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Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America II

Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America (HEFAALA) II

Internationalization of Higher Education in the New Era of World (Dis)Order



Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America (HEFAALA) is an initiative of the International Network for Higher Education in Africa (INHEA), launched in 2016 in collaboration with the Center for International Higher Education (CIHE) at Boston College. The forum fosters dialogue, research and communication in higher education in recognition of the enormous common challenges as well as growing opportunities in the three regions and beyond. It brings together researchers, academicians, university leaders, policy makers, development partners, graduate students and others from the three regions, in order to engage in productive dialogue, and form and strengthen their networks for further action. It also uses a variety of channels to communicate the major tenets of the discussions with those who could not be at the Forum, in order to sustain the dialogue at a broader scale.

The inaugural symposium (HEFAALA I) – themed “Continental Realities, International Imperatives” – was held in August 2016 in Durban, South Africa. It brought together delegates from nearly twenty countries to engage in robust discussions and rigorous analyses of topical higher education issues of regional, trans-regional and international significance by leading experts from the three regions and beyond. The three-days forum discussed and debated on several key themes including:

  • Trends in global and African higher education
  • South-South and South-South-North co-operation
  • International/Regionalization: Academic Mobility, Brain Drain/Circulation
  • Access, Expansion, and Institutional Differentiation
  • Quality and Relevance
  • Similarities and Peculiarities in the Global South
  • Doctoral Education, Research Capacity, and Knowledge Production
  • Governance, Leadership and Management

Building on the experiences and reflections from the first symposium, HEFAALA II – themed “Internationalization of Higher Education in the New Era of World (Dis)Order” – was held in July 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Format and themes of the symposium

HEFAALA II, which was jointly run along with the 17th International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa (organized by St Mary’s University), kicked off with three parallel Master Class Workshops, with three themes facilitated and presented by prominent experts from the three continents and beyond.:

  • University Leadership in Steering Internationalization in Higher Education: Roles, Responsibilities and Challenges
  • Advancing Research in Higher Education: Realities, Possibilities and Myths of Partnerships, Cooperation and Networking
  • Building Capacity in Quantitative Research through International Cooperation and Partnership

The Symposium was graced by two keynote messages: Internationalization of Higher Education: Global Realities and Perspectives by Prof. Hans de Wit, Director of the Center for International Higher Education, Boston College, and The Climax of Globalization: The Endurance of Internationalization, by Dr. Ebrima Sall, formerly the executive Secretary of CODESRIA, now Trust Africa, Dakar, Senegal.

The symposium was particularly designed as a series of round-table panel discussions where a number of key questions guided the respective themes with anticipated outcomes. This was systematically designed to ensure an in-depth conversation and critical analysis to contribute towards the dialogue, and shape emerging discourses and phenomenon in the service of the respective stakeholders in higher education and beyond.

The topics that were covered by the Symposium include:

  • Dialogue in the Internationalization of Higher Education: The Role of HEFAALA and the Significance of the Symposium
  • Key Trends and Developments in the Internationalization of Higher Education in the Global South: Asia, Africa, and Latin America
  • Advancing Research and Innovation in Higher Education through International Partnerships: What are the New Frontiers in the New Era of Global Development Politics?
  • Private Higher Education in the Realm of Internationalization: Old Challenges and New Realities in Institutional Partnerships, Cooperation and Competition
  • Technological Advances in Educational Delivery as Drivers of Internationalization of Higher Education
  • Academics and University Leadership in Advancing Internationalization: Synergy, Coordination, and Discord.

Several doctoral students also got an opportunity to discuss their thesis and research as well as network with the key intellectual leaders and officials. These and other post-graduate students—registered in institutions in South Africa, Ethiopia and Norway—were given different roles in the Symposium and the conference including paper presentations and writing reports–experiences which were commended.



