Academic freedom was one of the key topics of this year’s annual conference of the European Association for International Education (EAIE), held September 11-14 in Geneva. The 2018 Constance Meldrum Award for Vision and Leadership was presented to CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff, in recognition of CEU's defense of academic freedom in Hungary after legislation targeting the university was introduced in 2017. In his speech, which was attended by over 1000 participants at the opening plenary, Ignatieff stated that “academic freedom is not a partisan political issue. It is not a value of the left, it is not a value of the right, it is a European value. It is a universal value, and we need to stand, and defend it as such.”
CEU Provost Liviu Matei chaired a session on Optimising internationalisation, inclusion and diversification through an admissions learning community; and Monica Jitareanu, global partnership officer, and Agnes Leyrer, academic cooperation officer hosted a Poster Session on ‘The experience of PhD candidates who teach at foreign campuses,’ introducing the CEU Global Teaching Fellowship Program.
CEU’s current situation in Hungary and lex CEU was discussed in two sessions. Maria Trofinova, dean of international programs at the European University at St. Petersburg (EUSP) gave a presentation on the case of the EUSP at the Threats to academic freedom in Europe: a roundtable discussion session, chaired by Jitareanu. Participants discussed what to expect in situations of infringements of academic freedom, what can be done, and what kind of support partner universities can provide.
The session ‘Politics and education: when the ground disappears under your feet’ offered a personal insight into the practical side of attacks on academic freedom. Ceren Genc shared her experience as an administrative colleague at one of the universities in Turkey which was suddenly closed in 2015. Leyrer then talked about how administrative staff at CEU experienced the political circumstances and attacks on the university in Hungary since the spring of 2017. The audience of over 100 people applauded the initiatives that universities and individuals take to tackle the political challenges they face.
The Annual Conference of the European Association for International Education (EAIE) is the largest conference focusing on the internationalisation of higher education in Europe. This year, the conference highlighted the importance of connections beyond our continent with the motto “Facing Outwards.” Over 5700 higher education professionals from 95 countries joined the event. CEU was represented by the Provost Liviu Matei, and colleagues from CEU’s Academic Cooperation and Research Support Office (ACRO): Dorottya Urai, Erasmus coordinator, Monica Jitareanu, global partnership officer, and Agnes Leyrer, academic cooperation officer. The university was present at the Study in Hungary Booth (courtesy of Tempus Public Foundation: https://www.tka.hu/english), together with other Hungarian higher education institutions.
Watch the conference highlights here.