New research from the British Council was presented on the policy environment for international higher education in over 20 countries, measured against a wide range of factors.


The findings of a new British Council study on digital globalisation of knowledge and comparing its impact in South Asia and EU were also presented and discussed.


“Uber-style” approaches to university education and “nanopublication” were among the developments discussed in a session that examined educational applications of blockchain technology.


Delegates were asked to consider whether knowledge is the new diplomacy. Professor Jane Knight, an Adjunct Professor of Education at the University of Toronto, Canada, sought to provide an answer in her research report sponsored by the British Council, Knowledge Diplomacy in Action.


The vital role of universities in helping students meet the demands of a digital future was the subject of a lively and packed debate.  



Key points arising from sessions and research debated:  

Student recruitment in a digital world

Digital technologies have radically changed international student recruitment but personal contact still matters, Simon Emmett, the CEO of IDP Connect, used by 39,000 students a year, told delegates. His company has found rapid growth in the number of students starting their research for courses on digital platforms but 55% of them say they still want to speak to someone to get questions answered. That illustrates that digital is driving student demand but students want human contact, he said.

All the information via social media, such as about gun crime on campus in the USA or attitudes to immigration, is weighing in on student perceptions but it is possible to fight back. Universities in the USA have successfully used the #YouAreWelcomeHere promoting the fact that, despite the messages out there politically, the faculties and university communities are there supporting international students, said Paul Schulmann, Associate Director of Research, World Education Services USA.

Find out more about Student recruitment in a digital world session.

Knowledge: the new diplomacy?

Knowledge diplomacy is an example of a new type of diplomacy, distinct from the traditional one that focuses on the role of government through foreign ministers and embassies. Knowledge diplomacy is important to help solve global challenges and to provide reliable research and verifiable evidence, said panel member Professor Knight, an Adjunct Professor of Education at the University of Toronto, Canada.

It is important to create a “learning community” rather than re-inventing the wheel, said Dr Dorothea Rüland, Secretary General, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). "Knowledge should be open to everyone. We have to find models, ways and means to distribute knowledge and make it available all over the world" she said.  “There's lots of opportunity for digitalisation to open up internationalisation to new parts of society. If we can offer blended learning models, it opens up access to new, huge communities.”

Find out more about Knowledge: the new diplomacy? session.

Shaping the digital future: the successful advancement of students

In a session considering the role of universities in helping students meet the demands of a digital future, Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Manchester, UK, said the real drivers of change were becoming apparent at every stage of the research process. The move towards open access and open data are gathering momentum despite resistance from publishers and the reluctance academics have to abandoning the journal hierarchies around which personal and institutional status has been built, he added.

Find out more about Shaping the digital future: the successful advancement of students session.

Digital collaboration to sustain global research

"How can we make sure that digital opportunities will work in countries where access to the internet and digital is still inconsistent and unreliable?" asked Catherine Sinclair-Jones, Research and Policy Analyst at British Council, Pakistan.  "We need to make sure these countries are not losing the opportunities, so exacerbating the divide. We have to make sure the impact is mutual and driven by a long-term agenda because that is where there could be huge rewards, especially in countries where you might have low trust", she added. 

 The high cost of providing access to technology in a country such as Nigeria where public universities cannot charge tuition fees – only admin fees - was raised by panel member Professor Bolaji Fatai Sule, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of llorin, Nigeria. He had learned from the round table discussion that some universities in the UK got together to have services provided more cheaply on a regional basis – something which he would take home to explore. 

Find out more about Digital collaboration to sustain global research session.

ARUA: The changing research environment in Africa

Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Secretary-General, African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), Accra, Ghana, outlined the creation of ARUA, a collaboration of 16 of Africa’s flagship research-intensive universities, that is aiming to move Africa from being a “thin provider of knowledge” in tackling global and African challenges to becoming a major force for providing answers to these challenges and contributing to economic transformation. It has established 13 centres of research excellence and selected 13 priority areas to focus on. “We believe that for all the challenges that face Africa, it is unlikely one discipline will provide the answers.”

Professor Ama de Graft Aikins, Dean of International Programmes, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana, said her institution had introduced a strategy aiming to become more research-intensive, increasing the number of graduate students it trained, and by strengthening PhD programmes to generate more PhD graduates who could go on to teach in universities. “Ghana is very much like other African countries, where we have a massive explosion of private universities, and every country needs to work out how they are going to populate these new universities with the right kind of academics.” 

Find out more about ARUA: The changing research environment in Africa session.

The changing shape of global higher education

Delegates were asked to guess what proportion of internationally mobile students from Europe choose to study at a degree level in another European country. Nearly a third (31.8%) said about half – but the correct answer according to British Council research is 83%. 

Delegates were also asked which European country they thought had the best policy for transnational education, according to a range of measures applied in a British Council study. Some 58.7 per cent thought the answer was Germany, but in fact the answer was Bulgaria.

Asked to say what they thought would have the most significant impact on higher education in the next five to ten years, most delegates mentioned technology, while demographics, Brexit, China, politics, and funding were also popular responses. 

Find out more about The changing shape of global higher education session.

Digital globalisation of knowledge and the impact on higher education in South Asia and the EU

A study comparing how countries in South Asia and in the European Union are responding to the impact of digital globalisation on higher education found that while Europe is “further along the curve” in some ways, in terms of ambition and vision for the future, Europe is more behind the curve and has a lot to learn from South Asia as far as passion, energy and commitment is concerned, said Stuart McDonald, Founder-Director, International Culture Relations, UK. 

Find out more about Digital globalisation of knowledge and the impact on higher education in South Asia and the EU session.

It takes more than two to tango: industry, education and enterprise

In a session examining the intersection between, industry, education and enterprise, delegates were invited to debate a range of questions posed by speakers, from how to prepare students for an uncertain jobs market to how to ensure they have the right attitudes in the workplace and do not join the majority of employees who do not enjoy their work.

