Find out about key points arising from the sessions:

Flexible paths to internationalisation via TNE

Asked how their institution had changed their approach to TNE in response to the pandemic, speakers offered a range of accounts: Hillary Vance, Assistant Vice President - Southeast & South Asian Affairs, University of Arizona, said it had prompted for the first time a shift into fully online programmes, a move which was likely to continue into 2022 and beyond; Professor Dr Perry Hobson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engagement, Sunway University, Malaysia, said that with the number of Malaysian students seeking to study overseas dropping by over 50 per cent, his institution had to re-think and re-work its pathways to studying at its TNE partner, Lancaster University;  Brett Berquist, Director International, University of Auckland, New Zealand, said his institution had leveraged TNE relationships in China to offer students the option of studying online from a Chinese campus: the result has been recruitment holding up to just 1 per cent below normal levels. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session

The importance of learner pathways and choices

One of the top priorities for addressing skills shortages in Azerbaijan is to align VET programmes to growth markets and sectors, says Jeyhun Karamov - Deputy Director, Azerbaijan State Agency on Vocational Education. But a big challenge is overcoming perceptions of VET as a "dead end" choice. Government agencies are working with employers, schools and parents to combat that, he said. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session

Higher education practices for our threatened world

Dr Diana Pritchard, International HE consultant and Principal Curriculum Developer, University of Bedfordshire, UK, presented the findings of research into HE practices that are being adopted by institutions across the world that aim to prepare graduates for employment, entrepreneurship, and community work, against the backdrop of complexity, precarity and uncertainty. She commented: "This is not just about developing what is going on in the head ... but also the ability to do, to make with the hands, and also to do with the heart with our values and ethos." Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

Enhancing quality in a time of rapid change

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, higher education quality assurances across the world have recognised the need for flexibility in their approaches, such as moving reviews online, postponing regulatory processes, easing reporting requirements on institutions, modifying regulations, and adopting flexible interpretations of standards and criteria, said Douglas Blackstock, CEO of the QAA in the UK and President of the European Association of Quality Assurance Agencies. The session heard examples of this in presentations from speakers from Egypt, Ukraine, and Hong Kong. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

Decolonising research: Equitable North-South collaborations workshop

The work of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP), a collaboration between the University of Lincoln and colleagues in Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan Rwanda and Nepal, was explored. The project empowers young people to inform the design and delivery of curricula and peacebuilding policy through working with academics, artists, local leaders and decision making bodies. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session

Ethical global partnerships for sustainable universities

To what extent are International HEI partnerships in a post-pandemic and vulnerable world politically, ethically and culturally loaded? While “partnerships for the goals” is a named priority in the UN SDGs, the colonial history of HE in some countries means western epistemologies and aims are dominant, a session heard. In such a world, it is easy to talk about ethical global partnerships but hard to achieve them because of entrenched systems and practices. Priorities for western universities, such as rankings and selectivity, override concerns about equality, according to Professor Rob Tierney, Dean Emeritus of Education at the University of British Columbia. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session

(Only) The right language test boosts international opportunities

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is jointly owned by British Council, Cambridge Assessment English and IDP Australia, and is recognised by 10,000 organisations worldwide as a valid and reliable indicator of ability. A presentation explored the role of language tests in opening opportunities and the four principles of language assessment; reliability of results, validity (testing the right thing), impact (consequence of its use) and practicality. “If you don’t design the questions well you might get feedback that is inappropriate and misleads you. We go to great lengths to minimise the chances of that,” said Andrew Blackhurst, Principal Research and Validation Manage, Cambridge English. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session

Improving social outcomes through data science

While data science is yet to influence education to the same depth as it has other sectors, such as banking, significant amounts of venture capital are going into education technology in China and South East Asia. As Professor Euro Beinat, Global Head of Data Science and AI; Professor of Data Science at Prosus Group/Naspers and University of Salzburg, Austria, points out, data personalisation and interventions in education are predicated on data science and AI, and this linkage is going to grow in importance. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session

Transformational reforms in India's HE system

India’s new National Education Policy (NEP) has internationalism at its heart, particularly international mobility of students from India and to India, according to Dr Manju Singh, Joint Secretary, International Cell, University Grants Commission. The UK and India 2030 road map, with its raft of education priorities including mutual recognition of qualifications, makes the UK an important partner in this international outlook. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

