Session highlights

​“We are seeing evidence of an increasingly polarised world and of geopolitical fault lines forming internationally that will have profound implications on the way that higher education institutions interact with each other. As these fault line emerge and the world becomes more divided, I worry what this means for universities engaged with partnerships internationally.  Suddenly the desire we all have had since our establishment to exchange ideas and exchange people student and staff across the world and to collaborate which is central to the DNA of our universities becomes fractured.” Laurie Pearcey, Pro-vice-chancellor international of UNSW, Australia. 

  • Keeping partnerships going in difficult circumstances takes extra resources in terms of time and money said Funmi Olonisakin, Vice President and Vice Principal International, King's College London, UK. “In a post-Covid world our partners will know who cared for them. We top universities have to put our voices together to promote our values and make a difference,” she said.
  • Australian universities are struggling under the weight of a range of new legislative and regulatory rules and the new power of the foreign minister to veto agreements they make that are deemed to be inconsistent with foreign policy, said Laurie Pearcey, Pro-vice-chancellor international of UNSW, Australia. There are reports of 6,000 prior university agreements that have had to be reported for scrutiny and that was likely to have a worrying effect on future partnerships. 

Session summary

Covid-19 has been a catalyst for change in the way international education partnerships are established, managed and delivered.

Many post-pandemic partnerships have a distinctly different look and feel to how they did just 12 months ago.  It could be argued that many of these changes were long overdue and, if implemented well, should lead to more sustainable, cost-effective and fruitful partnerships in the future. But at the same time, change for changes sake is not necessarily a good thing - 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. 

This session will explore some of the changes to international education partnerships as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic through the eyes of current successful bilateral and multilateral partnerships.  The session will discuss the impact of these changes, both the good and the bad, as well as drilling down into the fundamentals of successful partnerships and aspects that perhaps should not change, regardless of the world around them.


  • Chair: Jazreel Goh, Director Malaysia, British Council, Malaysia
  • Prof. Dato’ Dr. Imran Ho Abdullah, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, National University of Malaysia, Malaysia
  • Funmi Olonisakin, Vice President & Vice Principal International, King's College London, UK
  • Laurie Pearcey, Chief Executive Officer of UNSW Global Pty Ltd and Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), UNSW Sydney, Australia