From Experience to Expertise

On June 13th the EU funded project Educational Quality for inclusive international Programmes (EQUiiP) held its final conference at the University of Freiburg in Germany. The aim of EQUiiP was to bridge the gap between educational development and higher education internationalisation. An international perspective on educational development so far had been lacking.

The title of the conference could not have been more fitting: From Experience to Expertise. In one way  this title symbolised the journey of the seven university partners in the project. We all started with our own limited area of expertise. Some had a language focus, others were experienced in teacher training and curriculum design, and again other partners had been working on intercultural competence development and the dynamics of the international classroom. By working together we not only learned to look beyond our ways of working within our own universities and national contexts. To bridge our own gaps, we were challenged to explore the connections with other academic fields and perspectives on internationalisation.

In another way, this conference title reflected the intellectual outputs of the EQUiiP project. The Freiburg  conference showcased a first comprehensive  educational development perspective on higher educational internationalisation.

Early on in the project we realised that the partners in the project had different perspectives on how to understand the concept of an educational developer. Was it a function or a job? Was its focus academic or professional support? As one of the outcomes of EQUiiP, we defined educational developers as senior academics who, as part of their role, support lecturers pertaining to the design and the delivery of university programmes and courses.

We debated the need for professional standards related to the international competences such an educational developer would need in support of designing  international programmes and teaching in the international classroom. This resulted in the EQUiiP International Competency profile for educational developers. The profile describes eight competences, the underpinning values, attitudes, knowledge and skills, and articulates the conditions for excellence for educational development in higher education internationalisation .

Further, we developed a continuous professional development programme (CPDP) aimed at developing these international competences. This programme, titled ‘Designing and teaching inclusive international programmes’, covers five modules; an introduction to the key concepts and  approaches to higher educational internationalisation, internationalising course design, facilitating intercultural group dynamics, and the role of languages in the international classroom The final module offers an introduction to feedback activities and reflective processes and cuts across all other modules.

These EQUiiP outputs were developed in an iterative process, in which the separate development activities informed and built on each other during project and the two try-outs of the full CPD programme. The rigour of the programme development was further supported by peer observation during the try-outs and by accompanying research on the added value of the programme.

At the Freiburg conference, we demonstrated that the EQUiiP professional development programme can function as a powerful tool to transform experience with international higher education into expertise on designing and delivering inclusive international progammes and teaching in the international classroom. We shared taster sessions and launched the EQUiiP open online platform ( All the training resources are available on this platform, which further  includes a user guide, the International Competency profile, thematic texts and short topical videos.

From September 2019 onwards we focus on the further dissemination and implementation of the lessons learned from EQUiiP. Among others, Karen M. Lauridsen, associate professor (emerita) at Arhus University, and I will be co-authoring a book titled ‘Enhancing International Programmes in Higher Education – An Educational Development Perspective’. In this book we bring together educational development perspectives from across the world on higher education internationalisation and how the quality of international programmes can be enhanced by CPD programmes such as EQUiiP, aimed at enhancing the international competences of educational developers.

Higher education institutions interested in enhancing the quality of their international programmes can make use of the consultancy opportunities for research into the added value of internationalisation and training on leveraging the benefits of the international classroom.