South Asia: Policy Innovations to Improve Learner Outcomes

In a session on improving learner outcomes in South Asia, the British Council’s Aatreyee Guha Thakurta noted that COVID-19 has “accelerated” experimentation into areas such as online learning across the region. World Bank Senior Operations Officer Dr Mokhlesur Rahman added that it had sparked increased adoption of blended learning, and panellists from Sri Lanka and Pakistan talked about responding to the challenge of improving quality and access. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

Future of International Tertiary Education: A Foresight Exercise 

The British Council’s Head of Education Research Michael Peak revealed the results of a short research project carried out in May and June this year, which surveyed students and leaders about the future of tertiary education. Students said they wanted to see more hybrid experiences, as well as more inclusivity and changes to the tuition fee structure. Leaders said they thought the student voice would get stronger, and the private sector would have an increased role. They also thought institutions would be expected to be contribute more to the “global good”. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Digital Learning and Teaching

Artificial Intelligence isn’t something that will arrive in future. It is here now, being used in chatbots, and virtual assistants. It’s also being trialled for grading assessments and making university offers. Jisc’s Jonathan Baldwin told delegates to expect it to be used more in the future, for dialogue-based tutorials, collaborative learning, recommendation engines, and AI-assisted content creation. He added that widespread adoption in education would be “relatively slow”, but that it could start to accelerate if a few forward-thinking university groups began to use it for interesting projects. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

Practical Tools for Leaders to Better Engage with Sustainable Development Goals

Dr Ian Rowlands, Associate Vice-president, International, at the University of Waterloo said that the university was working with partners and students to share perspectives and imagine new research collaborations. He said the teams aimed to “start small, get early wins, and build systematically”, and to blend the innovations of the last year and a half “with the experiences that everyone has missed so much”. He pointed to the collaborative work of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy, which gathered more than 150 energy experts from 34 countries. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

Will post pandemic partnerships be largely different? 

Keeping partnerships going in difficult circumstances takes extra resources in terms of time and money said Funmi Olonisakin, Vice President and Vice Principal International, King's College London, UK. “In a post-Covid world our partners will know who cared for them. We top universities have to put our voices together to promote our values and make a difference,” she said. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

A more inclusive student mobility

Short term student mobility of less than four weeks abroad accounts for more than a fifth – 21 per cent – of all student mobility in the UK and on 24th June in London a new survey will be published on the experiences of these students, the effect on their studies, employability and “soft” skills and the barriers they face, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, said Celia Partridge, Assistant Director for Mobility and Partnerships at UUK International. The study is expected to show that those from all backgrounds, wherever they go, come back and say they are more engaged in their courses, have a different perspective and new interests and that their experience has an impact on their employability.

Driving social justice through knowledge and innovation post Covid-19

Thinking on research funding is still quite siloed and yet many global challenges are linked, argued Andrew Thompson, UKRI International Champion for GCRF, UKRI, UK.  “For example, in Syria, food and water security and the conflict are entangled with each other.  There are questions about whose knowledge we actually value. If we look at the global refugee crisis, 80 per cent of refugees exist in Global South, yet 80 per cent of research on this is from the Global North. Who gets to define the problem and how is it defined?  Research funding needs to flow to the South to be truly equitable.” Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

Two global surveys; redefining higher education after Covid-19

Despite the fears of a slump in applications, domestic and adult learner university enrolments have held steady while international ones decreased, according to a survey by the International Association of Universities (IAU). Another survey by the French business school EDHEC found shared concern across many countries about widening access and climate change. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.

Serving international student markets during the Covid-19 crisis

Monthly pulse surveys conducted by QS show that students feel New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Germany have handled the pandemic best with UK a little way behind. But over vaccines it comes out as top with US next. “Students may feel that countries have handled the pandemic well but if they close their borders that is seen as less welcoming and international students are responding more favourably to countries that are seen as more welcoming during the pandemic and that is reflected in the positive sentiment towards the UK which have seen a significant increase,” said Nunzio Quacquarelli, Founder and CEO, QS, UK. Visit the session page to find out more about highlights from this session.