Thursday 3 May 2018, 11.30 - 12.30

Tertiary institutions answer to a multitude of stakeholders balancing increasingly complex, and often conflicting agendas. The tensions between delivering global and national agendas can be significant. While universities and colleges extend their global reach and ambition, pressure to deliver local benefit grows. In many countries, government targets drive institutions to perform better in global rankings. At the same time, they urge them to play increasingly pivotal roles in countries’ societal and economic development.

As pressure on tertiary education funding grows, how realistic is it for institutions to deliver both global and local agendas? Are these agendas mutually exclusive or can they be mutually beneficial? Can institutions’ global activities benefit their contribution to national aims and local communities – and vice versa?

Panellists from governments and institutions give their perspectives. They explore key tensions between global and local drivers and consider the extent to which institutions’ global activities either detract from or support their contribution to local societal and economic development.

Key questions include:

  • What are the current key expectations that governments and institutions have of each other?
  • Are there conflicts inherent in governments expectations and what impact does this have in institutions? Do government demands for global research “excellence”, low student dropout rates and focus on subjects of national importance mean that institutions’ activities in developing local economies and communities are being “crowded out”?
  • Is it really possible for institutions to balance their global and local priorities or are they just doing too much to achieve anything substantial in either area?
  • While international student/staff mobility responds to government and institutions’ agendas, isn’t this, in effect, taking vital human capital out of local regions and communities?
  • With funding stretched, is global tertiary education simply diverting priorities from developing local society/communities? Is global HE a luxury that only the wealthiest countries and institutions can afford? Or is it making a real contribution and should we all seek to afford it?


  • Professor Jo Beall, Director – Education and Society and Executive Board Member, British Council, UK (Chair)
  • Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Former Chairman, Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan
  • Professor Ahmed Bawa, Chief Executive Officer, Universities South Africa, South Africa
  • Professor Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • His Excellency Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Minister of Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand