What have the benefits been for you since joining IAUP? Barham: It means a lot of new knowledge that is happening in the world. A lot of new thoughts about cultural development affairs, and relations with higher educational leaders or presidents of very well known universities. So it has been a very good experience to learn more and to be a better president. This kind of international organization has some political goals like reaching peace and development through education. This of course, represents a good way to make this desire of internationalization real. I think one of the main interests to join is you can have some kind of way to concrete your social responsibility for the world and open opportunities for your instituition.
When you look around the world does IAUP's motto "Peace, Welfare and Security through Education" seem more difficult to attain?
Barham: You can only make changes through education and sharing values or progress and peace so that's the chain of education. Peace and process. IAUP is a form of ideas and relations between all universities that represent the force of a higher education system throughout the world. If we are one thousand or two thousand universities in the world we can become a voice to political leaders, international organizations, United Nations, the World Bank, and Ministers of Education.
Today we are all the same. Today we have problems in the states. Subprime mortgages. The banks are broke. And we have this problem all over the world. We are all happy about the election Of Obama. We see this man as a hope and change of mind. And that in someway represents that we are all in the same boat. Right now it's important who the President of the United States is. And who the President of China is too and what's happening in the political process of China.
How is the connection between IAUP and China?
Barham: China is more open today to world relations. We have the South Asian council. We had an executive committee meeting two years ago in Kunming China, and we learned a lot about the Chinese University System. We know they have ten percent as exchange students and they want to raise that number to twenty percent or more which means a lot more students. If you think China has grown ten percent per year even though there is a recession.....that's around 1 billion people. This represents the world no doubt about that.
A lot of people in China are interested in learning Spanish. Its very important to us here in Latin America to recognize this developing world and to see our opportunities for over there. And I think this is the basis of all that is education and what we are doing. We need to educate our people somehow with this view, not only our university students but middle school students and our population in general.
These kind of international organizations that have some political goals like to reach peace and development through education. They of course, represent a good way to make this desire of internationalization real.
What about Africa and IAUP?
Barham: We have a big interest in African universities and are working on projects as we speak. The last thing we did was this commission of a working group for improving connectivity and technology with African universities. It was a program led by universities in Denmark and Africa. We have a lot of interest in helping to improve the quality of education in Africa. Today we are trying to rebuild those links with a university in Angola. To make more meaningful relationships with Africa we need money and one of our goals in this three year period as president of IAUP is to see if there are any private or public foundations that can help to raise new profits to help in the development of Africa.
And helping the United Nations in the "Academic Impact" program. This seeks to teach the African students in the world that we are asking for help from our members to sponsor two African universities by paying their membership fee for them through IAUP. Africa is a way of making concrete programs for IAUP from the point of view in development. Since IAUP is globalized, Latin American universities or any other have a way to touch such international issues. This is extremely valuable in this day and age.