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International (higher) education and research is changing at an unprecedented pace and intrinsically linked to international relations. New modalities of staff- and student mobility connect with public-private partnerships and research, between countries and across continents. It is necessary that contemporary diplomacy moves in tandem with these developments. Intersecting with the academic dynamic is the multitude of non-governmental actors, societal issues and geo-political trends. With this panel, we seek to develop an understanding of the international dimension of higher education institutions in Africa, and how the challenges they face in this regard can be addressed. The main focus of the panel will be how higher education institutions can maximize their potential for international engagement. Underlying themes are the current state of affairs in higher education systems, science and innovation systems and the position of universities within Africa as well as continental and regional agencies and their knowledge policies. There will also be attention for so-called knowledge diplomacy and transnational networks, and it will deal with the attempts by European funding agencies for higher education and research to change from ‘capacity development’ to ‘co-creation’