Mobility as a Catalyst for Resilience and Renewal

International academic mobility has been a cornerstone of universities dating back as far as the 12th and 13th centuries when they began to flower throughout the European continent.  With a clear understanding of the multiple benefits of academic mobility and the rich and diverse learning environment it created, the University of Bologna, the oldest university in Europe, adopted the Constitutio Habita, an academic charter that ensured and protected the rights and free movement of a traveling scholar in the pursuit of education.  The widely referred to concept of “academic freedom” today stems from the idea of this charter.

Mobility took on a broader dimension with the emergence of Humanism in Europe in the late 15th and 16th centuries. Scholars and scientists the likes of Copernicus and Vesalius and the Dutch humanist and philosopher, Desiderius Erasmus, began to flock to universities in neighboring countries to immerse themselves in new cultures and discover new sources of knowledge and fresh perspectives on the physical and spiritual worlds. Latin, the lingua franca of university education at the time greatly facilitated mobility, much like the English language does today, and made possible the cross-pollination of thoughts and ideas that gave way to a European Renaissance, marked by the rediscovery of classical philosophy, art and literature.  Later, sea travel made way for the sprouting of universities in new continents, further extending opportunities for international academic mobility and reinforcing the importance and need for knowledge sharing.

We can’t deny the enormous impact internationalization has had on national universities across time.  Over the last three decades, cross-border collaborations in research have prompted huge advancements in fields such as science and health, engineering and technology, social and business sciences, and many others.  Major industries have succeeded in expanding globally thanks to the possibility of recruiting diverse talent from universities around the globe. Campuses have also become platforms where dedicated and ambitious youth from multidisciplinary and multicultural backgrounds gather and create startups that revolutionize markets and sectors. Through scholarship programs and new online formats, universities have also created impact and access beyond their borders. Clearly, there is no substitute for the enriching learning and teaching environment made possible through the internationalization of higher education institutions.

International academic mobility in all its forms has had moments of great growth, but has also suffered many set-backs. Although the impact of political and international agendas on higher education institutions has been constant throughout time, in recent years the sector has witnessed increasing tensions around mobility resulting from increasing populism, nationalist tendencies, and strong public anti-immigration discourses. Restrictions placed on international mobility in specific countries and regions have influenced the decision of top faculty and talented students on where to study or continue with their academic careers. Due to these limitations, cross cultural partnerships and alliances between universities have become more necessary than ever. Mobility programs such as Erasmus+ have allowed for students and educators to gain international and intercultural competencies that increase personal and professional development.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has altered higher education as we know it and has put into question the educational models of many universities.  We are not yet clear to what extent cross-border mobility will be impacted in this new paradigm although universities may be seeing important drops in foreign student enrollment and recruitment of international scholars. Study abroad programs and other cross-border activities for students and faculty have in large part also been cancelled at least for the near future. Despite these setbacks, the current crisis has also awakened new opportunities for education and cross border collaborations through the use of technology. COVID-19 also offers a chance to reboot and reshape academic mobility, making it more inclusive and more environmentally sustainable. Sustainability is a global priority and will need global solutions. By committing to educate responsible and globally-minded students, universities can help navigate this crisis and contribute to building a more sustainable and equitable world.

The long list of pressing concerns for most universities at this time cannot be avoided, and compromises will have to be made. We will need to work to make our campuses safe for our faculty, students and staff by applying the necessary protocols and taking the appropriate measures to reduce risks and pave the way for a full recovery of our educational activities. But in the process we cannot lose sight of the importance of keeping collaboration and mobility alive even as we adapt to our new reality.

International academic mobility has weathered many a storm since its early beginnings, and will most likely be faced with new threats and challenges in the years to come. But with every obstacle that is overcome and every threat that is appeased, universities will have acquired greater resilience, agility and awareness. Cross-border knowledge sharing and mobility are at the core of higher education institutions and must be preserved. Universities must work together alongside public administrations to ensure this is accomplished.

We commit to the following elements of a shared vision:

  • Ensured cross border collaboration and nurturing of diverse and globally-minded talent with a special focus on sustainability.
  • The maintenance and furtherance of cross border knowledge-sharing for the collective wellbeing of society.
  • Leveraging technology in higher education to enable maximum levels of interconnectedness and exploring more environmentally sustainable and equitable ways to connect across borders.
  • Collaborative efforts within the higher education ecosystem to streamline cross border flows of talent and knowledge.
  • Global collaboration to identify effective health related protocols that guarantee safe university campuses and at the same time facilitate international mobility.
  • Strongly embedded and upheld policies, actions and activities of diversity and inclusion across our educational institutions. Through unwavering example we will foster and promote much-needed tolerance, respect, and equality across our academic communities and the higher education sector as a whole.

