“The real touch & feel of a global university”, Mina Lardi

mεlite hosts once a month inspiring stories from friends and colleagues, who apart from being ultra-cool, they in their own way offer something special to education.  This month, Mina Lardi, a friend with a unique international experience in Higher Education discusses the benefits and impact of a truly international University. Enjoy!

Mina is a professional in the field of education management, focusing mainly on international development planning and implementation for tertiary education institutes that focus on cross-border education and transnational student mobility. After having spent almost five years abroad between countries in Asia and Africa such as Malaysia, Cambodia, China ,Singapore, S. Korea, Thailand , Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, she decided to return home in order to bring her passion for education into action for the one country she loves the most, Greece. She believes that change and community development comes through educating people in a creative, internationally focused, tech – savvy, environmentally friendly and socially responsible way that is relevant today as well as in the future.MinaL

So, what does it really mean to experience and work in a truly international higher education institution?

I feel very fortunate for having had the opportunity to work for a truly international higher education institution such as Limkokwing University of Creative Technology. This experience has been one of the most important milestones of my life that has shaped who I am today as well as my future plans to contribute in the internationalization of Greek education.

Having spent significant time with students from approximately 150 countries and worked together with international staff as well as partners from around the globe on a daily basis, I have started to look at things related to education from an entirely different perspective, one of international education that plays a significant role in the development of local and national economies as well as the development of cross-cultural learning practices and teaching methods. I have seen in practice how an education institute can positively affect the local as well as international community within which it operates, by educating youth how to innovate and create a future for themselves.

In countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Cambodia and many others, a higher education institute can play the role of a catalyst for the development of these local economies. Countries such as the above mentioned lack in being able to provide their natives with up to date quality tertiary education without their students having to study abroad. Education institutes that will take the leap and put their efforts in globalizing and exporting their education curriculums and services by reaching out to these countries, will soon realize that there is a great need to do so and that they would be most welcome by the local communities there.

The establishment as well as the integration process into these local communities takes great effort but being able to see this institute growing from nothing into one of the most vital contributors in the development of the youth of that particular naMina_internationaltion is amazing. Educating a nation is after all the best way of providing them with the necessary tools to shape their own future. Within a span of four years a great number of local teachers have been trained by the foreign institute and employed by it to teach their youth, young graduates have graduated and set up new companies as well as business ventures that did not even exist in the past and created jobs for others too.

It is the process of empowering young people to create change in their communities that is indeed the most attractive part of all.

An education institute has to take its role of educating people very seriously. It is not a simple task of transferring knowledge from one generation to another but actually meeting the demand of human capital development for the respective communities. Where you educate people, new business ventures will be created and more development will take place.

MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) are disrupting Education globally as we speak. Thinking ahead, what do you think are the most important future trends in Education?

Change is happening at a fast pace and it is happening now in higher education, due to technology developments. Tertiary education institutes must review their entire role as well as their functions and adapt to the demands of 21st century learning by providing flexible, industry – relevant and tech savvy learning opportunities.

1. Rapidly increasing student mobility across the globe

Students are no longer only moving within the same continent but also seek opportunities to travel at the other side of the globe in order to complete part of their degree or practical training. In the future on line technologies will simplify credit transfer and assessment systems and monitoring of the students progress from the home country University so much that students will really be able to choose the locations, as well as the institutes that they would like to study at and still graduate from their home country institute.

2.   Increase in the number of Global University Partnerships and the creation of clusters of Universities within which curriculums are shared and students are mobile

Due to the rapid increase in the mobility of the students worldwide University partnerships are formed in order to provide students with a large network of partnering Universities in which they can complete part of their studies without having to worry about credit transferring and assessment issues. This type of Networks such as Laurette Universities for example is becoming more and more popular.

3. Creating an Incubation Units and Research Centers Ecosystem

It is a necessity for the universities to support entrepreneurship, applied sciences and scientific research among their students. Universities will develop incubation units and research centres, where students can conduct extensive research as well new business ventures with the support of the university and its industry partners in a more structured way.

