How post-secondary institutions support positive change around the world

“’What have you done to make the world a better place?’

It’s a question we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives. It’s also the question driving some of the most important work happening in post-secondary education today.

Academics and institutions across Canada are collaborating with organizations from around the world to solve some of the globe’s most challenging problems. Many of these problems can be found in developing countries, where challenges related to education, healthcare, and infrastructure remain significant, although much progress has been made against difficult odds. Academics have taken a collaborative approach to addressing these challenges, working directly with individuals and organizations based in these countries to build the capacity they need to address these problems in the long term.

It was with the goal of supporting and organizing this crucial work that Academics Without Borders was founded.”

Read more of this article featured in Academica’s Today’s Top Ten in Higher Ed on May 29, 2018.

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Internationalization in Canada’s Universities: More than international students

AWB participated in a conference on Internationalization in Higher Education: New Trends and Future Directions for Ontario on November 3, 2017 in Toronto. At issue were all the ways that universities can connect their students and researchers with international universities, as well as recruiting international students to Ontario universities.

What does this have to do with AWB’s mission to enhance the capacity of universities in developing nations? One answer is that all of these activities generally benefit Ontario directly – bringing in high fee-paying students, and perhaps bringing highly-qualified immigrants to the country, whose prior training was paid for by another country.

Jonathan Rose, AWB Board Member and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, gave a presentation describing AWB’s method of giving back to universities in developing nations by providing host-driven projects supported by volunteer academics and professionals from around the world to improve or create quality academic or administrative programs in universities in those countries. He also pointed out the incredible cost-effectiveness of AWB’s approach and suggested that there ought to be better balance in the “taking” and “giving” towards developing nations.

Conference participants offered suggestions as to funding sources that might be tried. One interesting suggestion was to look for “outreach” funding that is often attached to research and other grants that are provided by federal and provincial governments. Another interesting general suggestion was to leverage AWB’s work to connect Canadian universities and developing universities together to work on global problems such as global warming, making use of the broader reach and information possible by having broadly distributed locations on the planet.

The other presentations were concerned with understanding established universities’ attitudes towards providing international experience and access to research at global universities; there is a clear trend towards more interest in this from both universities and employers. The federal government is active in promoting Canadian universities as destinations for students in foreign jurisdictions and would like to do even more promotion. Other presentations looked at this in-bound mobility of international students from a college perspective, which is distinct from that of universities. Another presentation gave an Australian perspective on in-bound students into countries – the pit-falls and successes of an ongoing Australian program. An interesting take-away here: that it almost never “pays” to set up remote units of universities within foreign jurisdictions.

The attendees were a broad range of academic researchers, administrators of colleges and universities, including those now responsible for in-bound and out-bound internationalization at these institutions, and Ontario government education ministry employees.

The conference was sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education (CIHE) at OISE, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), and the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD).

AWB very much appreciated the opportunity to spread its message!

By Jonathan Rose, AWB Board of Directors and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto

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