Internationalisation is top of the agenda for Scottish universities

Elisa Chirico is Connected Scotland Project Officer at Universities Scotland. She introduces “Internationally Scottish – Creating global communities”, a new publication showcasing international staff and students and their contribution to Scotland.

I’m absolutely delighted to share our new publication with the world. With this work, we want to celebrate international students, staff, alumni and the great range of global activities at Scottish universities and within their wider communities.

The project came about when our members discussed the importance of internationalisation at home practices across our 19 institutions. The group agreed to create a piece of work that showcases the incredible initiatives taking place at our universities. These stories would be told by those who experience them first-hand – students, staff, members of the community and global graduates who become inspiring influencers and ambassadors for Scotland worldwide.

“Internationally Scottish” collects 19 case studies from 18 Scottish universities. The case studies voice different experiences and perspectives – international students who meet up in a global room on campus to celebrate their culture and traditions, a group of students and staff who support the integration of teenage refugees, a group of academics joining the fight against the global pandemic and lots more.

Through these amazing stories, the publication aims to:

  1. Promote Scottish universities as welcome, open and outward-facing institutions;
  2. Celebrate our international students, staff and alumni and their incredible contribution to our universities, the local and global communities;
  3. Continue the excellent progress universities have made on internationalisation by agreeing on a number of commitments that will support the sector’s internationalisation ambitions moving forward.

As project lead for the publication, I learned a lot from this work and really enjoyed seeing it come to life. With thanks to the great response from the sector and support of my team, I can say that this has been among the most inspiring projects I have worked on so far. By reading all the stories that our members submitted, selecting material and going through the photos capturing the various activities, I felt inspired and energised by the work of our universities.

These are challenging times. The political context, climate emergency, and disruption caused by the pandemic, have changed our lives and the ways in which we operate. Despite uncertainties, these challenges have also translated into alternative and new ways of doing things. I look forward to working with the sector to support new mechanisms that will continue to deliver an excellent world-class education whilst remaining welcoming and international.