Spring Update

Thankfully spring seems to have finally arrived and we can say good riddance to the snow once and for all! As it was Christmas when I wrote my last update, there’s lots to report on over the past three months…here goes…

The Costs and Benefits of International Students

As regular readers of my updates know, I’m a passionate advocate of removing international students from the Government’s net migration targets and for supporting international students to take up work opportunities in the UK once they have completed their studies. It was therefore good to see the eagerly awaited report in January from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International Pathways, ‘The costs and benefits of international students by parliamentary constituency’, conducted by London Economics. The study shows analysis of both the costs and the benefits to the UK of welcoming 231,000 new international students each year. The research based on the 2015 cohort showed they made a net contribution of £20.35bn to the UK economy over the length of their courses. Headline data reported by HEPI reveals that the gross benefits – including tuition fees, other spending and economic knock-on effects – of international students amount to £22.6 billion.  Whereas, the public costs of hosting international students – including education, health and social security – total £2.3 billion.

Meanwhile, HESA’s annual data, also published in January, on student numbers attending higher education institutions in the UK for 2016–17 confirmed the number of international students studying in the UK is stagnating. The number of students from outside the EU applying to study in the UK has declined by 1% in the last 12 months, while the number of new students from outside the EU remains static at a time when students intending to study internationally is increasing.

Celebrating the Commonwealth

With the 21st Commonwealth Games taking place in April, we were delighted to welcome the Secretary General and Chief Executive of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), Dr Joanna Newman MBE, to BU in March. During her short visit, Joanna met with colleagues from across the University who have been, and remain, instrumental to the delivery of BUs global ambitions. It was a great opportunity to share thoughts and ideas around the internationalisation of HE. The ACU does a fantastic job in supporting collaborations and partnerships across its membership, which is made up of 500+ universities in more than 50 countries across the commonwealth. Joanna also delivered the first Global BUzz talk for 2018 on the ‘The challenges and opportunities for higher education in the Commonwealth’ which highlighted further the great work they champion across the globe. 

BU marks International Women’s Day

Like Universities all over the world, BU marked International Women’s Day with a series of events on campus including talks from Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, as well as panel discussions including one that examined the role of women as leaders in business: https://www1.bournemouth.ac.uk/news/2018-03-08/international-women-s-day-celebrated-bournemouth-university-event

We are of course fortunate to have some fantastic women business leaders in the region, and for the third year running, UK Managing Director and BU Board Member, Annette D’Abreo from Ceuta Healthcare hosted a visit from BU MBA students in February where they were given a detailed overview of the business and also heard from colleagues about international business development and talent management – https://twitter.com/GlobalBU/status/965665802732097536

Global Festival of Learning

I can’t believe that we are in the third year of the global Festival of Learning! Each year, we aim to make it bigger, better and more impactful, and the 2018 series is certainly epitomizing this. The theme for this year’s global Festival series is Global Education 2050: Inspiring Learning, Delivering Impact. We kicked off in India in February and have just returned from China and Hong Kong, where colleagues took part for the first time in the GREAT Festival of Innovation, showcasing BU’s expertise in animation. Through these two events, we have already travelled to seven cities and engaged with around 1,000 people. For the first time, we will be holding a Festival in Europe which will take place on the 16th and 17th April, followed then by the final event in ASEAN in May – where we will travel to Malaysia and Vietnam. For all the latest, check out our posts on Twitter via #GlobalFoL18.

Whilst in China, we got the fantastic news that Bournemouth University, alongside partners AFC Bournemouth and the Dorset FA, have once again been chosen to deliver bespoke training to a group of more than 60 football coaches from China. The coaches will head to Dorset from across China this summer to complete the three-month training in football coaching, before taking their new skills back to China and help to achieve China’s goal of training 50,000 full-time and part-time coaches by 2020 and winning a football World Cup before 2050! BU is the only university to have been selected as a partner for this programme for a third consecutive year. This project is a fantastic expression of our BUs vision of ‘Fusion’ – it was achieved through the hard work of colleagues from right across the University, including the China Innovation Hub, Student Services, and Faculties – a huge well done to all those involved.

Delivering the Industrial Strategy: Breaking Down Barriers

On 28th March, I joined a panel discussion as part of an event co-hosted by the Local Government Association, Universities UK, the NHS Confederation and HEFCE, about how we can build and embed the cross-sector leadership necessary to deliver a successful local industrial strategy. It was a really interesting debate, and for me, as the HE representative on the panel, UK universities do need to do more, and do it quicker, in terms of ‘University-Industry-Government’ interactions. As leaders in HEIs, we have three mission critical areas that we can therefore drive cross-sector engagement in: (i) addressing the existing skills mismatch – we know, for example, 40% of employers globally report difficulties filling jobs due to lack of available talent (Manpower Talent Shortage Survey, 2017) yet an average of 3% of our graduates are unemployed; (ii) prepare future-proof graduates –  more than a fifth of the global labour force – 800 million workers – might lose their jobs because of automation by 2030 according to McKinsey (2017) – what are we doing as Universities to prepare for this? and iii) in an era that is increasingly questioning the value for money and societal contributions of our Universities it is important that we develop a holistic ecosystem for our  public engagement activity locally, regionally, nationally and internationally in order to  deliver impact locally but remain relevant globally. Lots of challenges here, but as leaders within HE, we should be much bolder in working with industry and government on these issues.

So, as we seemingly race towards the end of what has been another busy and eventful academic year, I am reminded that the next twelve months will no doubt shape the future HE landscape dramatically. We are after all less than a year away from the dawn of a post-Brexit UK! But as I have said throughout these updates, change does bring opportunities as well as challenges and with the move into spring and with the green shoots appearing there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the UKs continuing position as a global education powerhouse. In fact, this point about the UK’s position in global education was debated at the Education Innovation Conference back in January that I spoke at, and whilst it is right that we face many challenges and changes, on balance the UK still leads the way in many regards; like Brexit though, we need to be alive and open to new ideas and ways of working to secure a bright future.


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