Insights From the G7 International Higher Education Summit

We had the opportunity to represent IIE and U.S. higher education at the G7 International Higher Education Summit last month in Tokyo. The Summit took place from May 18-19 and was hosted by the Japan Student Services Organization and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The Summit was attended by representatives from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the European Union, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Korean National Institute for International Education (NIIED), the British Council, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), SEAMEO Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development (RIHED), and IIE.

Through our roundtable dialogues, meetings, and presentations the following insights rose to the top as the current trends and challenges facing global academic mobility, common to all G7 member states.

Five Global Trends in Academic Mobility

  1. Mobility is on the rise across the world and many countries are establishing hards targets backed by funding for both inbound and outbound student numbers.
  2. Bilateral exchanges are being supplemented by multilateral and institutional relationships increasingly backed by institution-level grants as opposed to individual opportunities (as is typical in the U.S.).
  3. Short-term mobility programs are on the rise and yet questions remain as to the relationship between the length of study and the experiential significance.
  4. We are seeing a rapid growth in non-traditional education activities abroad, including internships, mentorships, and volunteering.
  5. The concept of mobility itself is changing; we now need to include and address a wider variety of issues such as offshore and transnational education, joint and dual degrees, and international education in the digital space.

Five Challenges We Jointly Face

  1. The refugee crisis spanning from Europe to Southeast Asia, which we can expect to increase and challenge the nature and function of education in all our societies. The question remains as to what is the response by the global higher education community?
  2. Quality assurance of study abroad means that a common platform and standards are needed if the “study abroad” mechanism is going to contribute to larger aspirations regarding student mobility.
  3. Rising costs of both higher and international education must be democratized and should not be reserved for the economic elites nor should it serve to perpetuate economic inequality.
  4. Employability/workforce needs must be taken into greater account by universities so that educational programming practically supports the local, regional, and global demand for skills now and in the forecasted future.
  5. Demonstrating impact is a priority in lean financial climates and therefore collecting and sharing data regarding the importance of international engagement on students, institutions, employers, and society must become an intentional underpinning of our work.

On behalf of IIE we wish to thank both JASSO and MEXT for organizing and hosting such an important gathering regarding key academic mobility issues. The opportunity for like-minded organizations to meet and discuss important trends and current themes, and to offer and share solutions was invaluable.