Metropolitan College in the spotlight of Internationalisation of higher education

Metropolitan College, Greece’s leading private higher education services provider and the largest UK Transnational Education provider in Greece, committed to its strategy for internationalisation, successfully organized the online panel discussion entitled “Internationalisation of Higher Education: The Greek paradigm”.

The online conversation, following the impact the pandemic had on education and the current need for more flexible ways of education, hosted a panel of prestigious, world-class keynote speakers from international educational organizations, partner universities, the Greek government and foreign Embassies.
Metropolitan College’s strategic vision is to provide an unsurpassed, student-centered learning experience led by engaged, world-class faculty, enhanced by a diverse student body in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

To this end, and pursuing its strategy for internationalization, Metropolitan College is expanding its horizons into Europe and the US through collaboration with educational institutions and research bodies so that a global academic universe is created. This vision is aligned with Greek Ministry of Education activations to highlight Greece’s natural resources and culture and cultivate the image of a centre of education across the world.

Dr George Voutsinos, Secretary General for Lifelong Learning of the Greek Ministry of Education, welcomed the guests. In his opening remark he mentioned:
“The Greek government has created a new legal framework which focuses on internationalisation and constitutes the official bridge between Greek and international academic communities by facilitating the creation of academic networks as well as by fostering synergies between Greek and foreign universities. I welcome the initiative of Metropolitan College which is in line with the government policy as our goal is for Greece to become a strong international regional education and training center. No doubt, the Greek private colleges have been serving the business with outstanding results as per the evidence available”.

Coordinated by the journalist Maria Nikoltsiou, the following distinguished speakers shared their expertise and know-how on international education. Here are some of their most significant statements:

Ms Clare Overmann, Head of Higher Education Initiatives at the Institute of International Education (ΙΙΕ)

“The transition to virtual was one of the biggest changes and perhaps challenges that we faced as a sector, but also probably one of the biggest opportunities as well. From the US perspective, almost every institution had to go to either a completely virtual or a hybrid model. […] This really is a very pivotal moment for Greece in terms of a destination for students and, actually, right now IIE is working together with the Greek Ministry of Education and the US Embassy on a partnership development program between US institutions and Greek us institutions that will provide students more opportunities for mobility and research”.

Ms Cynthia Harvey, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy to Greece

“I have been deeply impressed by what I observed in Greece in the past several months. Universities showed that they can be versatile and adaptive. At the American Embassy we are looking to create more opportunities for American students interested in studying in Greece, and, while you can’t replace the on-campus kind of traditional student experience that you get when you are studying abroad, I think that we have seen that they can really elevate the amount of student services through virtual and blended learning opportunities. Greece is more and more becoming a destination of choice for American study abroad students moving beyond the classics and the humanities to contemporary issues around refugees, agricultural issues and the broader geopolitical issues here in the eastern Mediterranean region”.

Mr Kevin Perkins, Vice President Global Operations at the University of Arizona

“At the University of Arizona, we managed to expand our online offerings that traditionally were focused on the domestic market through the creation of a network of locations around the world where international students could go and receive the University of Arizona education. We have actually developed an international student success team who speak about 12 different languages for those students who may not be able to come here either due to pandemic reasons or financial reasons. These are some more of the soft tools that we have developed internally to make sure that we are being responsive to new online learner”.

Professor Brent White, Vice provost for Global Affairs and Dean of Global Locations at the University of Arizona

“I would like to say how excited we are about the partnership with Metropolitan College and how excited we are to have multiple locations in Greece through this partnership which will enable students to earn a University of Arizona degree at any of the locations while receiving on-campus support and the ability to take advantage of Metropolitan’s campuses throughout Greece”.
Watch the discussion’s highlights in this video:

Mr Elias Spirtounias, Executive Director at American – Hellenic Chamber of Commerce

‘There are plenty of opportunities for Greece to become a well acclaimed educational hub in the east med region, especially if public and private institutions work together in putting down a long-term and consistent strategy for exploiting these opportunities. In addition, the state needs to resolve possible visa issues and perhaps provide some incentives for housing infrastructure attracting international students to achieve a major economic impact”.

Ms Vivienne Stern, Director, Universities UK International

“I think that it has been a tribute to the extraordinary hard work of university staff in a wide range of roles that they have thought creatively about how to tackle all of those very many diverse problems. One of the conversations that is happening in many organizations not just universities is what is special about face-to-face because as we move back into a world in which it is possible to deliver things online, but you have also got the option of bringing people together physically in one place; I expect that is going to be quite important as we work out what the blended new normal is and I think there will be an emphasis on making the most of those face-to-face opportunities”.

Mr Eduardo Ramos, Head of Transnational Education at Universities UK International

“Greece is the top UK partner in Europe with over 20,000 students and it’s the sixth partner worldwide in TNE numbers and it is increasing rapidly. Situated at the crossroads of three continents, it has always been a place of sharing ideas and addressing challenges in new areas of expertise from fintech to robotics and maritime technology. Greece, in partnership with UK universities which have the cutting-edge research and teaching, can respond to this demand and Metropolitan College is a showcase. […] As a sector we had to work hard to support students in multiple ways”

Ms Maria Tsakali, Head of Education at British Council Greece

“It was extremely important to see that UK institutions and the entire mechanism in the UK provided a wide range of information sources so as to enable students to familiarize with the changes and be able to support them throughout the challenging process that we have faced. Greece has all the natural characteristics to actually position itself more dynamically in the sphere of attracting international students, pairing the unique Mediterranean lifestyle with top quality educators, thus creating a welcoming environment. It is also more strategic than it has been before to make that internationalization happen, reinforcing the already existing collaborations with UK institutions in the post-Brexit era”.

Dr Vangelis Tsiligkiris, Founder and co- governor of the TNE Hub

“I think overall the response by the academics, the students and administrators was great all over the world and the quality and experience has been maintained. I think there is the need for a stronger link between academic programs and experiential learning so learning by doing and the connection between academia and the market and businesses. There’s a great opportunity for higher education institutions to play a role in the rebound of the economy by designing courses and programs that can help the economy recover”.

His Excellency Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation to Greece, Mr Olaf Kjelsen

“I remember with pleasure the inauguration ceremony of the cooperation between Metropolitan College and Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne on the 11th of June 2019 in offering top quality programmes in the areas of tourism management and hospitality. I would like to express my satisfaction at the fact that Greece is now opening up its higher education sector to foreign students – one first perfect example is in the field of archaeology. Greece is undergoing a process of digitalization which has been accelerated during the pandemic and it should help boost the economy, simplify our lives and contribute to establishing contacts and cooperations”.

Professor Dinos Arcoumanis, Chairman of the Academic Board at Metropolitan College

“Greece is becoming a top international educational hub. I would argue that the prospects are unlimited when the educational benefits based on the high scientific, technological and cultural level of the graduates from Greek universities join forces with unique weather conditions, a relatively cheap cost of living and friendly social atmosphere to create a very attractive teaching and research environment for people from abroad and those in the Mediterranean area. I also hope that the brain drain which Greece has experienced may start seeing a reverse trend with top Greek academics from abroad returning to Greece”.

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