Day 2, Thursday 3 May 2018

Key highlights

  • In a packed session curated by the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education co-hosted by Going Global, delegates heard the views of ministers, government officials, and university leaders on the challenges facing higher education through the 4.0 industrial revolution. 
  • Speakers and delegates considered the prospect of an academic in a motion capture suit being be projected in front of a class anywhere in the world, in a session that debated the pros and cons of using avatars and augmented reality to enhance the student experience and increase the impact and reach of education.
  • The provisional findings of research for the British Council were presented into refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, aiming at getting their voice heard by understanding their needs and attitudes to the different education services offered to them.
  • The question of knowledge diplomacy in the 21st century and what part universities can – or should –play in it was debated at a well-attended session chaired by Jo Beall, the British Council’s Director of Education and Society and hosted with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).  
  • Panellists stressed the importance of “collaboration, balance and impact” when building the future of ASEAN Higher Education, in a session that considered how to ensure sustainable and equitable partnership opportunities in HE across the region.

Key points arising from sessions

Redesigning HE for 4.0 Industrial Revolution – the ASEAN experience

  • Addressing the question of how the 4.0 industrial revolution might impact on higher education, Hon. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN, ASEAN Secretariat, Indonesia, said it was a question of whether the sector’s unit of resource could cope with the associated changes, including demands for new skills and training. “The evident problem in the near future will not be just a lack of employment but a shortage of skills that new jobs will demand.”
  • His Excellency Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Minister of Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand, told delegates it was hard to get higher education to reform itself in response to the 4.0 industrial revolution. Equally, central planning for redesign has not worked for centuries, because “no big brother, even the most intelligent … can know what is going to change”. 

Five go to Malaysia - UK branch campuses making a difference

  • There are now 80,000 Malaysian students studying for UK qualifications, making them the largest single cohort, and the five UK branch campuses in Malaysia is the largest concentration of British overseas campuses anywhere in the world, said Paul J G Rennie OBE, Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission Malaysia. “It gives you a sense of scale that a country of relatively small size is so significant in our relationships,” he added. 
  • Asked to consider the main challenges and benefits of setting up a branch campus in Malaysia, Professor Graham Kendall, Provost, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Malaysia, said the challenges included overcoming tensions around the legal bureaucratic framework and engaging with quality assurance agencies both in the UK and Malaysia. The benefits included recognition for having established a global footprint and gaining kudos around the world and in the UK, with 10,000 students now graduating from the Malaysia campus.
  • Professor Rebecca Taylor, Provost, University of Southampton Malaysia Campus, said a branch campus could be seen as a drain on resources, and it was the responsibility of those running it to demonstrate that it is a real asset to the parent institution. She added: “The real job is positioning the campus under the university umbrella, and saying actually there is an incredibly valuable role that this campus can play both to the UK and to Malaysia to address issues like student mobility, some of the research collaborations to make those even stronger, to have more interesting partnerships spanning a wider area, and reach different regions we would not reach from the UK alone. It’s about positioning.” 
  • Professor Roger Barton, Provost, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed), said there was absolutely no doubt that having a branch campus in Malaysia offered “unlimited opportunities to capitalise on research”. Newcastle’s approach had been to look at its strengths and the needs of South East Asia, leading to research into areas such as genes and DNA analysis, water engineering, and antibiotic resistance. “It’s really adding value to the work we have been doing in the UK,” he said.

