LEAD Academic Network Symposium Highlights Visionary Leadership and Internationalisation in Higher Education

On July 4, 2024, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) hosted the LEAD Academic Network's symposium on Academic Leadership and Internationalisation. This event gathered prominent academics and leaders from universities worldwide to discuss evolving challenges in higher education and the necessity for innovative leadership to address these issues effectively.

Opening and Keynote Presentations

The symposium opened with an address by Anthony Antoine, Executive Director of the School of Governance at VUB. Prof. Chang Zhu, representing the LEAD Academic Network, welcomed participants and encouraged collaboration within the network. The keynote presentations then set the tone for the day, focusing on global challenges that require visionary leadership in higher education.

Prof. Lucien Bollaert from Ghent University, Belgium, highlighted pressing global issues such as economic shifts, climate change, digitalisation, and health crises, urging a rethinking of traditional university missions. He emphasized the need for transformational blended leadership at all levels to drive effective organizational transformation.

Prof. Marieta du Plessis from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, discussed the difference between diversity and inclusion, proposing actionable steps for fostering inclusive academic leadership, including cultural intelligence, equity-mindedness, and mentorship programs.

Prof. Luciano Saso from the UNICA network addressed the critical role of university networks in strengthening academic leadership, noting the challenges and opportunities posed by increasing digitalisation and the importance of international cooperation in shaping higher education.

Prof. Pius Achanga from Mountains of the Moon University, Uganda, identified the critical pillars for strong academic leadership in growing universities, focusing on institutional policies, good governance, and strategic partnerships.

Panel Discussions on Internationalisation and Research Collaboration

The second session, chaired by Prof. Chang Zhu, featured a panel discussion on academic leadership and internationalisation. Speakers emphasized the importance of visionary leadership and learning from successful international initiatives like the Bologna Process. They also shared institutional experiences in promoting internationalisation.

The third session focused on research policies, collaboration, and the impact of research. Speakers discussed how international research collaborations contributed to the internationalisation of higher education and institutional performance in various countries. They also shared challenges academics face in initiating international collaboration under different national contexts.

Roundtable and Concluding Remarks

In the final session, Zhengwen Qi from the EU-China Higher Education Research Center facilitated a roundtable discussion, allowing network partners to share their institutional experiences and future prospects for cooperation. The session highlighted cooperation areas such as teacher training and resource sharing.

The symposium concluded with remarks from Prof. Antonio Rendas, who reiterated the significance of continuing international cooperation, promoting exchanges, and enhancing strategic leadership in higher education.

The LEAD Academic Network symposium served as a crucial platform for discussing the future of academic leadership and internationalisation in various contexts. By fostering a collaborative environment, the symposium advanced the knowledge of academic leadership and reaffirmed the importance of continuing exchanges and cooperation among academic leaders.