Day 3, Friday 4 May 2018

Key highlights

  • Professor Jo Beall, the British Council’s Director of Education and Society announced next year’s conference, which will take place from 13th to 15th in Berlin in partnership with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
  • The winners of this year’s Going Global poster competition were announced. Out of 51 on display, the winner was Barbara Howell, Associate Dean – International, Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing, and Dr Nigel Trodd, Associate Head – International, Energy, Construction and Environment, both at Coventry University, UK, winning with a poster called Global Connections with Geographical Impact for the Development of Advanced Intercultural Mobile Employability Skills.
  • Academics, policy makers and politicians gave up the stage to students at the closing plenary session of Going Global 2018. Four international students reflected on their experiences, the debates they had listened to and the future challenges for higher education from a student perspective.
  • New British Council research was presented on the impact of Transnational Education on graduate employment prospects in Malaysia.

Key points arising from sessions

International Research for Sustainable Development

  • The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are a clarion call to the world to tackle issues such as climate change, hunger, equality and decent work. Everyone has a role to play. So where does research fit in? Panellists pointed to “collaboration” as a vital element of any drive to meet the goals. Crops for the Future CEO Professor Sayed Azam-Ali said that there was a need to adapt to change, and re-skill across the board. He pointed out that humanity was consuming 1.7 times the resources the planet could renew each year, and that addressing and adjusting to that was the responsibility of everyone. This includes governments, universities, but also the private sector, which he said needed to go beyond just Corporate Social Responsibility and demonstrate it is “committed in practical terms”. 
  • Y.Bhg. Datin Paduka Ir. Dr Siti Hamisah Binti Tapsir - the Director General of Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education – said that building an “innovation ecosystem” was one of the 10 “shifts” outlined in the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025. She said that moves had already been made to promote “matching” schemes such as the Private-Public Research Network, “to map out areas of common interest…share resources and maximise funding”. She added that Malaysia was seeking international “research partners”, exploring the possibility of co-laboratories sharing data and challenges.
  • Professor Graham Kendall – Provost and CEO of the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus – said that the University didn’t originally set up its six “Beacons of Excellence” with the Sustainable Development Goals in mind, but that they matched well. For example, its Rights Lab is focused on ending the issue of world slavery, which affects 46 million worldwide. It is also focused on Future Food, Precision Imaging, Propulsion Futures, Green Chemicals, and Smart Industrial Systems. He said there was potential for Operations Research to make a significant impact if it aligned more closely with the SDGs. 

New challenges for international leadership in higher education

  • Professor Arham Bin Abdullah, Director – Industry Relation Division, Higher Education Department, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia, outlined an initiative from the Ministry called the CEO Faculty Programme whose main objective was to create a platform for an active and sustainable academia/industry coalition, helping to build trust and engagement between higher education and business and industry. In 2017 the Programme involved 73 CEOs in engagement with academia in various forms, running the total number of engagement sessions up to 300 with more than 100,000 participants from universities and polytechnics across Malaysia. The initiative is also helping to guide young academics into leadership roles. 
  • Dr Zaw Wai Soe, Rector, University of Medicine 1, Yangon, Myanmar, who chairs a new Rector's Committee in Myanmar, outlined the leadership challenges faced through planned reform of higher education in Myanmar, which is ushering in new priorities such as equality of opportunities and lifelong learning, and also bringing in a new level of autonomy of which there is very little experience in the country’s HE system, where 174 universities are controlled and funded by 9 different government ministries. 
  • “The development of an international strategy for higher education needs a strategy. It sounds obvious, but it’s not always the case,” Professor Richard A. Williams OBE, Vice-Chancellor, Heriot-Watt University, UK, told delegates, as he described his institution’s journey towards becoming a fully integrated global university rather than “a university that has branch campuses”. Critical to that was ensuring that staff based in different locations have the chance to get together so “everyone works at making every location successful”. 
  • Delegates were asked to discuss and identify their biggest leadership challenges. Responses included how to take staff out of their comfort zone and change their mindset towards collaborating with business and industry; achieving good communications with branch campuses; and improving access for impoverished students. They were also invited to answer 7 “magic questions” to help them meet their leadership challenges, ranging from how would someone you really admire approach the challenge to what is the simplest or most radical course of action? 

