International Strategy for Higher Education Institutions

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Banff National ParkThis News and Views page is my Blog.

I use it to:

  • comment on topics relevant to those working in international education
  • share tips and advice on internationalisation approaches
  • highlight training, conferences or events that I am involved with
  • link to helpful or interesting news items, reports or other resources

This page shows the ten most recent blog articles. A complete list of all articles since the blog started in May 2014 can be found on the Blog Archive page.

Vicky Lewis Consulting Blog

A journey through time and into the future

Posted on 10 Jul 2024 at 14:41 by Vicky Lewis

2024 - 2034 ?


This is the fourth and final blog in my ‘journey through time’ series. I used the previous three to reflect on my 30 years in the international HE sector, one decade at a time.

Part 1 covered 1994 – 2004

Part 2 covered 2004 – 2014

Part 3 covered 2014 – 2024

In this final blog, I thought it would be interesting to look into the future. What might the next ten years have in store for me, career-wise, and for the international higher education sector more broadly?

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A journey through time - Part 3

Posted on 3 Jul 2024 at 12:30 by Vicky Lewis

2014 - 2024

2014 - 2024This is the third in a series of blogs reflecting on my 30 years in the international HE sector one decade at a time. The first one (covering 1994 to 2004) can be found here, and the second one (covering 2004 to 2014) here.

Each blog is part reminiscence about how my career developed in the decade concerned and part commentary on what was going on in the sector.

This one brings us up to the current day.

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A journey through time - Part 2

Posted on 26 Jun 2024 at 16:44 by Vicky Lewis

2004 - 2014

2004-2014This is the second in a series of blogs reflecting on my 30 years in the international HE sector, one decade at a time. The first one, covering 1994 – 2004, can be found here.

Each blog is part reminiscence about how my career developed in the decade concerned and part commentary on what was going on in the sector.

This one is quite UK-focused. It would be interesting to hear about key developments during these years in other parts of the world.

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A journey through time - Part 1

Posted on 19 Jun 2024 at 12:56 by Vicky Lewis

1994 - 2004

1994 - 2004I started working in international higher education back in September 1994.

This is the first in a series of blogs reflecting on my 30 years in the sector one decade at a time.

It’s part reminiscence about how my career developed in the decade concerned and part commentary on what was going on in the sector.

This first blog may resonate with those who have been working in this field as long as I have (you know who you are!).

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Zooming out

Posted on 5 Jun 2024 at 17:37 by Vicky Lewis

Lessons from beyond the UK bubble

Paul Skorupskas - UnsplashAt a time of policy turmoil and uncertainty, it can be easy to forget the world beyond our UK higher education bubble.

Or else we focus only on what’s going on in ‘countries like us’.

Of course, it’s extremely valuable to learn from the experiences of other anglophone countries. And there have been some great webinars and podcasts recently, which have provided useful commentaries on recent developments in Australia and Canada.

These include:

However, I’ve also been reminded by articles in publications such as University World News, Times Higher Education, ICEF Monitor and the EAIE’s Forum magazine, as well as by conversations with (and LinkedIn posts by) colleagues in other parts of the world, that it’s helpful to lift up our heads and take note of developments in other higher education systems, beyond the usual suspects.

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Focusing energy on what we can change

Posted on 3 May 2024 at 17:17 by Vicky Lewis

Reflections on IHEF 2024

Enabling change

I spent the last couple of days at UUK International’s International Higher Education Forum (IHEF 2024). It was the first in-person IHEF since before the pandemic and I really enjoyed the combination of thought-provoking sessions and personal connections.

On the train back last night, I was reflecting on my immediate impressions and key themes.

Simplifying things drastically, I came away feeling that Day 1 was an opportunity to share our common woes (within the UK and with colleagues in the US, Canada and Australia), while Day 2 was more about pulling ourselves together, taking stock of the facts, coming up with some positive actions we can take, and considering perspectives from outside our ‘Anglosphere bubble’.

Sharing challenges, sometimes with a kind of gallows humour, was cathartic, but I was taken with what Sir Mark Walport said in the closing panel session. It was something along the lines of:

There’s no point expending energy on moaning about the things we can’t change. It’s much more important to focus on all the crucial work we are in a position to tackle.

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My April antics

Posted on 23 Apr 2024 at 16:56 by Vicky Lewis

Taking time out

1926 Motor Coach Tour

I’m coming to the end of a four-week break from consultancy.