4. Customized Trainings

A lot of higher education institutes are shifting their focus also into partnering with corporate sector and local or foreign governments in order to provide customized training programmes that will be delivered by the University itself in collaboration with the respective “client”, sometimes at the location of the “client’s” choice.

What can Greece or other countries with weak international relations staructures learn from other countries in terms of recruiting foreign students? What opportunities do you see?

I would say that one of the most significant needs of students nowadays besides creativity and innovation is to be able to criss-cross (move from one to the other) nations en route to complete their studies.

Even though Greece participates in a lot of student mobility programs such as Erasmus and Leonardo Da Vinci, funded by the European Commission, it lags behind in terms of hosting international students and immersing them in the Greek classrooms. This is happening due to the fact that majority of the curriculums on Bachelor Degree level programs are not designed to be delivered in a universal language such as English and local students are not prepared to be immersed in the same classroom as foreigners. However, there have been significant efforts in collaborating with foreign education institutes on postgraduate level in both public and private education sector.

Greece has always been considered as the birth place of Democracy, Civilization and Education for the entire world. Most sciences like maths, astronomy, geography, medicine, philosophy and many more developed in Greece have been the fundamental basis for the birth of all modern sciences of our world today. It’s about time that Greece will consider its heritage in the development of education as one of its most important assets. It is a wonderful opportunity for Greek Education to brand itself on that basis and promote it throughout the world.

There are very significant examples of countries such as Malaysia that have put up structures and processes in place to embed education as a sector vital to their Economies through attracting young individuals from different parts of the world to study at an exciting, culturally diverse and innovative environment. For a country that will host international students there are benefits both in the short and in the long run, such as increase of income, tourism, local community development, establishment of new business links , ventures, trade relations etc.green Mina

For Greece to be able to attract international students we need to look into the private tertiary education sector as the pioneer to drive the development in that field with the collaboration and support of the local government as well as the foreign missions. Private education institutes can provide high quality tertiary education to foreign students that would like to study in Greece in a much more flexible way without competing or interfering with the role that the public tertiary education institutes are supposed to play in providing free higher education for all Greek citizens. Private higher education should not be seen as a threat, rather as an opportunity to create a much more diverse, international environment in our own country that will assist in the further development of our local economy and our international relations.

Last question, how does your “dream-school”, look like?

I can picture a “dream school” as a dynamic collaborative learning environment where students can acquire knowledge, shape their values and life principles, experiment on new ideas and finally pass on their knowledge to others and use it to create positive impact on their communities and the world.

A “dream-school” would be created based on one main principle, that education will be the foundation of a better and sustainable future. Educating students requires a new vision for education and an improved curriculum that bridges the global digital divide, empowers young people with multicultural knowledge, builds talent through creativity and innovation and fuses the best of Asian, African and Western traditions with new technologies that create new perspectives for growth.

Faculties and teaching staff should integrate rather simple teaching methods keeping their focus on the key elements that shape students’ social behavioral patterns such as collaborative learning, critical thinking, cross cultural communication & understanding, creativity and motivation.

The curriculum of each course must integrate new or up to date technologies as part of the learning process and interdisciplinary collaboration among educators as well as students across different faculties within the same or different education institutes.

School facilities should evolve around creating both built as well as virtual learning environment.

Some standard ones should be: Computer labs, on line Learning Platforms, Collaboration Spaces, Innovation Spaces (physical and virtual), Recreational Spaces, Equipment Inventory (from where students and teachers can borrow equipment in order to conduct a lesson , assignment , project or even an extracurricular activity), Incubation Units where extensive research can take place and new business ventures can be set up and many other services such as clinic, food court , ATMs, link to public transportation, accommodation facilities etc

Community development is another sector that education institutes must engage in more actively and this is a sector to be looked into in collaboration with the students, teaching and management staff, with the management staff taking up the leading role.

Thank you Mina!

You can reach her at:

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=920006&trk=hb_tab_pro_top

E-mail: mina.lardi@mystudyworld.net  

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