Rethinking university strategies for global engagement: insights from the UK

In the UK, as elsewhere, 2020 was a year of fire-fighting and crisis management in the higher education sector. As we slowly regain the bandwidth to consider future plans, what role will global engagement play in post-pandemic strategies? How will this build on what went before? And what will need to be different as institutions seek to find their place within a much-altered global higher education landscape?

These are questions which Vicky Lewis Consulting tried to address through research conducted in late 2020 and early 2021, which has now been published in the form of a report for the HE sector: UK Universities Global Engagement Strategies: time for a rethink?

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The Asian universities working together to solve challenges in higher education

“In a highly globalised world, a country or region can rarely develop in isolation”

Over the last few years, we have observed some important trends that have already been changing the global landscape of higher education. Asian universities have accelerated in their development and started to enjoy a greater presence among the top global universities.

Being a network of prominent universities in the region, the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) has the potential to lead intellectual scholarship and scientific discovery, pulling together the best minds from member institutions, each with their own expertise to contribute to joint initiatives. Arman Zhumazhanov of Nazarbayev University discusses the work of the regional university network.

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Addressing needs through personalised learning pathways

“Successful online programs will be the ones that allow students to take charge of their own learning”

Just over a year on from the first UK lockdown, we have collectively learned quite a lot about the resilience of our education system. Like many industries, higher education faced a unique set of challenges throughout the pandemic, particularly as institutions navigated new methods of learning and assessment.

This accelerated digital transformation initiatives across our universities, with lecturers embracing online learning to ensure educational continuity for students. Stewart Watts, vice president EMEA at D2L, explains.

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Creating sustainable humanitarian projects that last beyond graduation

“We want to help improve the dignity of the living conditions for refugees by supporting more programs”

Increasing numbers of young people at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands start to work on projects aiming to make the world a better place and deal with our scarce resources in a more sustainable way, says the institution’s Désirée van Gorp, professor of international business.

I work with at least 60 students every year who start their own projects, but unfortunately by the time their MBA or master’s is finished, these and many more projects often disappear left unfinished.

We started thinking about how we could create a community of students and alumni that would keep working on societal centric projects as a continuation of all the great work being done during our students’ degree programs. This is what we came up with.

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What could and should replace the IGCSE and GCSE?

“Students don’t currently have the soft skills needed to prepare them for the workplace”

It looks increasingly likely that a new system of post qualification offers from universities will replace the current system of offers being made before IB/BTEC and A Level results are announced.

This change inevitably raises the question about the value and current content of GCSEs and IGCSEs. If they are no longer needed to inform a university offer, are they still fit for purpose? Pat Moores of UK Education Guide looks at the options.

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The new international university aiming to promote women in STEM

“Through my work, I hope I can create opportunities for women”

Like many countries in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe, Georgia has conservative socio-cultural norms and gender stereotypes. Change comes slowly in this environment, but we have made significant progress in creating a more enabling environment for gender integration and equality in recent years.

There are no longer any legislative barriers to gender equality in Georgia, but the statistics for school enrolment reveal cultural mindsets that maintain the status quo.

There is parity in enrolment rates among boys and girls at primary and secondary school levels but gender norms and prejudices kick in strongly after school. Kutaisi International University (KIU) Chancellor Magda Magradze explains.

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Will online education outlast the Covid pandemic?

“Workplaces are changing, and the classroom is starting to catch up.”

Whisper it quietly, “there might be an end in sight”.

Increasingly, as I walk along the streets of London, I can see a sense of relief, even happiness, on the faces of those I encounter. It might be that the UK vaccination campaign, that was as ambitious as it has been impressive, is finally bringing the Covid pandemic towards its conclusion. In the summer months Boris Johnson has indicated that we might be able to return to pubs, clubs and hairdressers.

But if Zoom socials are on the way out, what does that mean for online education? Libra Education CEO Oscar Hardy explains.

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Designing learning experiences for Generation Z

“They understand the need for a practical and marketable skill set”

Gen Z was born between 1997 and the early 2010s and are now in high school, university, or looking for their first job. They grew up during the 2008 recession. Their older friends entered the workforce juggling a few part time roles serving the needs of the on-demand economy.

The last year has seen Gen Z’s time at high school, university or their first job disturbed by the global pandemic. Potentially there is also a post-pandemic recession brewing which will further affect their future career opportunities.

In order to tap into their interest in online education and cater to their needs, learning needs to meet three criteria: be affordable, mobile-first and help them future-proof their careers. Hanna Celina, director of insights at FutureLearn.com, explains.

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The US university still sending students on study abroad

“Students seem excited, even if the experience will look different”

Many people were looking forward to 2021, hoping to travel freely and without concern over health and safety. While widespread travel may not be the case just yet, a handful of universities are allowing for limited student travel.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) is just one of these universities. In a normal year, UTK would send a couple hundred students abroad per semester. This semester, their Center for Global Engagement was able to send dozens of students to a small number of destinations including Ireland, Poland and South Korea.

Anne Hulse, Interim Director of the Center for Global Engagement’s Programs Abroad Office said that many factors were at play when deciding whether or not they would allow students to travel. Terra Dotta’s Emily Robinson explains.

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The campaign trying to make subtitles the default for kids’ TV

“If you suddenly found subtitles on your children’s Netflix account last year – that wasn’t a coincidence”

This story starts back in 2019, when Henry Warren had a conversation with Oli Barrett over coffee about a news article that Oli had read on how turning on subtitles on children’s TV content had a dramatic positive impact on their reading proficiency, writes Nina Hale from the Turn On The Subtitles campaign. 

Slightly sceptical but intrigued, the two sought out the academic who had conducted the study and took his research, along with a mountain of similar studies, to The National Literacy Trust to review.

Once validated, they set off on a quest to make sure this information reached every household with young children.

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