This article is part of a series covering the IE’s 13th Reinventing Higher Education Conference that took place from March 5-7 2023. The Stork’s current Editor in Chief, Roché Smith Rabie, was sent to the conference to cover the event and represent student voices. To learn more about the conference itself please refer to the previous article in the series here.
On March 5-7th, IE University and the University of Cape Town co-hosted the 13th instalment of the RHE Conference under the theme New Humans, New Society, New Higher Education.
The conference covered a range of topics from redefining global universities and leadership in tertiary education to international mobility and university partnerships. Out of all of these topics there were 4 that were recurrent in nearly every discussion: Diversity, the Accessibility of the Global Experience and the Students.
With the opening keynote from Mamphela Ramphele and panels on Ubuntu and North South relations, the theme of diversity was addressed in every aspect of the conference. It is an issue that can no longer be ignored, certainly not when the host country of the conference has such a rife history with the topic. It was refreshing to hear that so many universities agree and are encouraging the diversification of not only their students but also their faculty in terms of race, gender, age and abilities. Not only will this allow for a greater population to have access to tertiary education, but it will allow for a cultural and social shift towards a more inclusive and open minded community.
“An excellent university is a diverse university”– LAURA KOHN-WOOD, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT FOR UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, UNITED STATES
Global Experience for All
With the theme of diversity also comes opportunity, as to even reach university one has to have certain opportunities and resources present. This was discussed in detail in the mobility panel as although the fostering of interuniversity relations and exchanges can easily be made the opportunity for all students to actually complete said exchanges are few and far between. This is not because of the academic capabilities of said students but rather due to their financial or visa situations that limit their ability to receive a global university experience.
“It’s within the power and responsibility of every faculty member to immerse their students in global culture”-SHARAN SINGH, VICE PRESIDENT OF STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS FOR MINERVA UNIVERSITY
Student Centred Approach
The conference also had a unique perspective as to who should get a seat at the table, with the RHE conference featuring the perspective of students. With the host university, UCT, having a strong history regarding the voice of students as the campus is known to have been the centre of many student protests, the active involvement of the students was monumental. If you would like to know more about the student panel please read this article.
“Student should govern changes and not have to adapt to them”-ANDREA PRENCIPE, RECTOR OF LUISS UNIVERSITY, ITALY
All Talk and No Bite?
With all this said and all the discussion had and questions asked, one cannot help but wonder what now? What will happen after this conference? Will there really be a change? In all honesty these conferences are mostly about networking, however given the importance of the topics discussed one hopes that all this talk will actually turn into action by the time the conference reconvenes next year in Miami.
“There are a lot of big statements but no concrete solutions”-VICTOR MERAT, LE FIGARO ÉTUDIANT