The European Association for International Education EAIE has granted the University of Helsinki an award for its efforts in innovative internationalisation. Among the reasons listed by the EAIE is that the University is a pioneer in mainstreaming internationalisation.
In this context, mainstreaming means that the University has no separate unit or action plan for international affairs. Instead, an international perspective is included in all teaching and research as well as in support operations, such as everyday academic and human resources administration. According to Laura Howard, Vice-President of the EAIE, this model is not particularly common among universities.
”During the past eight years, the University of Helsinki has embedded internationalisation as a key component in all its core activities and support measures. This pioneering approach serves as a model and inspiration for others,” emphasises Howard.
Challenges to internationalisation
This year, the award for innovative internationalisation is being granted for the second time. In addition to the award, the University of Helsinki received international acclaim and an opportunity to promote its own model of internationalisation at the EAIE conference before an audience including university representatives from around the world.
“We feel that seeing the results achieved by the University of Helsinki will help other institutions to see that it is possible to make significant advances in making internationalisation part of the very structure of the institution,” states Howard.
Even though internationalisation has become a buzzword, the world outside academia poses its own challenges.
”In the current economic climate, the main difficulty is a lack of sufficient funding to implement the required and desired measures,” laments Howard.
The world is changing, and so is the University
Markus Laitinen, Head of International Affairs, received the award at the EAIE conference in Istanbul and is delighted by the acknowledgement, but believes that the University cannot afford to rest on its laurels. Instead, it must continue the mainstreaming of internationalisation on all fronts.
“The award is a recognition of the good work we’ve done so far, but it is also a challenge for the future. The world around us is changing, and the University will be more prepared for this change when internationalisation runs through the whole organisation,” states Laitinen.
Founded in 1989, the EAIE is an association promoting the internationalisation of higher education.