How do we envision the internationalization of higher education and how can we collaborate to achieve this vision? This was the underlying question asked during the NTU Family Meeting (NTUFM), which was held from November 6 to 11, 2019, at National Taiwan University (NTU) under the theme “Envisioning Internationalization”. Organized and hosted by NTU’s Office of International Affairs (OIA), the NTUFM was an invitation to partner institutions to exchange views, learn from each other, and deepen cooperation. For this purpose, 27 representatives from 20 selected partner universities gathered at NTU representing 10 countries, namely Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Poland, Singapore, and the United States.
The six-day program was kicked off on Wednesday, November 6, with a welcome dinner offering a first chance for the participants to interact and form connections. On Thursday morning the event was officially opened. The Opening Ceremony was attended by around one hundred guests including NTU’s four Executive Vice Presidents Prof. Chiapei Chou（周家蓓）, Prof. Ching-Hua Lo（羅清華）, Prof. Ming-Syan Chen（陳銘憲）, and Prof. Shan-Chwen Chang（張上淳）, the Deputy Vice Presidents for International Affairs Prof. Bi-Fong Lin（林璧鳳） and Prof. Chris Lin（林俊昇）, the NTUFM delegates, representatives from the Singapore Trade Office and the German Institute Taipei, representatives from the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan (FICHET) as well as international officers and staff of NTU’s colleges and the OIA.
After the Opening Remarks of Executive Vice President and Vice President for International Affairs Prof. Chiapei Chou, the event’s keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Hsiao-Wei Yuan（袁孝維）, director of the MOST Center for Global Affairs and Science Engagement (GASE). Prof. Yuan shared her vision for international higher education and especially emphasized the opportunities of government-industry-academia cooperation to reach mutual goals. Subsequently, the NTUFM delegates took the stage. In a panel discussion on the topic “Strategy, Innovation, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)” moderated by the University of Bordeaux, representatives from the University of Hamburg, Kyoto University, and the University of Sydney shared their approach, projects, and strategies related to sustainability. This sparked vibrant discussions for example on the role of SDGs for higher education, the methodology of SDG-focused university rankings, and increased cross-border mobility and its effects on climate change. However, all participants agreed that universities should set a positive example as socially responsible actors. The discussions continued in an informal setting throughout the afternoon while delegates toured the NTU Experimental Farm.
On Friday the NTUFM delegates as well as representatives from National Taiwan Normal University, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, FICHET, and NTU participated in three workshops on “Innovations in Study Abroad for Transformative Learning”, “Reinventing the Rules of Global Engagement”, and “Engaging Local and International Students: Practices and Issues”. Each workshop consisted of a kick-off session organized by colleagues from NTU, small group discussions hosted by NTUFM delegates, and a final plenary discussion. During the day delegates engaged in discussions on a wide range of topics covering the role of social media in studying abroad, best practices to create an intercultural campus environment, and the intriguing question whether a truly internationalized university will still need an international office or if alternative administrative structures provide greater benefit. As a last highlight, participants were greeted by the superintendent of the NTU Cancer Center (NTUCC), where the event was hosted, Prof. Ann-Lii Cheng（鄭安理）, and toured the newly opened facility to learn more about the innovative and world-class medical care offered to patients of the NTUCC.
On Saturday delegates joined the Study Abroad Fair, which was held outdoors on NTU’s campus. The Study Abroad Fair offered a great opportunity to get in touch with NTU students and promote student mobility between their institutions and NTU. The farewell dinner in the evening celebrated the successful program and the established collaborations in a relaxed atmosphere.
Based on the idea to welcome close partners to a family gathering, the first NTUFM served as an opportunity for participants to share strategies and best practices and jointly develop new approaches for the internationalization of higher education. Delegates were also able to experience life and culture in Taipei, for example during a historic walking tour offered on Sunday morning. During their stay at NTU, delegates and NTU colleagues had plentiful opportunities to discuss further projects for collaboration including joint dual degree programs and joint online courses. In essence, the event fulfilled the idea of “together we go far”, which was emphasized by Prof. Hsiao Wei Yuan in her keynote speech during the official opening ceremony. To further work towards internationalization we rely on close and vibrant relations to our partner institutions – and we look forward to shaping the future of higher education with them.