Embracing the Inevitable: Change Management and the Future of Higher Education

A mini-series for international educators, from Via TRM

Much has been said about the future of higher education and the responsibilities colleges and universities have to meet the needs of a changing job market.

As international educators, many of us are adept at responding to and addressing change through the very nature of our work. In our field, there are often more “unknowns” than “knowns”. Whether we are negotiating new international partnerships, helping international students acclimate to a new culture, or working to send more students abroad, practitioners in our field know how to face ambiguity with focus, creativity and dedication.

Although one could argue that dealing with change is very much a part of the role of an educator, it’s likely that many of us working in higher education could point to experiences within our institutions or organizations that speak to a resistance to change. For those of us who have held more than one post in the field: did you leave your last role because there was ample room for growth, excellent leadership and a culture of consistently improving the work at hand? I will venture to guess that the most common answer is “no, not exactly”.

The field of international education has changed dramatically over the past two decades.

Just look at the statements given in 1985 by then-president of NAFSA, Marvin Brown, on the “Responsibilities of International Educators”. Although several of his statements resonate with what many in the field aspire to today, little attention was giving to outbound mobility. Contrast these statements with the bold initiatives to double study abroad, from the U.S. with Generation Study Abroad, Canada’s Learning Beyond Borders, the UK’s Strategy for Outward Mobility and Australia’s New Colombo Plan.

How do these changes, at the government, institutional and even departmental levels, effect education abroad professionals?

In this article, we launch our latest mini-series on just this topic — Embracing the Inevitable: Change Management and the Future of Higher Education.

Why is reflecting on change as professionals in education important? As educators, our goal is to prepare students for the 21st century. This means preparing for a future of rapid digitization, automation, and an ever-changing workforce. Successful graduates will know how to face ambiguity with grit and ingenuity. In order to teach these competencies, educators need to be able to speak from experience.

Stay tuned for our 5-part series Embracing the Inevitable: Change Management and the Future of Higher Education:

Part I: 3 Theories of Change for International Educators; from business to education to the cognitive sciences, theories of change can help us navigate the future of higher education.

Part II: Key Tenets of Managing Change; 10 practical steps for managing the inevitable well. [Guest post from Catherine Pillsbury, Change Management Consultant.]

Part III: Don’t Get Stuck in the Sunk Cost Trap; key considerations when making decisions for your study abroad office or company.

Part IV: How Tech Changes in Study Abroad Benefit Students; making changes to keep students safe. [Guest post from KeynectUp.]

Part V: Moving From a CRM to a TRM Puts Students First; bonus evaluation tool-kit on what ROI means for your office.

Part VI: Ashoka’s Change Maker Campuses; inspirational interviews with campuses who are leading change.