The International Relations Coordinators’ New Manifesto and Response to the Covid Crisis

IRCs’ Manifesto 2020

The International Relations Coordinators (IRCs) Working Group of AEC, working on internationalisation and transnational mobility within the framework of the Strengthening Music in Society Project, has recently published its Manifesto 2020, which reflects the main vision and focus of the IRCs community for the upcoming years. The IRCs’ main goal is to provide international mobility opportunities and share best practices and experiences with the aim of preparing “global” and successful students, teachers, and staff. Thus, the IRCs play a vital role in defining and implementing the international strategy of their institution, with the support of both formal and informal meetings aimed at nurturing fruitful cooperation with international partners. Moreover, the IRCs commit themselves to the achievement of a sustainable approach to mobility actions and to the day-to-day running of international offices, setting an example of sustainable practice for their institution.

The Manifesto also defines the main values providing guidance for the work of the IRCs, such as trust, respect, inclusiveness, transparency, solidarity, equality, tolerance, flexibility, dialogue and collaboration. The focus of the IRCs is the well-being and development of both students and teachers by promoting intercultural enrichment through exchange.

 Among the pivotal goals of the IRCs for the upcoming years, the following ones are to be underlined:

  • Looking beyond Europe
  • Internationalisation of curricula
  • Crisis management
  • Well-being of international students
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • New Erasmus+ programme
  • Internationalisation at home
  • Digital tools for distance learning and blended mobility
  • Digitisation of Erasmus+ procedures
  • Social, environmental, financial and administrative sustainability of internationalisation
  • International working opportunities for students and alumni.

The video produced by the IRCs Working Group should be also considered as an integral part of the  IRCs’ Manifesto 2020. The interviews gathered during the IRCs annual meeting in Prague in  2019 and during the Covid-19 pandemic shed the light on a range of new issues to consider for the future, such as the increasing use of digital tools in music education, the need for interdisciplinarity and a bigger focus on students, the need to look to education and job markets beyond Europe and in particular in the Far East, as well as environmental concerns and the crisis management. 

Covid-Crisis, Digitisation and the new challenges of the IRCs

The coronavirus pandemic has affected not only the economy and our daily lifestyle, but also the mental health of individuals, which depends considerably on the various illnesses, deaths, employment opportunities, but also the sense of purpose, independence or identity. Consequently, the issues of depression, social anxiety and self-esteem concerns arise in the new epoch of the crisis, making it necessary for the IRCs to coordinate a specific approach for supporting the mental health of the international students. Therefore, new skills are suddenly required by the IRCs in order to face these new unforeseen challenges, which include also the readiness to re-think and re-organize the work of international offices, the efficiency of online lecture and the practical issues related to the management of emergencies and impossibility to travel freely between countries.

Digital communication has become vital for the IRCs since the Covid-19 crisis began to spread around the world at a fast speed. Thus, online meetings have been replacing the physical ones during the last months and will probably become the normal way of dealing with international partners in the coming months. Owing to the global epidemic, the next annual meeting for the IRCs will take place in a hybrid form for the first time, hence it will combine both face-to-face communication in Vigo (Spain) and online seminars in order to provide the stage for discussions for participants both physically present and connected remotely. The IRCs Working Group is ready and enthusiastic to face this challenge in order to bring this meeting to a higher level of interaction and outreach.

Annual Meeting for IRCs 2020 in Vigo (Spain)

The Annual Meeting for International Relations Coordinators 2020 will take place both online and in presence at the Conservatorio Superior de Música de Vigo, Spain, from 24 to 26 September 2020. The main theme of the event will be the sustainability of internationalisation and mobility, an umbrella topic which will let ample space to the discussion on the Covid crisis that had a huge impact on the professional and personal lives of the IRCs. We will see how the pandemic is significantly affecting mobility schemes, international relations and the well-being of international students. Two seminars will be devoted to an in-depth discussion on these issues. Finally, the environmental issues will be addressed as they are becoming more and more concerning both for our daily lives and the mobility actions.

Issues related to the use of digital tools, the inclusiveness and the environmental crisis will be also discussed during the meeting in Vigo. The following questions are arising in the era full of uncertainties and urgent issues, and they have to be responded critically:

  • What would be the impact of the increasing use of digital tools and the lack of face-to-face communication on the international relations?
  • Does the internationalisation of higher music education affect negatively our environment? What could be done in order to mitigate the negative consequences of internationalisation and various mobility schemes on environment? In which way could we contribute in building a sustainable world
  • Does the “Erasmus Goes Digital” and the use of digital technologies in higher music education could promote the inclusiveness, given the fact that they help to overcome financial barriers and to provide an access to high quality education to all students whatever the financial situation and mobility opportunities they have?
  • What are the possible ways of making the music more accessible for disadvantaged groups of population, such as minorities or refugees?

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