I am absolutely thrilled to be writing this from Malaysia, as we end what has been a fantastic week-long series of activities in Jakarta, Indonesia and then Penang, Malaysia at our Global Festival of Learning ASEAN. This has been the second Festival of Learning in ASEAN – and it has even managed to surpass the success of the first. I was delighted to learn that #GlobalFoL17 was trending at number 2 in the UK at points this week!!
We were extremely honoured to host two fantastic keynote speakers in both Indonesia and Malaysia. In Indonesia, we were joined by the previous Vice-Minister of Education and Culture for Cultural Affairs for the Government of Indonesia, whose academic and career journey defines global talent. In Malaysia, YBhg. Dato’Dr. Morshidi Sirat, whose expertise and experience in HE policy has led him to serve in the Department of HE in Malaysia and act as a consultant for the UNESCO and World Bank. He gave an informative talk on the need for a north-south connection and understanding amidst an increasingly divisive world. The Festival is our small attempt at helping to create that connection and understanding between different parts of the world.
These days as PVC, I don’t get the chance to interact with our students as much as I would like. It is for this reason why I particularly enjoy the Festival because it is an opportunity for me to spend some quality time with our students and staff, who are working on so many exciting, impactful, innovative projects and research in the ASEAN region. What really stood out for me was the immense inspiration, excitement and spirit that this sharing can create.
Let me take this opportunity as ever to thank all those staff and students from both BU and our partners in Malaysia and Indonesia who put on such a fantastic week. I’m really proud of what we have collectively achieved this week but it is of course all about what happens next and in the longer term. As I have always said, the Festival is not an end in itself but a catalyst for developing meaningful collaborations that extend beyond the Festival and long into the future.
Just as one Festival comes to an end, we gear up to the next – the global Festival of Learning India kicks off on the 18th April. The programme is now live here.
The Benefits of Being Abroad
As if we needed any more validation of the importance of a mobility experience to our students, another recent report, Gone International: Mobility Works, revealed that students with mobility experience were less likely to be unemployed (3.7% compared to 4.9%), more likely to be in a graduate level job (76.4% compared to 69.9%), earn 5% more than their non-mobile peers, and are four times more likely than non-mobile students to work outside the UK.
It is of course not all about our staff and students travelling overseas, but a mutual exchange of ideas, people, talent…The recent report The Economic Impact of International Students presents 2014-15 figures on the economic contribution by international students studying in the UK. International students make up 19% of the UK student population, and as such, generate some ‘£25.8 billion in gross output for the UK economy’.
Although, the sector is clear on the value of mobility to our graduates chances of career success, unfortunately we continue to hear from employers that ‘graduates aren’t skilled enough‘. The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) spoke to 174 organisations about the quality of candidates straight out of university and this revealed that people skills and a “fundamental understanding” of the world of work are often lacking. This is too what we are hearing from employers in the region.
Working closely with businesses and organisations to help better understand the challenges they are experiencing around the skills agenda is a key characteristic of how the Global Talent Programme (GTP) has been developed. I was delighted that we were able to support and take part in a recent event run by Hays Recruitment which looked specifically at the digital skills required in marketing professions. Hays is the world’s largest recruitment firm and they are a great example of how the GTP is informed by industry. The event was a super opportunity to hear from businesses about the challenges they face and to also speak about how BU is working collaboratively to addresses those challenges.
Set against this backdrop, it was therefore even more thrilling to hear how top ten Guardian UK 300 companies are choosing BU graduates. As the article revealed, more than 225 Bournemouth University graduates are currently working in all the publicly listed top ten UK companies, as detailed in the Guardian’s 2017 UK 300 survey. Well done to these students. It is my hope through the Global Talent Programme and all the work we are doing at BU to embed employability across the curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular that more and more students will secure the career they want.
Shaping Our Sector for the Next Generation
Some key announcements have taken place this month which will undoubtedly affect the direction of the sector for years to come. Most importantly, Prime Minister May has finally triggered Article 50; the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s last Spring Budget was unveiled, which also was the last Budget prior to the commencement of Brexit; and of course, ongoing announcements related to the HE & Research Bill. The latter, has now reached its third reading in the House of Lords, with the debates raging on. Some of the notable defeats we have seen over the past several weeks included the break between TEF ratings and tuition fees, the doubt surrounding the TEF award system, and the move to support international staff and students in the UK.
As one of the universities fortunate enough to be successful in HEFCE‘s recent Catalyst Fund, my team are looking forward to meeting our peers on Tuesday in Birmingham to discuss our respective projects. Despite the uncertainties within the policy environment, it is through this type of work that we are making our own contribution on the ground to shaping the future positively for the next generation.