PREFACE *

 

At the present time, the European Union, under the Portuguese Presidency, is giving more emphasis to the educational sector and in particular is promoting the widespread internationalization processes within educational institutions (processes considerably promoted by EU actions and programmes). Millenium would like to join these efforts. The aim of this issue is to make better known and promote what has been one of the key instruments of internationalization of higher education: we are talking about the European Association for International Education (EAIE).

Although it has existed since 1989, and has proven its importance in the promotion and development of an international dimension in higher education institutions (in Europe, but also in other regions), EAIE continues to be largely unknown in Portugal, a country with one of the lowest participation rates in the Associationís activities. The publication of this special issue seeks to maximize the potential of opportunities offered by EAIE, by making ir better known amongst educational institutions. We hope that in this way we will be able to somehow motivate all the Portuguese professionals working in this field towards a more significant participation and a growing involvement in the Associationís activities.

Since their foundation in the Middle Ages, the European Universities have been international by nature. The growing academic cooperation, stimulated at the end of the 80s by EU programmes, required the organization and professionalization of the staff involved in international activities in higher education institutions. This was the context for the establishment of EAIE, in 1989, an organization which has encouraged and created several opportunities for the developmenrt of professional expertise, exchange of information/experiences and networking. EAIE has also given its members the opportunity of making and renewing personal contacts which are often the beginning of cooperation. Moreover, its activity has given a new status to international services in educational institutions and contributed to the definition of the professional identities and profiles of those working in the field. EAIE has also a growing relevance as an information and counselling source for the national bodies in charge of EU programmes and even for EU institutions/offices where decisions on policy and funding are made. In many situations, it also acts as a lobby for higher education interests. Besides the annual conferences, EAIE also organizes short-term training courses, it has occasional papers and special publications on up-to-the minute subjects, and it is responsible for an e-mail discussion list on international education, which allows its members to discuss and analyse specific issues connected to particular profassional sectors, which share the same concern for fighting for a truly international education.

Lastly, we should not forget the cultural and human aspects of these meetings. EAIEís programmes always include activites aimed at allowing its participants to come into contact with the cultural realities of the countries/cities where the events take place. In a time when English tends to become the academic língua franca, it is interesting to note that there is the concern for the expression of national cultures, which shows us that the underlying internationalization philosophy does not imply cultural and academic homogenization but, instead, reveals an effort towards harmonization expressing "unity in diversity", a EU slogan welcome from the very beginning. Both the work programmes and the cultural activities are settings for extremely rich professional and personal relationships. These work programmes and cultural activities provide the space and time for internationalization and make possible the establishment of diverse exchanges and the expression of a rich interculturality.

 

The conferences, one of the activities with most impact, are events not to be missed at all and a reference point for all who are interested in these issues.

From 1989 (Amsterdam) to 1999 (Maastricht), the developments were in fact surprising. The 16 sessions and the 6 workshops in 1989 evolved to 102 sessions and 16 workshops in 1998. The increasing thematic diversity and specialization were also worthy of note. As far as the short-term training courses are concerned, there was also this thematic diversification, though the courses which were centered on international education management were retained.

 

In its fifth year now, Millenium has tried to be a voice and an influence in the field of international education. In this issue are published:

 

  1. a group of articles on EAIE;
  2. a further set or articles related with the participation of academics/staff from the Polytechnic of Viseu in the Associationís activities;
  3. a list of references to articles on international education available in former Millenium issues.

The first group of articles were sent by EAIE itself. The first one, by Hilary Callan, Executive Director of EAIE, is an introductory text about the Associationís nature, activities and structure. It is followed by an article by Hanneke Teekens, the current Course Leader for EAIE training courses, which concerns the themes, formats and operational aspects of training courses. Belinda Stratton, EAIE Publications and Information Officer, provides some information about the coming annual conference on "Re-forming Higher Education; the international way", which will be held in Leipzig, Germany, from 30 November to 2 December 2000. Lastly, Sven Poller, Director of the International Center of the University of Leipzig, and Ulrike Renker, working at the Office of European and International Affairs of the same institution, and Local Coordinator for the 12th Annual EAIE Conference, welcome us to the city and the University of Leipzig, where the 12th Conference will take place, as mentioned above.

 

Following these texts, there will be a series of articles published in former Millenium issues, which have in some way resulted from the participation of the Polytechnic of Viseu in EAIE activities such as conferences and training courses. We are talking about pensées, opinions, or just brief notes written about a particular issue discussed in the confereces, or about learning experiences lived in an international context, for example in a city or other place, or even about people who were part of special moments. Although it would be foolhardy to try in these articles to evaluate the significance of the experiences of participants from ISPV in EAIEís activities, Millenium has undoubtedly been a privileged arena for sharing the ideas and feelings which participants brought from the most diverse places.

 

Finally, as speaking about EAIE means speaking about international education, it was felt apposite to mention "Education with no Frontiers", one of Milleniumís sections which has tried, from the very beginning, to register and disseminate information about internationalization activities and opportunities concerning the Polytechnic of Viseu, other institutional bodies and also about countries, cultures and education systems. Those interesed in having access to this information, which is listed here, should consult URL: www.ipv.pt/millenium. And because the strength of the Association is in its members, we would like to appeal for a greater participation of members and the involvement of potential associates. A pioneering institution in Europe, EAIE, now after 11 years of activity, is trying to grow up as an institution and reinforce its position as a point of reference on the international education scene and as a catalyst for further development. EAIE is waiting for you!

 

SÓNIA SILVA

International officer at the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu

 

Reference:

EAIE (1999) Ė Europe in Association. The First Ten Years of the European Association for International Education: EAIE.

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* Translation: Sónia Silva / Revision: John McKenny

SUMÁRIO