Professor Smile Dzisi, Vice-Chancellor, Koforidua Technical University, Ghana, said driving more interest in entrepreneurship among students has to come from the university leadership and faculty. Victor Shim, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Associate Vice-President, NUS Global Relations Office, National University of Singapore, said students had to be allowed to learn about entrepreneurship through the experience of failing.

Find out more about It takes more than two to tango: industry, education and enterprise session.

Horizons 2025: Exploring new agendas for higher education internationalisation in ASEAN

In a session about Higher Education internationalisation in ASEAN, Guy Perring, i-graduate’s Regional Director for Asia, outlined some of the initiatives taking place. These included the British Council’s collaboration with the Philippines’ Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to create more transnational programmes, and the Future Skills Initiative in Singapore. He said that “much of the innovation and dynamism in Higher Education over the next 25 years” could originate from East Asia. 

On the theme of attracting students from abroad, Dr Aurasa Pavavimol, Deputy Secretary General of the Office of the Higher Education Commission in Thailand said that the focus should be on “education quality above all”. Other panellists addressed ideas such as establishing niche programmes and collaborations, and focusing on employment opportunities.

Find out more about Horizons 2025: Exploring new agendas for higher education internationalisation in ASEAN session.

National Strategies for Technological Advancement

In a “world café” session discussing the role of universities in building knowledge economies, Professor Brian Cantor, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bradford, said that it is vital that there is “a link through the whole education system” if countries want to encourage innovation and social development. He stressed the importance of learning from each other, rather than pushing a “one-size-fits-all” approach to development. 

Professor Kevin Hall, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Newcastle in Australia, observed that a university’s vision should include a statement about its role within the community it inhabits. In terms of technology development, for example, he said that a university can offer value by providing support and incubation space, and that it should be available to community members as well as students and academics.

Find out more about National Strategies for Technological Advancement session.

Is the University of Applied Science model transferable or is it too European?

Can the University of Applied Science model work outside Europe? Professor Dr Manar Khaled Fayyad, President of German Jordanian University, said the model helped Jordan to address the problem of “graduates entering the market, but not being prepared for the market”. The University works with a network of German universities to develop study plans, and students must spend at least one year in Germany. “When you see students enter the market and be accepted by companies, you know the model is successful.”

Dr Ing Elmar Stumpf, CEO of conneum GmbH in Germany, gave an industry view of universities of applied science. He said the students arriving for six-month internships were “motivated people coming in with new ideas”. But he added there is room for both classical and applied science universities in the workplace. “There are tasks that are better done by students at universities, and certain tasks that I prefer to give to students from universities of applied science.” 

Find out more about Is the University of Applied Science model transferable or is it too European? session.

Structuring Knowledge and Decisions – Is the Truth Out There?

Professor John Domingue, Director of The Knowledge Media Institute at the Open University, shared a few applications of blockchain in education. He discussed the concept of “nanopublication”, in which single verified, attributed and timestamped assertions can be published cheaply and quickly. He also discussed “Uber-style” approaches to university education, such as Woolf University. This “blockchain university” enables academics to sign up and develop and teach their own courses. 

Jisc futurist Martin Hamilton asked delegates to consider which data was sensitive, and to be aware of worst-case scenarios. He pointed out that we “don’t always know what’s happening to our data and where it is” and that there is a danger is could misused or “weaponised”. He asked delegates to consider models such as the “data trust”, in which a licensed third-party could help raise confidence about data security. 

Find out more about Structuring Knowledge and Decisions – Is the Truth Out There? session.

Report: The shape of global higher education volume 4

STUDY FINDS LINK BETWEEN INWARD STUDENT MOBILITY AND GDP

There is a positive relationship between inward student mobility and a country’s wealth, as measured by GDP, a British Council analysis of the policy environment for international higher education in over 20 countries has found.


The study, discussed in the Going Global session The changing shape of global higher education, also shows there is a positive relationship between student mobility and quality of research, and that countries with high levels of national support for their international engagement tend to have high inbound student mobility.


Many countries have renewed, or recently published International Higher Education strategies. The research found that bilateral and multilateral agreements were a growing element in these strategies. But there were also indications that international education was becoming an important consideration in countries’ foreign policies.


An assessment of countries’ national policy frameworks for international education against a range of factors, from openness to sustainable development, places the Netherlands at the top of the table, followed by Germany and Ireland. The UK is in seventh place, also behind Australia, Poland and France.

Download The shape of global higher education volume 4 report.

Report: Digital Globalisation of Knowledge and its Impact on Higher Education in South Asia and Europe

DIGITAL KNOWLEDGE MUST BECOME MAINSTREAM IN EUROPE AND SOUTH ASIA, SAYS REPORT

South Asia and Europe are both at the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution fundamentally changing the way people live, work and relate to one another. Both regions believe that the digitalisation of knowledge will bring enormous benefits according to new research commissioned by the British Council and discussed at the session Digital globalisation of knowledge and the impact on higher education in South Asia and the EU.

In both regions digital will need to be mainstreamed in policy, integral to delivery from the start and no longer treated as something separate. The days of the digital strategy are numbered, says the report.  

One clear difference between the regions is that in Europe the EU offers regional level support for collaboration within an already strong innovation culture. However, digital education will be transformative for societies in South Asia and some think the region has the potential to overtake Europe. These two great regions can, and must, learn from each other. 

Access to digital higher education has to be equitable to ensure the maximum opportunity for participation in society and the economy of the future. There are anxieties that the impact on societies will be to widen educational, economic and digital divides, the report warns.

Download Digital Globalisation of Knowledge and its Impact on Higher Education in South Asia and Europe report.