Key points from research launched/debated today:
TOWN AND GOWN UNITED CAN REACH OUT TO THE WORLD
The “ivory tower” is a tired label that fails to capture the complex and deep relationship between universities and the cities where they are based, according to a British Council study (from Mutual influence: Universities, cities and the future of internationalisation, launched and debated in the session Internationalising Cities: Mutual influence?).
Universities can work effectively with cities to build on their mutual strengths and identities and reach out to the world through a strategic internationalism, the analysis of four medium sized European cities concludes. But effective internationalisation is not inevitable and needs work to find and nurture the areas where collaboration can be most effective.
Although cities can learn much from one another, models for collaboration should be developed locally by university and city leaders rather than imported from “best practice”, says a report on the findings. The make-up of institutions and priorities will differ markedly from one city to another.
Each of the four cities featured in the report – Amsterdam, Hannover, Dublin and Glasgow - has built a model of working together with universities that is tailored to the nature of the place and environment in which they are based. Though they differ, there are certain factors that have helped progress, such as a dedicated member of staff in the city office to coordinate relations with universities or an informal network of key figures to co-ordinate activity.
Cities should recognise the diverse characters and strengths of their universities, while universities should work together to co-ordinate conversations with City Hall rather than working in isolation, the report suggests. Where there is little or no existing mechanism for university-city collaboration, the British Council may wish to convene an initial meeting and play and active role in promoting links, it says.
While internationalisation activity can be broad in scope, it should be strategic and practical in focus. This means city and university planners should leverage local strengths, including those of industry, and address shared infrastructure bottlenecks such as transport or housing, at the same time as being acutely aware of international positioning.
Effective international activity can lead to increased competitiveness and connectivity. As internationalisation becomes further integrated into broader strategies, university and city leaders should consider long-term internationalisation planning.
Identifying and understanding areas of overlap is important for effective university-city cooperation. There are areas of mutual influence, such as marketing; there are areas of mutual dependence, such as housing; and there are often opportunities to work together on other strategic issues that make the most of local strengths.
Amsterdam has several focused but interdependent organisations looking at attracting companies and skill workers, marketing and economic growth with the slogan Open Amsterdam, plus the Amsterdam Strategy for International Talent. The University of Amsterdam is collecting information on the international work of its researchers, brokering new connections. Amsterdam Economic Board is organising an “academy” bringing together university and business leaders to share and solve issues.
Hannover draws upon a history of town twinning as a form of ‘municipal foreign policy’ and also its success at holding events such as the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology. The city is selling itself on its liveability and clusters of excellence in teaching and research.
Dublin City University and Dublin City Council co-organise public lectures by diplomats and other international guests. Trinity College Dublin has built links with the city council’s Greening the City initiative and University College Dublin has “Global Centres” across the world and works with partners and alumni to boost the city’s global links. The focus for collaboration is Smart Dublin, promoting it as a smart city piloting new technologies.
Glasgow is positioning itself as a cultural powerhouse and will develop and brand the city’s Renfrew Street as a cultural hotspot, home to the Conservatoire and Glasgow School of Art. Higher and further education is one of eight key sectors identified in Glasgow’s economic strategy and a marketing group set up by the City Marketing Bureau brings together university and college senior staff.
Key quotes from Day 3 sessions:
“There’s a shift we have to make from the old way of saying that this has to be decided at the central level at places like UNESCO, and empower universities to do more, better and faster.” - Dr Helena Barroco, Diplomatic Adviser, Global Platform for Syrian Students, Portugal (Univer-cities of Sanctuary)
“Language is not just a matter of words. Language is a culture. We try to instil the cultural dimension that accompanies any language in the world, and encourage students to ‘live English, not just learn English’.” - Subhe Mustafa, Syria-Turkey Country Manager, SPARK (Univer-cities of Sanctuary)
“There are no equitable HE systems in the world. There are just more or less inequitable ones.” - Dr Graeme Atherton, Director, National Education Opportunities Network (NEON), UK (World Access To Higher Education Day)
“Access is a matter of equity, and it’s also a matter of integrity. In quite a few countries, you can buy yourself into a university. In a number of places, the road to university is not at all a fair one. By many it’s seen as a supermarket. If you bring your money you’re entitled to buy whatever is available in the shop.” - Dr Sijbolt Noorda, President, Magna Charta Observatory, Italy (World Access To Higher Education Day)
“If you look at websites of universities worldwide, many of them pretend to be world class. I want to start a movement where you can earn that label by widening access, not by limiting yourself to elites. Let’s re-frame the reasons why you earn the title of world class.” - Dr Sijbolt Noorda, President, Magna Charta Observatory, Italy (World Access To Higher Education Day)
“The positive side of digital is very critical in connecting us. We have so many means today of connecting. The question is: how we can connect so it will not create a digital divide?” - Dr Pichet Durongkaveroj, Minister of Digital Economy and Society, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, Thailand (Connecting (second) Cities Across ASEAN Through HE)
“We need to offer something relevant in the context of what we are doing now, not just creating graduates but also building something relevant to our socio-economic scenario.” - The Honourable Tan Sri Dr. Noorul Ainur Mohd. Nur, Secretary General, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia (Connecting (second) Cities Across ASEAN Through HE)
“In higher education we always tend to say what are we good at when instead we should say what are we good for – what do we do to give something back to the place where we are located?” - Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones, Director, Newcastle City Futures, Newcastle University, UK (Forecasting city futures: a university challenge)
“There is a lot of talk about smart cities. But let’s make them smart and socially inclusive, using technology in a way that is meaningful and visible for citizens.” - Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones, Director, Newcastle City Futures, Newcastle University, UK (Forecasting city futures: a university challenge)
“The world is getting more complex, but our minds are not developing to match the complexity… If universities leave this to chance without equipping our young people to develop their minds to cope with the future then I don’t think we have done our job properly.” - H.E. Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Minister of Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand (Forecasting city futures: a university challenge)
“Only 2% of students are internationally mobile, but through programme mobility there is an opportunity to reach the other 98%... TNE has widened access because it is a much more cost effective way to participate.” - Dr Janet Ilieva, Founder and Director, Education Insight, UK (Global collaboration: research, TNE, and mobility)
“We need to be very careful that we don’t continue to be perceived as the elite and benefitting from the global economy at the expense of those who don’t.” - Shirley Atkinson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sunderland, UK (Social good: academic rhetoric or business reality?)
“Of course I still have staff in our organisation that say ‘I am not quite sure why we are working in Dubai’ , people who are not wholly on message, but actually it is deeply affecting our culture, how the students think and how they learn. The effect of having students from Dubai and Malaysia visiting Edinburgh is massive, they really improve the learning outcomes of the whole class. Some of our best performing students are those who have been transferring because it gives them confidence, the ability to talk to others, to network. It gets them thinking about their mindfulness and their resilience.” - Professor Richard Williams, vice-chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. (Global students: the lifeblood of cities)
“How do we measure the outcomes of internationalism? We measure employment. The data tells us that our students who gain inter-cultural competence through undertaking international activities do better in employment .” - Professor Alec Cameron, Vice chancellor and chief executive Aston University, UK. (Global students: the lifeblood of cities)
“One of the main aims of setting up the Cultural Institute was to develop pioneering, inter-disciplinary research into some of our global challenges. The university was very keen to bring artists into relationships with researchers. For example, we have been pairing colleagues from the biological sciences, chemistry and cancer research with theatre practitioners in the city and that has had a fantastic impact. Researchers say it has transformed the way they think and approach their work and practitioners say it has provided very valuable material for their new productions.” - Sue Hayton, associate director, Cultural Institute, University of Leeds, UK. (Reimagining the city: arts in the public realm)
“Aggregate data points for the whole of China don’t help. There are parts that are highly developed with the service economy roaring ahead with a greater capacity for private sector led innovation and other parts that remain reasonable labour cost economies. We are talking about multiple economies simultaneously among the land mass which is China.” Patrick Horgan, regional director, North East Asia, Rolls Royce, China. (The eastward innovation shift: China’s triple helix)
“The number of Chinese universities entering the top 100 globally is on the rise and will continue to rise for a considerable length of time but it’s not just the ranking that matters but also the style of education and the activities and skills that the graduates acquire because there are significant differences between the style of Chinese education and that we have here in the UK. It is in our corporate interest to hire people from Chinese universities and have them working with people who have done a Bachelors or a PhD at a UK university. For PhD recruitment our top three favourites are Imperial, Cambridge and Manchester. We have been very successful in recruiting people back into China after they have completed an excellent education in the UK. - Michael Hill-King, Collaboration Director, Huawei, UK (The eastward innovation shift: China’s triple helix)
“It’s incumbent on the university to engage with social challenges in the city. We need to think about how to marry civic engagement with local engagement and the society in which universities are located, alongside the ambition of the university to be global, and indeed for the city to be global. There are no easy answers.” - Jo Beall, Director of Education and Society, British Council. (Global urbanisation: town vs. gown)
“Too often in the past the relationship between universities and cities has been one of the university ‘bee’ constructing the urban honeycomb rather than being actively engaged in the conversation as architects of the city. They should be critical friends not handmaidens for city authorities.” - Dr Jean-Paul Addie, Marie Curie Research Fellow - Department of Geography, University College London, UK (Global urbanisation: town vs. gown)