TNE quality assurance: a collaborative approach

  • Dr Warren Fox, Chief of Higher Education, Knowledge and Human Development Authority Dubai, UAE, outlined to delegates the work of the Quality Beyond Boundaries group, set up to take a collaborative approach to quality assurance in relation to Transnational Education. “The idea of this group is to work on real issues faced by us every day. This is not theory – we are facing rapid growth, we need to work with other jurisdictions on quality, we realise how important it is. To have these agencies work together began to demonstrate to us that there are a variety of ways to success,” he said.
  •  Dr Fabrizio Trifiro, Manager – International, Quality Assurance Agency, UK, said it has been calculated that only 15 countries worldwide do not have some form of TNE collaboration with the UK. TNE has also been the only area of growth for UK higher education over the past 5 years in terms of student numbers, which is why it is so challenging for the QAA to keep on top of the UK institutions’ work overseas and why it is so important for it to collaborate with other agencies abroad.
  • Two different approaches to quality assurance in TNE were described by Dr Morris Williams, Director – International Partnerships, University of the West of England, UK: a shared culture where partners had the same outlook and understanding, and the “compliance approach”, which was about “ticking many boxes”. “The question is how can we take the shared culture approach in a resource-sparse environment in many cases?” he asked. His research had found that for every trip to the UK by a Sri Lankan individual involved in TNE there were 40 in the other direction. “How to shift that has been a challenge”. 

Unbundling university activity, and the role of the Big Funders

  • Vivienne Stern, Director, Universities UK International, opened a session examining whether universities need to focus more on local concerns rather than international engagement with a cautious note referring to the UK context.  “This topic is very timely. We appreciate the value and essential nature of the international links that universities have.  But we are sharply conscious that government and public support for this must not be taken for granted,” she said. 

Bursting the international education bubble

  • Professor Tim Jones, Provost and Vice-Principal at the University of Birmingham, explained how his university had managed the ‘delicate balance’ between local and international but said it can’t afford to be complacent.   “Local and international are both at the heart of the university,” he said.  “Local is really important, we are an anchor institution in the second largest city in the UK.  25 per cent of our students are international from 150 countries and a third of our staff are international.  International is a big part of our strategy.” 
  • Professor Siow Heng Ong, Dean of International Affairs, Singapore Management University, Singapore said there had been some tension when the number of international students who came to Singapore amounted to about 20 per cent of the university cohort. “The numbers have since come down. It’s now down to 12-15 per cent.  The government looked at the numbers.  It’s now fewer students but we ramped up our exchange student programmes.”

Hot issues in higher education: sustainable and equitable partnership opportunities in ASEAN

  • What are the priorities of ASEAN countries when it comes to building sustainable education partnerships? Dr R. Purwanto Subroto - Director of University Partnership Directorate at Indonesia’s Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, - said that the country wanted to improve “access, relevancy and quality of higher education”, and “leverage science, technology and innovation competency”. A few of the ways it hopes to achieve this are improving student mobility, expanding joint and double degree programmes, and setting up joint research projects around the 10 themes of the National Research Masterplan. 
  • For Marianne Joy Vital - Project Consultant for the K-12 Project Management Unit at the Commission on Higher Education in the Philippines - the priority is to maintain the progress of the K to 12 Transition Program, instituted after the country increased its pre-university education cycle from 10 to 12 years. The plan involves investing in scholarships, as well as faculty, staff development, and institutional development innovation grants. Another element involves instituting a senior high school training package for HE institutions. The country is forging partnerships to address graduate education areas that are unavailable locally.
  • Panellists stressed the importance of “collaboration, balance and impact” when building the future of ASEAN Higher Education. Professor Emeritus Soottiporn Chittmitrapap - Advisor to Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Education - said that “collaboration and transnational education” was the answer, but there remained “a need to build trust”. When Chair and Education Insight director Dr Janet Ilieva gently pressed about the possibility of a “supranational transnational strategy”, the panel was more non-committal, although Marianne Joy Vital said it might be “a conversation which could be initiated” at some point.  

Avatars and Augmented Reality: Student Experience of the Future?

