Strategies beyond borders


Hochschulforum Digitalisierung (HFD) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) are inviting proposals for contributions to the “Strategies Beyond Borders – Transforming Higher Education in a Digital Age” conference taking place in Berlin from 9 to 10 December 2019.

Higher Education Institutions need strategies for teaching and learning in a digital age. In Germany, HFD and DAAD support academic institutions in their strategic development through a variety of programs. The transformation of higher education in a digital age appears to be a strategic opportunity for more collaboration on both a national and international level, stronger networks and a real shift from teaching to learning, putting the individual learner in focus.

According to recent studies such as the EUA Trends study (Gaebel & Zhang, 2018) and a report on “Research, Innovation and Technological Performance in Germany” EFI, 2019, digitalisation is taking on an ever greater strategic role at higher education institutions. However, major challenges remain in the strategic development of teaching and administration along the entire student journey. Initiatives such as Bologna Digital have recently sketched out potential approaches towards new visions for higher education in the digital age. 

In order to discuss innovative and transferable strategic approaches on different levels and especially across and beyond borders, HFD and DAAD jointly host an international conference with a focus on strategies for teaching and learning and (international) cooperation in the digital age. The conference will offer a variety of contents and formats which aim at providing new insights and orientation to higher education institutions and other stakeholders on strategies for transforming higher education in a digital age.

You are cordially invited to submit a proposal for a contribution to one of six topic clusters: Governance, Policy & Strategies; Networks & Collaboration; Infrastructure & Interoperability; Innovation in Teaching & Learning; as well as Skills & Curricula and Student Experience. Regardless of the topic cluster selected, the contribution must have strategic relevance for one or, ideally, several higher education institutions.

The possible formats include presentations (30 Min); live-demos of educational technologies and scenarios (30 Min), workshops (90 Min) and poster sessions. There will also be an option to propose barcamp sessions during the conference.

The deadline for submission of a proposal is 15 September 2019. Please submit your applications via the form at

Topic Clusters

1) Governance, Policy & Strategies

Digitalisation is a major strategic task for higher education institutions and higher education policy. Suitable strategic approaches are therefore needed at institutional, regional, national and european level. Higher education institutions must revise existing strategies, develop new ones and tackle comprehensive change processes. including all status groups and defining new ways of strategic cooperation is of particular importance in this context. Contributions to this cluster should focus on overarching higher education strategies and identify transferable approaches that provide new impetus for innovative strategies and structures.

2) Networks & Collaboration

The strategic further development of HEIs is generally increasingly characterised by networks and new forms of collaboration between institutions. The digital transformation of higher education is at the same time creating new opportunities and more innovative approaches to collaborate, often also in virtual environments. Contributions to this cluster should focus on novel and strategically relevant forms of collaboration between institutions or introduce networks in which digitisation plays a major role.

3) Infrastructure & Interoperability 

One particular field of action for shaping digital transformation is the existence of a modern technical infrastructure: Beyond comprehensive broadband connections and well-functioning Wifi equipment, the availability of modern hardware and software solutions is crucial for innovative teaching and learning. At the same time, infrastructures can increasingly be set up based on open standards and in partnerships of different stakeholders. The interoperability of digital solutions needs to be another focus of attention. Contributions to this cluster should identify strategically relevant infrastructure measures or transferable approaches and standards to enhance the openness and interoperability of digital solutions.

4) Innovation in Teaching & Learning

The digital transformation of higher education particularly means the promotion of innovative teaching and learning scenarios at higher education institutions. This requires clear strategic measures to support innovation and value the work of academic teachers. This includes aspects such as personnel development, incentive systems, appropriate communication that promotes innovation, but also an overarching innovation culture at universities. Contributions to this cluster should show how higher education institutions have strategically strengthened innovation in teaching and learning and/or show cross-university approaches to strengthening innovation and digitalisation in teaching and learning.

5) Skills & Curricula

Students attending higher education expect to acquire skills and knowledge that will empower them through personal and professional development to succeed in their future life. The strategic (further) development of higher education thus is always connected to the development of skills that students (and staff) need for the digital age. In particular, this means imparting appropriate cross-sectional and subject-specific skills. The implementation of future (digital) skills is therefore basically a question of new and innovative approaches towards curriculum development. HEIs and professors must be supported in this by their respective institutions in a sustainable manner. Contributions to this cluster should focus on such new approaches to curriculum development and skills for the digital age.

6) Student Perspectives

Students are the central target group of higher education institutions. Nevertheless, they are often still too little involved in strategic processes and rarely valued as changemakers and crucial experts. 

The #DigitaleChangemaker initiative of HFD has shown how valuable student contributions can be in the context of the digital transformation of higher education. Contributions to this cluster should accordingly focus on the perspective of students, either through student contributions or through the presentation of innovative and transferable approaches to student participation as digital changemakers at universities.

Formal Requirements

Please submit an abstract of max. 500 words (2 pages) through our online form. The abstract should clearly describe the topic and its strategic relevance for higher education institutions and leadership. The preferred language of your contribution is English, you may, however, also submit proposals in German. Contributions that include partners from different institutions and across borders are especially welcomed.


Please submit your proposal (including abstract and appendix) at

All accepted proposals will be published in a book of abstracts.