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Director Internationalisation., Rhodes University

Orla Quinlan is the Director of Internationalisation at Rhodes University (2011 to date).

She is currently on the Executive Committee and served as President of the International Education Association of South Africa, IEASA (2019-2020), and represented IEASA in the global “Network of International Education Associations”.

She has served IEASA in a variety of leadership roles including as Chair of Council; Chair of the IEASA Conference Committee; Chair of the Publications Committee and Editor of the 17th and 18th editions of IEASA’s annual publication, Study SA. She led on IEASA’s Internationalisation of Curriculum (IoC) portfolio facilitating workshops with academic leaders in public universities (2014-2016). She has collaborated with DHA, to resolve immigration issues, pertaining to students coming into South Africa.

Her interests include leadership, governance, policy, organisational development, capacity-building, internationalisation, education, social justice, gender, diversity, and inclusion. She has presented papers, run workshops, and participated in panel discussions, on topics including the future of internationalisation; internationalisation at home; immigration; the Policy Framework on internationalisation of Higher education in South Africa; the future of intercultural competency; the impact of COVID on mental health in higher education; managing a university in an age of disruption and Women in leadership.

In 2020 and 2021, she presented at international conferences and facilitated online events with IEASA; the African Network of International Education; the Southern Africa and Nordic Centre; the American International Education Association; NAFSA-Association of International Educators; the European Association of International Education; the International Association of Universities; FAUBAI -the Brazilian Association for International Education and the Latin American and Caribbean Higher Education Conference.


Holding different positions in Oxfam GB between 1998-2010, Ms Quinlan supported programmes in Latin America, Africa, and global humanitarian programmes, before joining their senior management team. She led Oxfam GB’s global programme funding providing strategic leadership in programme development to a multi-cultural team, located across 70 countries.

Located at University of the Western Cape from 1996, she worked on a range of social justice and change issues with South African NGOs, government task teams and community-based organisations. Her activities included serving as a Board member and Treasurer, with the Gender Advocacy Programme and serving on the first Harold Wolpe Memorial Conference Committee. Ms Quinlan was a senior researcher for the Gender Equity Task Team (GETT) responsible for the first systematic study on gender and education for the Department of Education, South Africa in 1996/7.

Ms Quinlan has held a variety of leadership positions in her multi-faceted career, which began as an educator in Ireland, and has directed education and humanitarian programmes with CONCERN (1988- 1995) in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Burundi, and Haiti.

Orla Quinlan, Sue Davidoff (2005) Valuing Teachers through Appraisal, University of Western Cape Teacher Inservice Project. Via Afrika, Cape town;

Orla Quinlan (2000) Challenging Prejudice in ourselves and others: towards an equitable South African society: a teacher’s guide for engaging youth in the classroom. Via Arfika, Cape town.

AnnMarie Wolpe; Orla Quinlan; Lyn Martinez (1997) Gender equity in education; A Report by the Gender Equity Task Team. Dept of Education, Pretoria.

Samia Chasi and Orla Quinlan (2020) Inclusion in times of COVID-19 The Case of International Students in South Africa, Volume 9, No 1 (2021) Journal of Student Affairs in Africa.

Ms Quinlan also reviews International Education Journal articles.


  • 2017–2021
    Executive Leader, IEASA
  • 2011–2021
    Director, Internationalisation


  • 1992 
    London School of Economics and Political Science, MSc in Social policy, planning and implementation in developing countries
  • 1985 
    Carysfort College, National University of Ireland., B Ed