ITMO Imagines at EAIE Conference and Expo in Liverpool

The 28th Annual EAIE (European Association for International Education) Conference and Exhibition took place from 13–16 September 2016 in Liverpool. Over 5,200 participants from over 80 countries attended the conference along the River Mersey in north west England. The theme of the conference “Imagine…” not only reflected the location of the conference, the home of the Beatles, but also the desire of all those participating in the event, that in the words of John Lennon’s famous song, “the world will live as one”.

The universities involved in the 5-100 Russian Academic Excellence Project were all represented at a special booth at the exhibition. ITMO’s stand had many visitors from universities around the world trying to find common ground and mutual interests. The conference gave ITMO University a chance to strengthen existing partnerships with universities abroad and to establish new and fruitful ones.

Beyond the exhibition, the conference was packed with interesting sessions, networking events and knowledge-sharing opportunities. Everyone involved in international education at any level had an opportunity to learn from the vast experiences of all the presenters. However, Richard Gerver, the key-note speaker at the opening plenary warned against “looking for a silver bullet” during the conference, but rather to think about “a culture shift that will lead to a sense of empowerment”. He explained that “people find change cool if they feel they are at the leading edge of it, but they dread change if they are reactive”. “If we want things to move forward”, he said, “we have to shift the culture in our organizations”.

Increasing internationalization has many more facets than just simply increasing the number of international staff and students at the university. In fact, according to Laura Howard, the president of the EAIE association, “…the main benefits of internationalization are improvement in the quality of teaching and learning, and preparing students to live and work in a globalised world.” She also says that “...we should remember that it [internationalization] is not an end in itself but a means to improve quality and enhance the role of higher education as a service to society.

After only a few hours at the conference, soaking in all the experiences and learning from around the world, it became clear that what some universities have been trying to learn for decades, ITMO University has already achieved in only a few years. The speed and quality at which ITMO University has been able to apply lessons learned in internationalization from around the world to its own reality, attests to the capability of ITMO’s leadership and staff.

The next EAIE Conference & Expo will take place in Seville, Spain on 12 to 15 September 2017.