January has sped by, but as it is my first update of the year, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year! For our Chinese friends, also let me say Xin nian kuai le!
As you may all know, 2017 is the year of the Rooster and people born under this sign are known for their hard work, resourcefulness and talent. I wanted to take this opportunity to send my best wishes to all our students from the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CCSA) who embodied these traits as they ushered in the New Year with a bright and energetic celebration of Chinese culture at the Chinese New Year Gala on 1st February. I hope everyone had a fantastic evening!
Welcoming our Latest Global Talent
A tradition for us in January is to welcome our newest international students – many of whom attended the International Welcome Reception on the 25th January. It was great to personally meet so many of BU’s future Global Talent.
The Global Festival of Learning – Taking Fusion Global
We are very excited to be again exporting our home-grown Festival of Learning this year – in three overseas locations during March (ASEAN), April (India), and May (China), as well as a dedicated global day in the UK in July. For us, the global Festival of Learning is more than just a series of events – it is a key example of how BU is working differently and co-creating impact with communities across the globe.
From Great Britain to Global Britain
The eagerly anticipated speech from Prime Minister Theresa May earlier in January gave us hints at the direction Brexit negotiations will take, which has now been followed by the Government’s Brexit White Paper, The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union. It was good to hear the PM’s vision for a ‘truly Global Britain’ which intends to be ‘more outward-looking than ever before’. The UK’s ambition to reach ‘beyond the borders’ and ‘build relationships with old friends and new allies alike’ is exactly what we are all about at Global BU. I was reassured to see Government recognise the ‘important contribution made by students and academics’ to our universities.
Equally, we want to be as involved here at home, and were happy to join colleagues to discuss the challenge of employability in London at Policy-UK’s Making Every Graduate Employable-Identifying Skills Gaps, Collaboration with Industry and Reviewing Destination Data Collection. It was interesting to hear about graduate identity rather than graduate attributes, and calls for our institutional career services to be ‘agents for change’. We do need to be innovative in our approaches to embedding employability into our future programmes, and HEPI’s new publication on the role of digital technologies in teaching and learning does provide a really insightful commentary on this.
This is of course timely given the recent application for Year Two of the TEF has seen a total of 299 HE providers participating, with 222 from England (including BU). Many of our HE colleagues in Scotland and all of those in Northern Ireland have opted out, so questions will inevitably be asked about TEF’s ability in reflecting excellence across the sector.
Additionally, the recent call for evidence on Lord Stern’s review of the REF is taking place with a March deadline for submission, and as always I encourage involvement in BU’s consultation process. For those who might be interested, do take a look at our recent contribution to the written evidence on the impact of Brexit on HE – here.
Onwards and Outwards
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the potential impact of HE extends well beyond any individual, political or geographical barriers. In my recent blog for the Association of Commonwealth Universities, I describe how sectorally, I believe we need to move away from the transactional model of internationalisation towards a transformational one – which I think in part relies on different models of collaborative working. This is exactly what we are trying to embody through our Hubs of Practice, each of which are central to driving the engagement and impact we want to generate during our overseas Festival of Learning this year.
So, to end – let me just wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.