  • What might advances such as avatars, artificial intelligence and augmented reality mean for education? Peter Truckel – Director of Bournemouth University’s VFX Hub – painted a picture of a teacher in a motion capture suit who could be projected in front of a class anywhere in the world, with their dress, dialect, appearance and language altered to fit the location. Truckel – who previously filmed VFX sequences for films such as Blade Runner and Alien – says that the “inevitable” arrival of a major delivery player such as Amazon or Netflix into the space would “change everything”, and that academics should embrace their role as partners, developing structured modules for this new approach. 
  • Bournemouth University student Oliver Carpenter pointed out that the influence of Snapchat, Apple and Facebook is expected to see AR become a $60bn market by 2021, with over a billion users. Sunway University student Chao-Jin Teh discussed the potential for real-time translation of voice and text conversations, something that Skype is already dipping its toe into with its Translator offering. Panel Chair Dame Mary Marsh – a member of the University of Nottingham’s Asia Advisory Board - welcomed the prospect of greater communication, but didn’t want it to affect the value of language learning “as an important way to learn about other cultures”.
  • Technology is a tool. And panellists recognised the need to shape it in the right way. Bournemouth student Ruth Harley discussed the possibility of sponsorship for poorer countries who would benefit from access, and delegates discussed the dangers of such tools being used to spread disinformation. For example, the room recognised the attractiveness of having a representation of Einstein deliver a lesson on relativity, but also wanted to avoid situations in which he might be programmed to tell students that “the Earth is flat”.  

Global Citizens: The Impossible Dream

  • What does it mean to be a global citizen? For Lakshmi Iyer, the Global Head of Education at India’s Sannam S4, it was a process of self-discovery, but also of seeing her country “from the outside in”. As someone who studied abroad in the UK, she observed best practices internationally, made connections and formed an idea of her – and her country’s - context in the world. She said her internationalist outlook gave her a fresh perspective on India, which she said could benefit from the job creation and innovation prompted by Indian-born global citizens returning to their home country and contributing to societal change. 
  • Professor J Anitha Menon - the Associate Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Zambia - said that - in order to create global citizens - universities needed to produce “socially and emotionally resilient citizens”. She said this could not be achieved by traditional education methods alone, as they are too focused on subjects and technical areas. She proposed “an innovative curriculum that includes soft skills such as assertiveness and stress management, which will promote more professional and personal development”.

Building the DNA for learning and teaching 4.0: the Malaysian vision

  • Universiti Teknologi Mara has responded by “moving a little further ahead”, developing an “Education 5.0” plan that emphasises “going back to the human”. Director of Academic Development Professor Dr Nor Aziah Alias said the plan encourages students to be “agents of their own learning”, with more focus on industry-relevance, multidisciplinary electives, and facilities featuring experts in areas such as robotics and cloud based systems. UiTM also completed 485 MOOCs last year, with 450 more projected by the end of 2018.
  • Middlesex University’s Work and Learning Research Centre Director Professor Carol Costley laid out a template for a “negotiated work-based learning project”, in which knowledge is “created and used rather than codified” and workplace-friendly soft skills such as communication and independent working are developed. Professor Abdul Karim Alias – the Director of the Centre for Development of Academic Excellence at the Universiti Sains Malaysia - also stressed the importance of these skills. He said that it was foolish to try and challenge AI and robots at their own game, and that students should instead develop their “most essential human abilities”, such as intuition, wisdom, empathy, storytelling and relationship-building. 

IELTS General Training: evolution in an era of growing global mobility

  • Security measures around the high stakes IELTS test include the collection of biometric data and a high resolution photograph on the test form that can be scanned by facial recognition software, said Alan Addison, the British Council’s IELTS Global Stakeholder Engagement Manager. “However, once the test paper leaves the centre we lose control over it and though fraud is very low – less than one per cent – it is an important one per cent and we strongly advise institutions to take one minute to use our online verification service,” he said. 

Refugees in tertiary education: global challenge, local responses

  • There are an estimated 65 million displaced refugees in the world with the number from Syria representing the second worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East said Dr Mohamad Saad, Head of the Department of Psychology at the British University in Egypt, presenting his provisional research for the British Council on refugees in Lebanon and Jordan aimed at getting their voice heard by understanding their attitudes to the different education services offered to them and what they need. 
  • Only one per cent of refugees enrol in higher education and we are suffering a lost generation, said Dr Saad. Male and female refugees were aware of the importance of higher education for their present and futures and to help rebuild their country but they indicated that there were barriers to enrolment. These included non-recognition of their prior learning certificates, the need for documentation and the expense because they had to balance education with supporting themselves and their families for three or four years and language barriers. Refugees in Lebanon needed to find sponsors and this required a significant amount of money and sometimes they were being abused as they sought sponsors. On-line and distance learning programmes would be more accessible but they were seen by the refugees as inferior.
  • Allison Church, Director of Educational Programme MENA, Kiron Open Higher Education, Jordan said attitudes to types of courses was a barrier to refugees because there was a stigma attached to certain forms of education and employment. Engineering and medicine were the two coveted fields and though there was no chance of employment, the refugees still wanted to study them even if they were going to become taxi drivers. There were no higher education programmes they could access for areas in which they could find work and attain skills to help them rebuild their country – agriculture or construction management and textile programmes were very limited and not very coveted.  

