International Strategy for Higher Education Institutions

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Posted on by Vicky Lewis

A huge thank you!

10th AnniversaryWell, it seems like no time at all since I wrote a blog marking the fifth anniversary of becoming an independent consultant. Suddenly, it’s my tenth anniversary. How did that happen?

I feel the need to mark the ten-year point in some way and have been wondering what to say. Should I pass on top tips, lessons learned, or consider what advice I’d give myself if I was starting out today?

In the end, it struck me on an early morning walk that what I really want to say is a huge thank you!

To my collaborators

In my 5-year anniversary blog, I wrote about seeking to build niche expertise within the international higher education field - and to share this through research outputs, articles, blogs, conference presentations, webinars, workshops etc.

I feel privileged to have been granted wide-ranging opportunities to spout on about the things that fascinate and motivate me:

  • Global engagement and internationalisation strategies
  • The impact of geopolitics and national policies on international HE
  • International partnerships, international campuses and TNE
  • Ethical and socially responsible internationalisation
  • Intercultural experience and global employability
  • Building internal support and creating the right infrastructure for international engagement

Finding my niche would have been impossible without the huge number of people who have collaborated with me, encouraged me, presented with me, sat on a panel with me, interviewed me, been interviewed by me, delivered training with me, acted as a mentor or sounding board, shared ideas with me, or guided or supported my work in some other capacity.

To my clients

I am also truly grateful for the wonderful consultancy projects I’ve been engaged to complete over the last decade.

Highlights have included:

  • Being involved in the internationalisation strategy development process from start to finish in several HEIs
  • Getting to learn about other HE contexts (outside the UK) through projects with institutions in Australia, Malaysia, US, Israel, Sweden, France and Germany
  • Refreshing my appreciation of the nitty-gritty of leading an International Office through a six-month stint as interim director
  • Being able to use my research to inform my consultancy and my consultancy to spark ideas for research projects.

Every project brings with it fresh perspectives and new learning. I’ve had the chance to work with brilliant fellow consultants on some projects, which can be thoroughly inspiring.

A particular delight has been the ongoing relationship I still have with my very first three client universities, all of which I’ve worked with on multiple occasions over the years. I’m sure other consultants will be able to identify with the warm glow you get from being invited back!

Many thanks to all those who have entrusted me with consultancy projects for their institution.

Here’s to the next ten years

I clearly remember the people who gave up their valuable time to share insights and tips with me during my first years as a freelancer. I have always tried to ‘pay it forward’ with those just starting out on a consultancy career.

I guess I can probably call myself an old hand now. But that doesn’t mean I know where the next ten years will take me! As the pandemic has taught us, nothing is certain or linear.

I’ve recently embarked on some coaching sessions to give me space to reflect on how I would like the next decade to shape up. The (not very original) image I’m starting to see is that of a meandering river. At some points it’s wider, at others narrower, but it always contains a rich variety of (work-related and non-work-related) projects and initiatives that balance each other out and provide ongoing learning and inspiration.

As I ready myself for my metaphorical river journey, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all those who have helped to make the last ten years so fulfilling, whether as a collaborator (I’ve collaborated with some real stars) or a client (there have been some cracking clients too) or in some other way.

Your enthusiasm for international education is what keeps me motivated.

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