International Commencement Ceremony 2017
It has now become an annual feature in the University calendar – our International Commencement Ceremony (ICC) – and each year it never fails to inspire me. It was great to hear one of our keynotes, Lord Bilimoria say, “I don’t know of any other university that holds an event and welcome like this, and it’s incredible.” Lord Bilimoria, who is President of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, added: “The friends that they will make over here will be their friends for the rest of their lives and what is really important, and is often overlooked, is that the international students enrich the experience of our own domestic students, which is just wonderful.”
I of course couldn’t agree more, which is why it continues to be of concern to me that although there are unlikely to be any significant changes for students until March 2019, it is still unclear what Brexit might mean for students from the EU, UK and internationally. Whilst concerns about tuition fees, visas to study, travel and work, and research funding remain, at BU we value the contribution that our overseas students make to our BU community. The ICC is a very important part of this welcome that we give to our international students, not only to BU, but to Dorset and the UK. To see more of the highlights from the evening, see our Storify.
Global Talent Programme – Be Part of the Class of 2017
With over 720 BU students already registered on the BU Global Talent Programme (GTP), I am looking forward to opening registrations for this academic year during ‘Your Career Week’ (taking place between the 17th and the 20th of October). ‘Your Career Week’ is new for this academic year and brings together the Careers Fair, the ‘BU Be Global’ student mobility festival and the launch of the 2017 Global Talent Programme, to help give a greater focus to the range of excellent initiatives that are helping to give BU graduates – both UK and non-UK – a competitive edge in the global jobs market. The week-long event will include talks and workshops from regional, national and global employers as well a chance for students to find out more about opportunities to study and work abroad during their time at BU.
The employability of our students is always a hot topic in HE so it is good to see that three UK universities are among the top 20 in the world for graduate employability, according to a ranking by higher education think-tank, QS (2018). Across the UK HE sector though, we must continue to ensure that our students and graduates are equipped with the attributes they need to compete in a highly competitive global employment market.
The Value of International Students – the Debate Continues
Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, in his speech at Universities UK Annual Conference on 7th September, made no mention of internationalisation/global HE apart from the recent Department for Education announcement requesting from the Migration Advisory Committee to undertake a review of the economic impact of international students.
As ever, the value and contribution of international students to our economies and communities is tied-in with the debate over migration rules. In August, we saw the publication of CPC-ONS-UUK Survey of Graduating International students 2017, which found that (1) many individuals do not migrate or study and leave afterwards; their lives are more complex – some people arrive on a work visa and legitimately change to a study visa and vice-versa; (2) there is no evidence of a major issue of non-EU students overstaying their entitlement to stay.
The report strengthens the argument to remove international students from the UK’s migration statistics. International students make an enormous contribution to the UK and an immigration system is needed that provides universities with the autonomy to recruit the brightest and best students to study here (see the Education-related exports and transnational education activity published in July 2017).
Looking Forward to the Year Ahead
So, as we start the new academic year, along with all our new and returning students, I am excited about all that we will achieve this year.
2016/17 was a year of growth for us, as we continued to work towards delivering the global engagement strands of BU2018 in order to take Fusion global. I have already touched upon the great work staff have done to date around graduate employability through initiatives like the Global Talent Programme, with recent statistics showing BU ranked fourth in the UK for average graduate salaries. The Hubs of Practice have generated more than £1m of knowledge exchange income and delivered more than 40 collaborative projects since their inception in late 2015 and are one key avenue for developing a series of high impact strategic partnerships over the coming years. Finally, our global Festivals of Learning have continued to grow, both in terms of impact and engagement, with more than 2,000 participants taking part in the three week-long events last year.
The delivery of global engagement at BU to date has been built around a collaborative and a cohesive cross-institutional framework and a willingness to innovate, and it is this spirit of collaboration and innovation that means we start the new academic year with a great sense of optimism. As Sophie Kinsella, our other keynote at the ICC last week, said: “It’s lovely to be part of something that is going to be the first step in a really exciting adventure for all these students…’. I couldn’t agree more. Have a superb academic year ahead!