Global institutions - servants of too many masters?

  • Are universities the servants of too many masters? That was the question addressed at the day’s plenary session chaired by Professor Jo Beall, the British Council’s Director of Education and Society. Universities have to balance often conflicting agendas, delivering national and global priorities while delivering local benefits, she said. The answer is “unequivocally yes” according to panellist Prof. Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, South Africa. “Never should it be an either/or. Each university has to make its own conscious choices based on its context and capacity while attempting to fulfil its mission.” he said. 

Diplomacy and international relations: the role of education

  • The question of knowledge diplomacy in the 21st century and what part universities can – or should –play in it was debated at a well-attended session chaired by Jo Beall, the British Council’s Director of Education and Society and hosted with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).  “We are looking at the shift in diplomacy from what was a state based approach, where diplomats and ministries of foreign affairs engaged in diplomacy country to country, to what is now much more a multi-actor approach where people talk of soft power and where non-governmental organisations, universities, groupings of experts, artists and so on will all play a key role in diplomatic relations between countries,” she said.
  • Panellist, Christian Müller, Director of Strategy, DAAD Germany, said a cross-border approach to research and shared practice was important for ensuring peace and stability, and countering current nationalistic and isolationist trends. However, Professor Dr Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, President of the Euro- Mediterranean University, Slovenia, warned against falling into the trap of labelling any international research collaboration as knowledge or science diplomacy. It was better to do so retrospectively, when it had actually turned out to be so, he said. 

What if? Imagining the ‘Asian Century’

  • By the year 2050, Asia will be host to three of the five largest economies in the world, according to a report by PwC, and home to over half of the of the world's 9.7 billion people.  What would an Asian Century look like? Panellists were asked to future-gaze at how the world could be re-shaped. Matt Durnin, Head of Research and Consultancy for the British Council’s International Education Service, said he thought China would go from strength to strength.  He could not have predicted 10 years ago the rapid change in China: It is entirely likely that China could be the global leader in innovation because it is so dynamic, he said.  
  • But 32 years is a long time and all kinds of things could happen, including the rise of Africa, said panellist Mary Kay Magistad, Creator and host of the US podcast “Whose century is it?” When she moved to China in 1995 nobody was predicting that the Chinese economy would soon be one of the world’s biggest economies. She suggested that the lack of openness in China might constrict its progress compared with a democratic country such as India.
  • Professor Xie Tao, Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean, Beijing Foreign Studies University, China, predicted that the most likely scenario was that the Asian century would be the Chinese century, considering its population size and economic growth. He thought Chinese could become the second language in many schools across Asia and Beijing could come the centre of regional education and it was imaginable that Shanghai could replace New York as the world’s financial centre.  But it was also possible that China might need to share its dominance with another country and that might be India and so there would be two spheres of influence.  

Key quotes from day 2 sessions

“In the UK, we have had universities for 1,000 years, and that comes with advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are we have very high quality education, and we have centuries of capability that have built up. But equally we can be stuck in our cultures. One advantage we might see here in the ASEAN region is newer universities that will be able to be more innovative and adaptable.” Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor, University of Nottingham. Redesigning HE for 4.0 Industrial Revolution – the ASEAN experience.

“We believe that in order for higher education 4.0 to be successful the whole ecosystem will have to work together in in order to ensure that positive changes can truly happen.”  Dato’ Kamel Bin Mohamed, Deputy Secretary General, Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia. Redesigning HE for 4.0 Industrial Revolution – the ASEAN experience.