I decided earlier this year that I’d try to take April off work to deal with a specific personal project – and I told lots of people about my plan to reduce the chance of me backing out!

The project is sorting the contents of dozens of boxes of letters, travel journals, unpublished (and some published) writings, photos, slides, sketches, significant documents and mementos that I brought back from my mum’s house after she died in 2017.  As an only child of another only child, belonging to a family with hoarding tendencies, this is a mountain of a task.

I had been telling myself for years that I would try to reduce my working week to four days and spend my Fridays on the sorting exercise. This didn't happen. Work always took precedence.

I realised I’d have to treat it like a work project and allocate a decent chunk of time to it. April seemed like a good month to pick. Clients often take time off over Easter and I had a lot of assignments finishing in March.

As the time approached, I also recognised that doing something completely different for a whole month would have some much-needed spin-off benefits.

When I became self-employed eleven years ago, I was determined to keep my evenings and weekends largely work-free: something I had singularly failed to do when employed within universities. For my first decade of consultancy, I pretty much stuck to this. Weekend working was very much the exception.

However, I noticed that my discipline was starting to lapse in late 2023 and early 2024. Work was creeping into weekends. Sometimes I’d skip the 7.45am walk with which I always try to start the day when I’m working from home. I was working longer hours but being less productive.

As well as allowing me to make inroads into the box-sorting, taking April off would help me to reset my work-life balance.

As a freelancer, it really went against the grain to tell prospective clients that I would be unavailable until May, given that I didn’t actually have any work lined up in April. But I made myself do it and I’m very glad I did.

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How my international education career started

Posted on 11 Apr 2024 at 10:13 by Vicky Lewis

A trip down memory lane

Sri Lanka memories

I’ve had cause to reflect this year on what led me to embark on a career in international higher education 30 years ago.

In part, that’s because – much to my surprise – it really has been 30 years, which is enough on its own to make you stop and think! Where did the time go? It’s also because, since the start of the year, I’ve been asked to contribute to two publications which have made me ponder on how it all started.

The first was my ‘5 minutes with’ interview with Sophie Hogan for The PIE News. One of Sophie’s questions was ‘How did you find yourself working in international education?’.

My ‘in a nutshell’ response was:

After a degree in modern languages, two years as a freelance travel writer and another two working for a charitable foundation in Hamburg, Germany, I found myself looking for a job in rural Wales and ended up as International Officer at what was then University of Wales Lampeter. It was a new role and covered everything from managing Erasmus exchanges and devising marketing communications to organising the international student orientation programme.

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UK TNE in Focus

Posted on 27 Mar 2024 at 14:31 by Vicky Lewis

Repositioning for success

TNE in focusConfession time: it’s been over four months since my last blog. This happens every now and then when ‘work-work’ (consultancy) takes over. I hate it when I lose momentum like this as, the longer I go without writing one, the harder it is to re-start.

So, I’m easing myself back in by repurposing a conference presentation on transnational education (TNE) from earlier this month.

TNE certainly seems to be a hot topic. The majority of my recent consultancy work with universities has been TNE-related: whether helping to identify strategic priorities for institutional TNE development; formulating country-specific growth strategies; or advising on repositioning existing TNE provision.


And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Today’s blog draws on some thoughts about repositioning UK TNE for success, which I shared at the Westminster Higher Education Forum conference on Next steps for UK transnational education on 7th March 2024.

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Reflections on the benefits of language learning

Posted on 13 Nov 2023 at 15:40 by Vicky Lewis

A stepping stone to a global mindset

Language learningBack in August 2023, Durham University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen O’Brien, wrote a piece for the Higher Education Policy Institute, which argued that the current need for cultural diplomacy means there has never been a more important time for language study.

This inspired me to put out a call on LinkedIn to any languages graduates and speakers of multiple languages in my network. I asked them the following question:

‘What skills has language learning given you that you apply in your job?’

This blog takes as a starting point the many insightful responses I received.

It then delves into some broader issues relating to learning and using other languages, which I had great fun discussing with Professor Chris Hill and Professor Judith Lamie on their Think Education podcast in October.

This is all quite topical in light of the publication of the latest International Higher Education Commission report, ‘Is the UK developing global mindsets?’.

Read full blog post...

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