Fulbright International Education Administrators in Brussels

On 18-20 October 2017, the Fulbright Commission in Brussels played host to 27 international education professionals from U.S. universities participating in the 2017 Fulbright International Education Administrators seminars in France and Germany.

The International Education Administrators (IEA) seminars help U.S. international education professionals and senior higher education officials create empowering connections with the societal, cultural and higher education systems of other countries. Grantees have the opportunity to learn about the host country’s education system as well as establish networks of U.S. and international colleagues over the course of an intensive two week grant duration. Grantees return with enhanced ability to serve and encourage international students and prospective study-abroad students. Learn more about the Fulbright IEA Program on the CIES website.

Fulbright IEA participants at a reception hosted by the U.S. Embassy to Belgium

During their time in Brussels, participants learned about opportunities to engage with higher education institutions in Belgium as well as support from the European Commission for U.S.-EU higher education partnerships.

Programming kicked off with a networking meeting hosted by the Académie de Recherche et d’Enseignement supérieur (ARES) and a visit to KU Leuven. At ARES, participants participated in a discussion on Latest Developments and Perspectives on Internationalization of Higher Education. Panelists included Professor Bertrand Hamaide, Vice Rector for Education and International Relations at Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles; Dr. Thomas Ekman Jorgensen, Senior Policy Coordinator of the European University Association; Francesca Maltauro, Policy Officer at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture; Anna Toivonen, Policy Officer at European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE); and Kathleen Van Heule, International Officer at Hogeschool Gent. Panelists and participants discussed important developments regarding the internationalization of higher education in Europe and in the U.S. over the last 10 to 15 years, and the main challenges regarding the internationalization of higher education.

At KU Leuven, Fulbright IEA participants learned about internationalization in a typically Belgian manner: over a sandwich lunch! They then had the opportunity to listen in on presentations as part of the university’s celebration of the tenth anniversary of its doctoral programs. “Looking Back to the Future” included a lecture on Developing World Class Researchers by Janet Metcalfe, Head of Vitae, as well as presentations by several PhD graduates.

Participants’ time in Leuven also included a walking tour of the city with Executive Director Erica Lutes and ended with a tasting of traditional Belgian beer.

On their final day in Brussels, participants visited the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture in the European Quarter of Brussels.

Graham Wilkie, Deputy Head of Unit, provided an introduction to international cooperation in higher education from the perspective of the European Union. Participants then learned about international credit mobility and Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees in a presentation with policy officer Hugo Sharp. Policy officer Attila Marjan and Bodo Richter, Deputy Head of Unit, then introduced participants to opportunities for international engagement available through the Jean Monnet activities and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.

The seminar also provided an opportunity for participants to come together for internal meetings and debriefings. After having spent the previous two weeks visiting campuses in France and Germany, attending meetings faculty and administration, government officials, and leading educational experts at public and private institutions, and taking tours of historical and cultural sites, participants enjoyed the opportunity to present their experiences and share what they would take away from the Fulbright IEA Seminar.

We wish the participants the best of luck as they return to the United States to implement new practices and build up partnerships with the institutions they visited while in France, Germany, and Belgium!