“I think the idea that teachers will need to be just good facilitators is all wrong. Google, the internet, cannot do what teachers do. They cannot motivate students. They do not know what is important. They cannot assess well because that requires judgement. These are not things teachers should worry about – the rushing in of Industry 4.0. Robots are not humans, and education is not just for living, it’s also for life. There is a notion that a life that is worth living cannot be taught by machines.” His Excellency Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Minister of Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand. Redesigning HE for 4.0 Industrial Revolution – the ASEAN experience.

“Universities receive their funding from a very wide range of sources. However, to use the English idiom, “he who pays the piper calls the tune”, and so if one funder is dominant because they are the major funder or the most prestigious funder then university focus and direction-setting can be compromised.” Professor Sir Paul Curran, President, City – University of London, UK. Unbundling university activity, and the role of the Big Funders.

“If ASEAN countries collaborate and each can establish its own specialisation, you can build economic advantages as a region. It allows for greater economic integration across these countries, and serves as a touchpoint. In partnering with one country, you're able to indirectly partner with another country as well.” Marianne Joy Vital, Commission on Higher Education, Philippines. Hot issues in higher education: sustainable and equitable partnership opportunities in ASEAN.

“There is this idea that technologies such as AR will be a panacea for all the ills of higher education. It’s simply a tool that will come into use. But if done properly, it could lead to a certain amount of democratisation, and make education more accessible to people who wouldn’t normally be able to have face-time with a Harvard professor. And it could be great for places that don’t have the infrastructure to build huge campuses.” Peter Truckel, Bournemouth University. Avatars and Augmented Reality: Student Experience of the Future?

“You can’t dismiss critical thinking from any learning process. Partnerships will be developed with these great distribution outlets such as Amazon and Netflix, but they’ll need to team up with academics to deliver structured modules. It’s up to us to make sure that this is all done ‘for good’. With great power comes great responsibility.” Peter Truckel, Bournemouth University. Avatars and Augmented Reality: Student Experience of the Future?

“One of the key elements that plays into developing a global citizen is to somehow get students to become uncomfortable with their environment, and to get out of their comfort zone. One of the biggest obstacles is that universities often provide a very comfortable environment for students, so they don't see the need to go somewhere and interact with cultures and people of different backgrounds. We need to get students to realise that personal growth is directly related to being occasionally uncomfortable with the environment in which they find themselves. This process can very much start on the home campus.” Professor Peter Mascher, McMaster University, Canada. Global Citizens: The Impossible Dream.

“We are looking at learner-driven learning, and learners as agents of their own learning. We put learners as partners. We want to see seamless learning, not bounded by weeks and semesters. We want to see students building their own personalised learning pathways and courses.” Professor Dr Nor Aziah Alias, Universiti Teknologi Mara. Building the DNA for learning and teaching 4.0: the Malaysian vision.

“The problems facing the world today are simultaneously intensely local and intensely global and universities cannot solve them but they can’t sit on the sidelines either because they are social institutions, they are the engines of knowledge production, they work with the new generation of intellectuals and they can’t simply be global institutions, they have to be strongly rooted in their context but at the same time operating in a global context.” Professor Ahmed Bawa, Chief Executive Officer of Universities South Africa. Global institutions - servants of too many masters?

“I have no doubt that by 2050 if any academic, if any student gets an offer from a leading Asian institution it won’t be a value proposition any more, it will be a genuine quality proposition and they will consider it. Beyond that, looking to 2050 if countries in the region adopt excellence through openness or disruption there is a real possibility that Asia will realise global leading excellence in higher education much sooner than most of us would predict.” Matt Durnin, Head of Research and Consultancy for the British Council’s International Education Service. What if? Imagining the ‘Asian Century’

"Sharing our ideas for the development of inclusive Physical Education teacher training programmes globally, was the first step in expanding our network of like-minded HE practitioners who really want to make a difference in terms of inclusion, not only for our students, but the wider community." Lerverne Barber, Deputy Head Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, UK. Promoting inclusion, creating opportunity: collaborating for success.