consultants, Cecilia Pereira-Yates, Jamie Ash, Simon Terrington and Stuart Rennie to see if I’d be interested in facilitating a webinar they were planning. This took place on 20 January.

I was delighted to join them, not just because they’re lovely people and great to work with, but because their philosophy (and that of their respective companies) chimes very much with my own. The approach they take in the regions where they are specialists is firmly based on building mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders.

And their regions are ones which hold the key to that holy grail among UK universities: diversification. Simon and Jamie, from EdCoLatAm, are based in Colombia and specialise in Latin America. Cecilia’s company, GB8, focuses on Southeast Asia. And Stuart’s consultancy, SJRennie Consulting, is a market entry specialist for Africa.

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2021: A year of two halves

Posted on 6 Jan 2022 at 17:14 by Vicky Lewis

Variety is the spice of (a consultant's) life

FeastWhen I became an independent consultant in 2013, I was happy to escape the confines of university life (and politics) and relished the opportunity of being able to fit in a modest amount of academic research alongside my consultancy work. The plan was that the latter would pay the bills, while the former would keep me sharp, relevant and credible.

What I didn’t expect was what happened in 2021, which turned into a year of two halves. The first half was focused almost exclusively on research and the second half on consultancy.

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Fresh Perspectives and Inclusive Models

Posted on 11 Dec 2021 at 16:04 by Vicky Lewis

Inviting challenge when internationalising HEIs

EAIE Winter Forum 2021 articleThe theme of the European Association for International Education’s (EAIE) Winter Forum magazine is ‘Internationalisation for All: Distributed leadership in international education’. It includes a range of great articles exploring different aspects of inclusive internationalisation and the kind of leadership needed (at all levels) to realise this.

I contributed the opening article to the magazine, entitled ‘Fresh Perspectives and Inclusive Models’. It’s based on my 2021 research into the international strategies of UK universities and encourages those of us working in international education to challenge our assumptions about leadership and delivery and to look beyond the pandemic to a future model of more distributed and empowering internationalisation.

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Key findings from my Global Strategies report

Posted on 5 Jul 2021 at 16:46 by Vicky Lewis

An Executive Summary with hyperlinks

GSR CoverThis blog is a bit longer than usual because it reproduces the Executive Summary of my report – UK Universities’ Global Engagement Strategies: Time for a rethink?.

I have embedded within this Executive Summary blog links to the various other blogs I have published over the last two months, all of which relate to sections and themes within the report.

So, if you can’t face reading the full report, this blog provides not only a summary of key findings, but also a way to take a quick dive into areas that are of particular interest to you via the relevant blog posts to which it links. I hope that’s a helpful approach.

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The strategy consultation process

Posted on 25 Jun 2021 at 15:23 by Vicky Lewis

Key questions for universities to explore

This blog largely reproduces the final section of my report – UK Universities’ Global Engagement Strategies: Time for a rethink?. This final section is entitled: Overview of key questions for HEIs to ask and can be downloaded as a separate document. (There’s an overview of all the sections and Chapters in the report here).

Questions to askIn my consultancy work, I find that putting time and effort into coming up with the right questions to ask during the consultation phase of new strategy development – or when a strategy is being reviewed – pays huge dividends.

They can be used to stimulate valuable discussions with a range of different stakeholders, serving to challenge assumptions, spark ideas derived from divergent thinking and, ultimately, make the strategy itself richer, more sustainable, more distinctive, and more reflective of institutional values, mission and character.

This is why I conclude each chapter in Part 3 (Next generation strategies: Where are we heading?) of my main Global Strategies report with a set of questions (some of which I have shared in earlier blogs).

The ‘right’ questions will vary from institution to institution and my list is by no means comprehensive. However, I hope it will provide a useful prompt for leaders within HEIs as they engage in discussions on the future shape of their global engagement strategy.

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An opportunity to rethink our global engagement strategies

Posted on 21 Jun 2021 at 13:41 by Vicky Lewis

Conclusions from my research

This blog largely reproduces the concluding chapter of my report – UK Universities’ Global Engagement Strategies: Time for a rethink?. (There’s an overview of all the sections and Chapters in the report here).

Time for a rethinkThe current context for university global engagement is fraught with tensions: from the geopolitical level through to the institutional level. The pace of change is frenetic. In the time it took me to write up my report, new agent aggregators and partnership models came onto the scene and the UK government slashed budgets for ODA-funded projects.  

The maelstrom of challenges and opportunities for universities, discussed at sector conferences and webinars, in academic papers and in the media, is only very partially addressed within UK national policy and strategy, which inevitably lags behind the wider debates and occasionally feels quite disconnected from them.

This time lag and disconnectedness can also occur in institutional strategies. The big ideas can become diluted and bold courses of action reined back. While the most recent strategies tend to be more values-driven than earlier ones, there often remains a disconnect between rhetoric and reality, between what HEIs say is important and the success measures they use. It is easy to get distracted from the big picture by comparing ourselves with others and fixating on the same metrics we have always used (and those everyone else uses). The hunger for genuine self-improvement can be lost, resulting in a vanilla version of what the institution has the potential to become.

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New ways of measuring success

Posted on 14 Jun 2021 at 11:57 by Vicky Lewis

Escaping the rut of traditional KPIs

Alternative success measuresThe first part of my research project on UK university global engagement strategies showed that there’s often a mismatch between the global rhetoric in strategy documents (with its emphasis on making a positive contribution to the world) and the measures of international success that are selected (which tend to be more about building institutional profile, reach and income).

I therefore probed this area with my interviewees, generating a variety of responses. This blog seeks to tease out some of their different perspectives and suggests some alternative approaches to measuring success.

It draws on the final chapter (Chapter 12) of my report – UK Universities’ Global Engagement Strategies: Time for a rethink?. (There’s an overview of all the sections and Chapters in the report here).

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