Student mobility experience – Malaysia truly international

  • Malaysia is increasingly popular as study destination because its universities offer high quality courses at more affordable prices, panellist Dr Yazrina Yahya, Director of the International Relations Centre at Universiti Kebangsaan, told a session on student mobility, curated by the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education, Going Global co-hosts. The Ministry is promoting international education while universities themselves are setting up collaborations with institutions across the globe. Malaysia now has a record 136,293 international students from 163 countries. 
  •  Malaysia is South-East Asia for beginners. It gives German students the chance to experience Asia in a country which is well-organised and safe, said Professor Dr Axel Hunger, Dean of Studies at the Faculty of Education, University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE). His Department pioneered a double degree with faculty of the National University of Malaysia (UKM) 15 years ago.  There had been “ups and downs” at first because of distance – the universities are 15,000 kilometres apart – and coming to grips with cultural differences.  “We knew that we had different quality control structures, in Germany it is bottom up and in Malaysia top down, but at the end of the day they had the same goals,” he said. But the two faculties overcame the challenges. Every one of the first 100 German students on the double degree had successfully completed their studies, he added.  “The employment prospects for the graduates are good. Employers are employing them faster and with higher salaries,” he said. 
  •  Australian MBA graduate Jesse Frank Rafidi told the session that he wanted an international experience and chose Malaysia because he wanted to lever the opportunities of a fast developing nation. “I chose the Asia School of Business because of the strength of the faculty but also because of the diversity of students.  I think you can learn as much from your classmates as you can from professors and I wanted to build a wide network,” he added. 

Structured for success: building innovative frameworks of collaboration

  • A session on building innovative frameworks for collaboration explored the implications for universities of the development of the ASEAN Qualification Reference Framework involving expertise and funding from the EU through SHARE, a programme to strengthen regional co-operation and internationalisation.  Ian Robinson, EU Share Director, said Malaysia was leading the initiative to harmonise levels of qualifications and make them more understandable for students and employers. It is the only one of the 10 ASEAN countries to have completed all the stages of implementation. Once in place, the framework would help to remove duplication of qualifications and help to facilitate credit sharing schemes, he added. 

Closing plenary: Global education, local impact: shaping a future world

  • Academics, policy makers and politicians gave up the stage to students at the closing plenary session of Going Global 2018 at the KLCC Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur. Four international students reflected on their experiences, the debates they had listened to and the future challenges for higher education from a student perspective.
  • Asked what thoughts the students would be taking away, Nigerian Nwamaka Ogbonna said the world was changing rapidly and there needed to be a commitment to lifelong learning and imagining new ways of teaching and upskilling people across the world. She would like to see university leaders and policy makers include the voices of the global south that were often left out of the conversation. Members of the academic community and governments needed to be more deliberate in including the voices of the global south so those regions can have the necessary skills in the world of work. “The incentive for me to go back home is the realisation there are big problems that need to be solved,” she added.
  • Yinbo Yu, International Students’ Officer for the UK’s National Union of Students said he was pleased that delegates had not referred to students as consumers.  “I hear this at other conferences and I don't think education should be seen as a commodity and universities as businesses. Students are learners, not customers. We have a global responsibility to make education accessible to everyone”
  • Dr Abhi Veerakumarisivam, chair of Malaysia’s Young Scientists Network, said he had found it humbling to listen to high level discussions and the conference between people from all over the world. “We live in a world where there is a desire for instant gratification – that while I am giving I should be expecting something in return and I think that part of the problem is that we as educators have forgotten what our real purpose is. When I talk to young scientists it is often about how they can get a promotion and that has hijacked our real purpose. You can blame it on rankings or greed but we need to think about the ethics and the values and doing things for the right purpose that goes beyond your individual interests.”
  • Professor Jo Beall, the British Council’s Director of Education and Society, announced the winners of this year’s Going Global poster competition. Out of 15 on display, the winner was Barbara Howell, Associate Dean – International, Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing, and Dr Nigel Trodd, Associate Head – International, Energy, Construction and Environment, both at Coventry University, UK, winning with a poster called Global Connections with Geographical Impact for the Development of Advanced Intercultural Mobile Employability Skills. In second place was Piet Grymonprez, Co-Founder and Managing Director, MyMachine Global Foundation, Belgium; and in third place was Dr Cynthia Posadas, Dean, and Gladys Navarro, Resource Generation and Support Services Officer, both from Saint Louis University, Philippines. Presenting her poster, Barbara Howell described the challenge of persuading students in her Faculty to spend time in other countries, which was overcome by getting each course to twin with an overseas partners in a specific industry, from computer games in Brazil to bridge building in Gambia. As a result, over 1,000 students from the faculty have travelled overseas.
  • Professor Jo Beall, the British Council’s Director of Education and Society, thanked the co-hosts of this year’s Going Global, the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education, as well as the global and ASEAN steering groups and British Council staff in Kuala Lumpur and the UK for helping to create a programme of successful debate on a wide range of topics and issues. Announcing next year’s conference, which will take place from 13th to 15th in Berlin in partnership with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), she said: “As a strong collaborator across international boundaries, Germany will provide an ideal location and a great partner to debate the important issues that face us all.”

