Global Fusion Going Live!

Festival Season Begins!


Our UK-based Festival of Learning is now in its fifth year, and so I’m delighted that this year we are taking the Festival global again – in three locations over the next three months – ASEAN (March), India (April) and China (May). I am very excited to be able today to officially kick off this Global BU’s Festival season,  with the ASEAN programme now live.


The ASEAN Festival kicks off in Indonesia and has a range of fascinating events and activities planned, ranging from smart tourism to exploring the role of journalism in society.  We then move onto Malaysia for the second half of the Festival where we are looking forward to some stimulating discussions on talent and skills within the health and tourism sectors.


Whilst I have no doubt that each of the Festivals in the coming months will be fantastic, interesting and stimulating events, it is critical for me that the impact of each Festival lives on long after we have landed back in the UK….


The Festival is about working closely with valued partners to co-create impact across the globe. Each Festival for me is an expression of how Global BU is working differently with our overseas partners, regions and communities. Importantly, our Festivals are also about showing the world that BU and the UK are, and will continue to be, part of a Global Britain.


BU Down Under


I had the privilege last month to attend the Higher Education Academy and Ranmore’s collaborative programme in Australia. It was a great opportunity to recognise the growth and scale of the Australian HE sector, and the impressive steps they are taking over there.  With a relatively small-sized HE sector – a humble 43 HEIs – Australia attracts some 1.31 million students which is half of what the UK attracts with only a quarter of the institutions! To read more about the trip, see my blog here


Global Talent Programme


Meanwhile, back home, we continue to build global connectivity through our Global Talent Programme (GTP).  In its first year, we have over 500 students signed up to become Global Talent by investing their own time to be a part of the GTP. We know that students recognise public engagement as a vital means in increasing their employability, recognising the value they gain through increased confidence and enhanced communication skills.   We were thrilled to visit the Vitality Stadium at the end of February (AFC Bournemouth’s home for those not in the know) to hear from special guest Steve Cuss, the Head of Community for AFCB’s Community Sports Trust.  It was great to hear our students talk about the importance of inclusivity, empathy, compassion and commitment when developing cultural awareness and cross-cultural understanding. I am very grateful to Steve and the team at AFCB for hosting the event and is a great illustration of how our partnership with them works so well.


British Council visits BU


I was delighted to welcome Professor Rebecca Hughes, Head of Education at the British Council, as Guest Lecturer for our Global BUzz event on Monday 6th March.  Rebecca spoke on the subject of ‘New Generation Approaches to International Education and Engagement’ and highlighted the importance of student mobility. It is always rewarding to see our students apply the experience and skills they gain from travel to their studies and it is encouraging to see that this is something that the British Council is continuing to champion.  While those who have participated in mobility opportunities abroad can vouch for the benefits and insights it has given them, UUK International has only recently released a new report demonstrating that mobility impacts positively on academic attainment and employment outcomes.


Our Changing World


As the Brexit Withdrawal Bill is heading for a ‘ping pong’ between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, despite amendments announced by Minister Jo Johnson, Prime Minister Theresa May has assured the French people that we will stand shoulder to shoulder as Global Britain continues to look outward.  Even the Brexit Secretary David Davis recently acknowledged that the UK will not ‘shut the door’ on EU workers any time soon.


The UK continues to rank incredibly well in both the World’s Most International Universities by Times Higher Education as well as its Best University Cities of 2017 Rankings, where London secured first position.  The UK also ranked well in the QS Best Student Cities Rankings, demonstrating that regardless of indicators used, we still do very well.


Putting rankings aside for a moment, our universities are made great by supporting our researchers and scientists from all over the world. In fact, UNESCO’s recent Science Report, revealed that it is the rise of international students that is increasing global collaborations and research by driving the mobility of scientists.


Still Welcome    


I’m sure there are plenty of young, talented individuals abroad questioning whether the UK is the place for them and I do hope they will look past recent media coverage when making their decisions. This month, I published an article in which I recall my own journey through UK HE – although I came to the UK some 15 years ago now, I personally feel that I am very much Still Welcome, and I hope that our future Global Talent will see the UK in this light too, now, and long into the future.  

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