'Higher education is the root of economic diversification and the key to global prosperity', Dr Jo Beall told delegates in her closing speech to the British Council’s Going Global 2013 conference.
The annual conference, held for the first time in the Gulf region, saw 1,300 leaders of international education meet to share learning and debate how higher education can create knowledge-based economies for 21st century nations. More than fifty sessions took place over 4-6 March at the Dubai World Trade Centre, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The conference was presented in the UAE under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research who opened the conference with the UK’s Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, and the British Council’s Chief Executive Martin Davidson, CMG.
Dr Jo Beall, British Council Director Education and Society, said to the packed hall of delegates in her closing address: 'I have learned much from the past two days, and I hope you have, too. I have learned that the role of international collaboration is absolutely critical to peace and prosperity in our global world. The opening plenary session on meeting the challenges of 21st century nations highlighted the importance of international research links, innovative communications technologies and cross-sectoral partnerships.'
Dr Beall continued: 'I have learned how governments, employers, and education institutions are responding to the challenges of skills shortages and youth unemployment. Here at the conference, colleagues have highlighted the importance of integrating the needs of commerce, industry and what education systems deliver. This includes the important contribution made by the humanities and social sciences, which impart language and intercultural fluency, critical thinking and analytical skills.'
Dr Beall highlighted two pieces of key research launched at the conference with global implications: 'The "Culture at Work" research commissioned by Booz Allen and the British Council and launched at this conference suggests the business value of intercultural skills in the workplace, and how policy makers and education providers can do more to contribute to the development of these skills.'
'New research on transnational education systems and structures, launched yesterday, shows the importance of developing transnational education for international growth and offers evidence of trends and best practices in this field.' Dr Beall said.
'Finally, I have learned how international tertiary education structures and systems are becoming more diverse as we move into the 21st century.' Dr Beall concluded. 'Higher education systems must integrate local and international contexts to be relevant. With new technologies at our fingertips, we may be looking at hybrid models of online and face-to-face learning in the future, with higher education adapting in a process of continuous improvement as we seek to provide quality international education to ever greater numbers of people across the world.'
'We have a long road ahead of us as we build national and international higher education systems to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We owe it to our young people, who in many cases face an uncertain future, to develop the educational systems, institutions and networks to enable them to participate in an internationalised economy and to contribute to our shared future as responsible and talented global citizens.'
Dr Beall finished her speech by announcing that Going Global 2014 will be held in Miami, USA, on 29 April – 1 May 2014.