A year in the life of Global BU

My final update for the academic year always seems to prompt in me a wider reflection on the past year – and what a year it has been!   

At BU we are coming to the end of the second full year of delivering the Global Engagement Plan; delivery of which has been against a backdrop of considerable change for the UK HE sector, Two of the most significant developments have of course been:

  • Introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework – considered to be the most significant HE sector legislation in the past 25 years for the UK but Hobsons recent research examining international students’ awareness and understanding of TEF ratings found that 64.4% of international students who have heard of the TEF say it has not been very well explained to them. As I commented in a recent article in The PIE News, the UK Government must do more to improve the communications strategy around this framework so it doesn’t confuse international students when deciding to study in the UK or elsewhere.
  • Brexit – negotiations commenced in Brussels in June but uncertainty will continue for a while and the impact on the future of our international academic staff remain unknown despite assurances that EU nationals who are already in the UK will be given an opportunity to stay in the UK. This continuing uncertainty has also potentially impacted on the international student body in the UK: whilst the HE sector saw a 2% rise in international applicants, we also saw a 5% fall in applicants from the EU according to the latest UCAS data.

Whilst globally the past year has been dominated by a geopolitical context focused on borders and boundaries, in contrast, Global BU, founded on comprehensive internationalisation, is about transcending these physical and geographical barriers and keeping its focus on shaping confident global futures.

So, what have been some of the key highlights of the last year for me?  

  • the Global Festival of Learning – over three months, we held three week-long Global Festivals of Learning in ASEAN (March), India (April) and then finally China in May. Over the course of these three events, more than 2,000 participants were involved across four countries and seven cities. For more information, do check out our storifies: ASEAN, India, and Our global festivals are an innovative model for recruitment and relational building with our most valued current and future partners around the world.
  • Over 600 students enrolled on the Global Talent Programme and the successful graduates of the programme collected their certificates from the Vice-Chancellor in June. Highlights of the event can be found This programme is a sector leading example of an extra-curricular approach toward enhanced employment outcomes for both our home and international students.
  • BU’s success in collaboration with the China Innovation Hub in securing a second contract for the Chinese Campus Football Coach Training Programme this summer. A testament to the reach and sustainability of our vision for Hubs of Practice.
  • BU Global Challenges Summit’ – our first large-scale pilot of a virtual mobility initiative. The three-day summit had the theme Diversity in Contemporary Society and aimed to inspire students to work on three UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a day each fully dedicated to: poverty, cross cultural working; reducing inequalities; and health and wellbeing. The event attracted more than 100 students and 7 of our partners and employers across the three days. Find out more on our
  • It was great to conclude the year with a bang during the on-campus ‘Global Day’ which brought to a close this year’s Festival of Learning. We were honoured to be joined by Phil Baty from Times Higher Education for the event.

All there is left for me to say then is have a great summer and as ever real thanks to the individuals and teams, staff and students, who contribute to making BU Global.  We may be one of the smallest areas within the University but it is in how we directly work with staff and students that we have an enviable resource base of ambassadors and champions. You all enable a small team to be much greater than the sum of its parts and in so doing make us distinctive in the marketplace. Thank you.

So, whilst I’ve reflected above on the many highlights throughout the year, there is one that captures it all for me and that I’d like to leave you with. This is a tweet from one of our students attending the Global Festival of Learning in China:

This was my moment of the year!

Thanks again everyone, have a great summer, and I look forward to your Global BU creating many more transformational moments for our staff,students and partners in 2017/18.


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