On November 17, the presidents and rectors of several international universities from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America came together online to take part in a virtual conference entitled Reinventing Higher Education: New Realities, New Visions for Higher Education.
Hosted by Santiago Iñiguez, President of IE University (Spain) and Andrea Prencipe, Rector of Luiss University (Italy), the conference examined the different realities and changes brought about over recent months, mainly as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic, and also discussed the challenges related to new higher education models.
In their welcome address, both Santiago Iñiguez and Andrea Prencipe addressed the need for universities to remember their fundamental mission to act as intellectual anchors, not only for students but society as a whole, and posed several questions, such as how the pandemic and the different measures taken to limit its spread will affect education in the future, as well as what can be done to maintain international mobility for higher education talent, be it students, staff or faculty.
This was followed by a panel discussion: Beyond the Pandemic –Renewed Visions for Higher Education: A Global Perspective, moderated by Anne McElvoy, Senior Editor at The Economist. This featured A. C. Grayling, Master of The New College of the Humanities (UK), Frédéric Mion, President of SciencesPo (France), Mamogkethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and Nakano Satoshi, President of Hitotsubashi Univeristy (Japan).
Four main questions were put to the panel: (1) the challenge of new societal models and how universities are responding to this from a humanistic perspective; (2) international mobility, which prompted mixed feelings about the key value of physical interaction vs the benefits of virtual mobility; (3) financial models, such as the opportunities private-public initiatives present; and (4) sustainability, an issue the panelists unanimously acknowledged as requiring universities to leave their comfort zones and become agents of change, pushing for new opportunities and growth.
The final section of the conference consisted of a global round table, led by Geoffroy Gérard, the Managing Director of the IE Foundation, with contributions from leading international figures from the world of higher education. Under discussion were economic sustainability, with Fadlo R. Khuri, President of the AUB (Lebanon) and Federico Valdés, Rector of the UDD (Chile), international mobility, with Martin Paul, President of Maastricht University (The Netherlands ) and Patrice Geoffron, Interim President of the Université Paris Dauphine – PSL (France). Other topics included social and regional changes, with Ahmad M. Hasnah, President of HBKU (Qatar), and Carlos Montúfar, Rector of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador); new academic methodologies and research, with Umran Inan, President of Koç University (Turkey), Dilly Fung, Pro-Director for Education at the LSE (UK) and Lucas S. Grosman, Rector of the Universidad de San Andrés (Argentina). The final topic of discussion was the future of higher education, with Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Edinburgh (UK), Mathias Falkenstein, Managing Partner of XOLAS (Germany) and Nelson C. Baker, Dean of Professional Education at Georgia Tech (USA).
To conclude, this was a very special, purposeful and optimistic gathering that saw leading figures in higher education from all over the globe highlight once more the crucial role of international collaboration to, in the words of Santiago Iñiguez, “exchange ideas and suggest new lines of action to keep improving and enhancing higher education.”
Introduction & welcome
2:10 – 2:50 p.m.
Introductory panel: “Beyond the Pandemic – Renewed Visions for Higher Education: A Global Perspective”
2:50 – 3:30 p.m.
Global Round Table
Q&A and closing remarks