Opening plenary welcome address by Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council

Day 1, 22nd May 2017

Session Resources

View videos, podcasts, powerpoint slides and more from each session via the session pages.

Pictues

Why not look through photographs from the conference via our Going Global Flickr page.

Key highlights

  • The music department at SOAS, University of London, created and performed “The world in London”.
  • As the sun re-appeared across London after days of rain, Rob Lynes, the British Council’s UK Regional Director, said he was very proud to welcome delegates to “this sunny, vibrant metropolis which is called London”.  London is a truly international city where 300 languages are spoken and where 100,000 international students choose to come and study, he said.  “London in many ways captures this era of urbanisation and globalisation". 
  • Welcoming delegates from more than 350 institutions across the world, Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council, said he didn’t think there was a more important room of people on the planet, more important perhaps even than the meeting of 40 world leaders in the Gulf.  “The future of the planet is in the future of people like us, people who have the future of our young people in our hands,” he said. 
  • Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and Vice-President of Universities UK, encouraged delegates who are in search of solutions to challenges to share them with others from across the globe.
  • Aromar Revi, Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, gave a wide-ranging speech highlighting the development of cities around universities, the historical spread of higher education institutions, and more recent shifts in the geographical location of the most significant knowledge hubs.
  • At a welcome reception held at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London, British Council Chair Christopher Rodrigues CBE said he hoped Going Global 2017 would “give light and space to some of the biggest questions facing us as teachers, learners and citizens”.
  • Delegates at the welcome reception were entertained and engaged by an AnyTimePlaceWhere installation exploring the use of mobile phones in contemporary life, provided by The University of Worcester Drama Department, in collaboration with C&T (Arts Council National Portfolio).

Key points arising from sessions:

This year’s Going Global will be focussing on the opportunities and potential that the dynamic relationship between cities and universities can generate as well as the broader issues and challenges the sector faces internationally, said Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council. They will include where people live, what powers economies and how information travels between people, institutions and places plus the nature and location of innovation. Delegates will also consider how to maintain education in conflict areas and the city as a place of sanctuary for the displaced, plus the “age old tension” between Town and Gown. (Opening plenary)

One of the challenges facing leaders of higher education institutions is to “persuade our communities that a university is not an ivory tower, but a place where all with a desire to learn and improve their life chances are made to feel welcome,” said Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and Vice-President of Universities UK (Opening plenary)

One of the ways in which UK universities have contributed most substantially to other higher education systems around the world has been through transnational education; there are only 15 countries in the world with no access to UK university transnational education, and almost 700,000 students registered on UK university programmes overseas. Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and Vice-President of Universities UK (Opening plenary)

The present urban global age provides tertiary institutions with unprecedented opportunities to mobilise their expertise to prepare people for the future and to drive forward research and policy agendas at a city, national and international level, said Rob Lynes, British Council UK Regional Director (Opening plenary)

As recently as three or four years ago, when the United Nations was discussing sustainability, many people didn’t think that cities were important to sustainable development. That view has now changed. Aromar Revi, Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (Opening plenary)

In most parts of the world universities are in cities because the culture and knowledge that the university represents shifts with cities and shapes the culture and questions that we engage with as academics, learners and teachers.  - Aromar Revi, Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (Opening plenary)

With an estimated half of the world’s population living in cities, and the other half outside of cities, universities and city dwellers have the dual challenge of making sure that the quality of service and the opportunities available within cities are not leaving half the population behind, warned British Council Chair Christopher Rodrigues (Welcome reception)

Key quotes from Day 1 sessions:

“We do not have to choose between the local, the national, and the global. Nor can we, in a world in which global cooperation is not an option, but a necessity, and where the local and the global are irrevocably intertwined.”  - Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and Vice-President of Universities UK (Opening plenary)

“Why do we come to this conference, to Going Global? I think many of us in the university sector come looking for answers to our problems, solutions to our challenges … The answers are more likely to come when we are able to share our latest conundrum not only with our immediate neighbours, but also with colleagues facing quite different challenges, perhaps from a university many thousands of miles away.” - Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and Vice-President of Universities UK (Opening plenary)

“Cities are places where innovation happens, where people live, and what powers economies.  The city is also a place of sanctuary for people who are displaced.” - Sir Ciarán Devane, the Chief Executive of the British Council (Opening plenary)

“Without the agency of educated citizens in an increasingly contested and fractured 21st century there may not be either sustainability or inclusive development which means we will not have sustainable development.” - Aromar Revi, Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and co-chair of UNSDSN (Opening plenary)

“You can burn down cities, you can burn down universities, you can burn down books but the great thing about great universities and great cities is that they always come back.” - Aromar Revi, the Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and co-chair of UNSDSN. (Opening plenary)

“We need to find new forms of urbanism that do not always depend on ideas that have come from the West.”  - Aromar Revi, the Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and co-chair of UNSDSN (Opening plenary)

“The economic multiplier effects of education are stupendous, and governments ignore that at their peril.” - British Council Chair Christopher Rodrigues (Welcome reception)

“Whether it’s as drivers of national economies, or intellectual hubs and agents of social change, cities, and megacities, have never been the focus of more thought and research. Cities are indeed laboratories for universities that find themselves at the centre of those cities.” - British Council Chair Christopher Rodrigues (Welcome reception)

“I would like to encourage you to look forward, seize the narrative, and make sure that we collectively are catalysts for the future and not just moralists for the past.” - British Council Chair Christopher Rodrigues (Welcome reception)

Opening plenary address by Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and Vice-President of Universities UK.

See also the keynote speech by Aromar Revi, Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.