What steps are universities taking towards more sustainable internationalisation?

What steps are universities taking towards more sustainable internationalisation?

Insights from EUF member institutions

The latest session of the EUF Knowledge Exchange Community series, “The paradox of internationalisation and sustainability: to what extent is sustainable internationalisation possible?”, took place on the 29th of March 2023. The event focused on how environmental sustainability can be embedded in internationalisation practices and how this topic will evolve in the years to come. 

In the first part of the session, invited speakers from EUF member universities showcased initiatives to make internationalisation activities more sustainable. Sami Patrikainen Skogstad, from the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, shared their experience with implementing a top up for green travel – an initiative that was created particularly because of student demand – and their views on the role that internationalisation can play in the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Leonard Creutzburg discussed how the University of Zurich is planning to embed sustainability practices in staff mobility: after describing UZH’s targets to reduce flight-related greenhouse gas emissions, he presented specific measures at faculty level to cut back on flights and look for alternative transport options. 

The group discussion in the second part of the session started with the presentation of a series of resources to support HEIs in developing a more sustainable internationalisation process. Jan Borm, Vice-President in charge of International Relations at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ) and chair of the session, focused on the outputs of the Erasmus Goes Green (coordinated by UVSQ) and Green Erasmus projects. One of these outputs is the recently published Handbook for sustainable internationalisation, which showcases the state of play of sustainability across European HEIs, and good practices and tools that can be useful in this process. Additionally, the handbook contains a workshop manual and a presentation titled “Mobility and sustainability: How sustainable will your Erasmus experience be?”. The workshop can be easily implemented by HEIs to help outgoing students to understand the impact of their mobility on the environment and to engage in more sustainable behaviour while abroad. 

Finally, participants shared insights on the future of Erasmus+ and of mobility in general, taking into consideration the need to make the programme more environmentally sustainable, and also discussed the question of HEI staff travel in particular. The conclusions of the session will hopefully impact the way environmental sustainability is embedded in HEIs’ internationalisation practices.

Cover photo by Vlad Hilitanu on Unsplash