Some of the issues discussed at the Symposium, particularly the debate triggered by the first keynote speaker, Prof. de Wit, on his definition of Internationalization, was responsible for more than half-a-dozen articles published by the University World News and the International Higher Education. Also, a subject of dialogue in this issue, the following illustrates the extent of the debate so far:

  1. Defining internationalization – Intention versus coercion, University World News 23 August 2019 (Damtew Teferra)
  2. We must end coercion in internationalization in Africa, University World News 07 September 2019 (Hans de Wit)
  3. Internationalization – The search for a definition continues. 21 September 2019 (Damtew Teferra)
  4. Internationalization – No such thing as a neutral definition. 02 October 2019 (Hans de Wit)
  5. In practice, internationalization fails to be intentional. 17 October 2019 (Abebaw Yirga Adamu)
  6. Exploring emancipatory perspectives in internationalization. 14 November 2019 (Teklu A Bekele)
  7. Internationalization of higher education is not neutral. 08 February 2020 (Hanne Kirstine Adriansen)

Some of these articles were re-published by RUFORUM and on such sites as The Chronicle of Education and Research and Education Network for Academic and Learning Activities. Furthermore, half-a-dozen papers appeared in the University World News, as a special issue.

A special issue of International Journal of African Higher Education (IJAHE) is published as an output of the Second HEFAALA Symposium contributed by number of higher education experts—from Africa, Asia and Latin America— who attended the event. The topics and contributors include:

  1. Strategic profiling of internationalization in universities in Uganda (Ronald Bisaso and Florence Nakamanya)
  2. The disjuncture between private higher education and internationalization (Wondwosen Tamrat)
  3. The Drive and Nature of internationalization of higher education in Zambia (Gift Masaiti & Nelly Mwale)
  4. Credit system and harmonization of higher education in Ethiopia: Practices and challenges (Abebaw Yirga Adamu)
  5. The climax of globalization: The endurance of internationalization (Ebrima Sall)
  6. Internationalization of higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: In need of robust policies (Jocelyne Gacel-Ávila)
  7. Internationalization and cross border mobility in Indian higher education (N.V. Varghese)
  8. Internationalization in higher Education, a western paradigm or a global and inclusive concept? (Hans de Wit)
  9. The Irrelevance of the definition of internationalization to the Global South: Intention versus coercion (Damtew Teferra)

As a spinoff of the symposium another book chapter by Damtew Teferra entitled “From ‘Dumb’ Decolonization to ‘Smart’ Internationalization: A Requisite Transition” was also published in Intelligent Internationalization: The Shape of Things to Come by Brill Publishers (2020).

The symposium also contributed to the realization of an edited book The Bloomsbury Handbook of the Internationalization of Higher Education in the Global South by Thondhlana Juliet, Garwe Evelyn C., Hans de Wit, Jocelyne Gacel-Avila, Futao Huang and Wondwosen Tamrat (Eds., 2021, Bloomsbury, London/New York).


Organization and funding

The Second Symposium of HEFAALA was jointly organized by INHEA and Saint Mary’s University, one of the leading private higher education institutions in Ethiopia. The event was organized in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the Association of African Universities, the Aviation Academy of Ethiopian Airlines, The Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the Center for International Higher Education, Boston College through a financial support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Several organizations and institutions—in Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Brazil, Mexico, Jordan, Japan, Germany, USA, to mention a few—have also supported their staff to attend the Symposium. The event attracted participants and presenters from the African Development Bank, the Association of Arab Universities, British Council, DAAD, the European Union Commission, GIZ, ICIPE, the Mastercard Foundation, NUFFIC, SARUA, UNECA, and the World Bank. Others also participated virtually from Argentina, Chile and Columbia. Through the funding made possible by Carnegie and others, participants from Burundi, Egypt, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, China, India and the United States attended the event.

Furthermore, half-a-dozen doctoral students were also sponsored to attend the event through a higher education project supported by Finnish-government which intends to advance research, pedagogy and policy in leadership and management in higher education which UKZN is part of.