Key points arising from research launched

  • Transnational Education programmes are most likely to give Malaysian students the kinds of skills and competences the employers are looking for, according to new research from the British Council presented at Going Global. The three-phase study found the employers, students, parents, senior managers and academic staff all see TNE programmes as the best place for students to acquire key skills such as communication, working with people, and also the ability to work independently.
  • As well as boosting graduate employability, the other major advantages of TNE, according to stakeholders, are international exposure, cost effectiveness, and improving proficiency in English. In all 3 Phases of the Study, respondents, both via survey questionnaires and focus group discussions or interviews reiterated the important of English language competencies in building graduate confidence.
  • The study's findings are considered significant, given that, according to research, the unemployment rate of fresh graduates in Malaysia, six months post completion of their degree is in the range of 25-30 per cent.

Key quotes

“We have to build capacity and skillset across the whole of society if we want to combat this huge issue of climate change…Collaboration will be the key to all of this, because without that collaboration we don't have a chance of meeting any of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Professor Sayed Azam-Ali, Crops for the Future. International Research for Sustainable Development.

“We can no longer do work in laboratories and hope that it might be used somewhere down the line. We need to start with the market, because without the market we cannot demand support. We need to establish where the need for research is, and how we fulfil that need.” Professor Sayed Azam-Ali, Crops for the Future. International Research for Sustainable Development.

“Academics are certainly motivated by money and publications. So Governments and funding agencies working together to put money into Sustainable Development Goal activity will certainly help. You need funding, but you also need practitioners and academics with passion.” Professor Graham Kendall, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. International Research for Sustainable Development.

“Everything is in its context. Global politics is constantly putting people off-course. You're going to have noise, the unexpected, and turbulence to move through, which might be part of the skillset we need to develop.” Professor Richard Davies, Vice-Chancellor, University of Swansea. International Research for Sustainable Development.

“When building a partnership over a distance of 10,000 kilometres in countries and education systems with different cultures and quality assurance systems you have to take a long breath.  If you don’t you will just give up and fail.” Professor Dr Axel Hunger, Dean of Studies at the Faculty of Education, University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE). Student mobility experience – Malaysia truly international.

“As leaders we are not only guardians of our own institutions, we are also leaders that have to face up to the challenges arising from the fact that uncertainty is just there and going to be there continuously. So we need to look for new ways of working, new ways of inspiring people in our organisations and the partners we work with.” Professor Richard A. Williams OBE, Vice-Chancellor, Heriot-Watt University, UK. New challenges for international leadership in higher education.

“I don't think education should be seen as a commodity and universities as businesses. Students are learners, not customers. We have a global responsibility to make education accessible to everyone. Yinbo Yu, International Students’ Officer for the UK’s National Union of Students. Global education, local impact: shaping a future world.

“Even if you go overseas to study you are going to go back home and that is where the impact can be made on your home country and community. When students go into Higher Education, what they study may not be what they'll do for rest of their life. There's a need for HE to create space for up-skilling and re-skilling.” Syzana Ebil, Education Officer, Institute of Brunei Technical Education. Global education, local impact: shaping a future world.

“Students today are definitely a lot more adaptable, but I'm not sure they're more resilient. We have more than we had 50 or 60 years ago… that may affect our resilience” Dr Abhi Veerakumarisivam, Chair, Young Scientists Network, Malaysia. Global education, local impact: shaping a future world.

“This conference has highlighted the importance of knowledge – not only the development of knowledge, but working with knowledge, connecting knowledge into society. We have looked at digital and technological revolutions, and how they penetrate society in increasingly complex ways. These themes, and the higher order of learning around these themes in ASEAN present us with new challenges on how we communicate learning within and across society, and within and across an increasingly digital society. These themes we will take from ASEAN back to our discussions in informing Going Global 2019.” Professor Jo Beall, the British Council’s Director of Education and Society. Global education, local impact: shaping a future world.