Signatories in alphabetical order by institution:

  • Fred Swaniker, Founder, African Leadership University, (A. L. Network), Mauricius
  • Fadlo R. Khuri, President, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
  • Christina Paxson, President, Brown University, USA
  • Rutger Engels, Rector Magnificus, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Ahmad M. Hasnah, President, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar
  • Lawrence S. Bacow, President, Harvard University, USA
  • Koichi Tadenuma, President, Hitotsubashi University, Japan
  • * Santiago Iniguez, President, IE University, Spain
  • Edward Byrne AC, President and Principal, King’s College London, United Kingdom
  • Umran Inan, President, Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Andrea Prencipe, Rector, Luiss University, Italy
  • Anthony Grayling, Master, New College of the Humanities, United Kingdom
  • Martin Paul, President, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
  • Ignacio Sánchez Díaz, Rector, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), Chile
  • Liu Wei, President, Renmin University of China, China
  • Frédéric Mion, President, Sciences Po, France
  • Lily Kong, President, Singapore Management University, Singapore
  • David Garza, Rector & President Elect, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico
  • Dame Minouche Shafik, Director, The London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE), United Kingdom
  • Peter Mathieson, President, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Alejandro Gaviria Uribe, Rector, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
  • Federico Valdes, Rector, Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile
  • Felipe Portocarrero, Rector, Universidad del Pacífico, Peru
  • Lucas Grosman, Rector, Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina
  • Carlos Montufár, Rector, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador
  • João Sàágua, Rector, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa (NOVA), Portugal
  • Gianmario Verona, Rector, Università Bocconi, Italy
  • Isabelle Huault, President, Université Paris Dauphine-PSL, France
  • Santa Ono, President, University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada
  • Mamokgethi Phakeng, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Julio Frenk, President, University of Miami, EEUU.
  • Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger, Rector, Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), Austria
  • Peter Salovey, President, Yale University, USA

*Initiative coordinated by the Reinventing Higher Education Conference, the President’s Office and the International Relations Department at IE University in collaboration with its network of partners.

Key takeaways from a semester unlike any other

Key takeaways from a semester unlike any other

The 2019/2020 academic year has come to an end, and our students have experienced a semester unlike any other. What takeaways can we draw from this unprecedented period? How did this hurried switchover go over for students and teachers? The verdict that we are able to draw today shows a successful adjustment for the vast majority and provides useful lessons for the upcoming semester.

A New Online Campus Starting Fall 2020

A New Online Campus Starting Fall 2020

After a successful online spring 2020 semester despite an unprecedented emergency context, the start of the 2020/2021 academic year will allow all of our students to embark on a new year at Sciences Po in a safe and serene manner. With both physical campuses and an all-new digital campus available to them, courses have been redesigned to best suit all students.

Prof. Anne Cullerre: “Ruling the seas”

Prof. Anne Cullerre: “Ruling the seas”

Students both with and without previous military experience are able to enrol in Vice-Admiral Anne Cullerre’s course, “Ruling the seas”, provided that they have an interest in the “untamable realm” that is the ocean, with all of its geopolitical rivalries, territorial disputes, environmental challenges...and pirates. While “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”, a skilled sailor certainly makes a great teacher!

A Deep Dive Into the Heart of the Startup Nation

A Deep Dive Into the Heart of the Startup Nation

After a trip to Silicon Valley in 2017 and to the MIT in 2019, the Centre for Entrepreneurship’s third Learning Expedition took participants to Israel, a country equivalent in size to a French département that has the highest number of startups per capita in the world (1 in 6,000). What are the reasons for this “entrepreneurial miracle”, and how does it work? Loanne Guérin and Laura Salesse (first and second year students respectively in the Master’s in Finance and Strategy), two of the twelve students chosen to take part in the adventure, tell us about their experience.

Basic Relationships Between Epidemic, Economy, and Inequalities

Basic Relationships Between Epidemic, Economy, and Inequalities

The public debate on the current economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic has focused on rich countries. But how is this crisis truly “global”? What are the current inequalities with developing countries? Here is an overview with Jérôme Sgard, Professor of Political Economy at the Centre for International Studies (CERI) at Sciences Po and specialist in the construction and regulation of markets.

Study Abroad in Buenos Aires: Flora’s Urban Dream

Study Abroad in Buenos Aires: Flora’s Urban Dream

At Sciences Po, all third-year undergraduate students spend a mandatory year abroad studying at one of our 478 partner universities or pursuing an internship. After two years on our Paris campus, Flora Cerda chose to spend her third year at the Universidad Católica Argentina in Buenos Aires. In this video, she tells us about her experience and how it helped reinforce her passion and interests, and better define her choice of Master’s and future career goals.

Sciences Po Student Services: Helping all our talents to succeed

Sciences Po Student Services: Helping all our talents to succeed

Succeeding as a student isn’t just about your studies! From accommodation and visas to health and accessibility, Sciences Po staff support students across a whole range of issues. We work hard to free our students of all unnecessary difficulties so that they can complete their studies without hassle and make the most of this unique period in their lives. Our personalised student services are available to students at every stage of their degrees and can be adapted to the full range of their circumstances and needs. Hear more about them from Sciences Po’s Director of Students and Teachers’ Support and Services, Francesca Cabiddu.