The independent sector educates around 6.5% of the total number of school children in the UK. There are many factors that explain why parents decide to send their children to private schools; top quality teaching, extensive track records of top grades and outstanding facilities to name a few.
However employability is not solely based on top grades but on an individual’s understanding and experience. Independent schools across the UK strive to not only provide an excellent education for their pupils but to prepare them for life after school and ultimately their career and future. This includes exposing their pupils to a global education and offering them the chance to learn from other cultures.
This is something I feel very passionate about as I have been lucky enough to have a career and personal life that has taken me all around the world. I attended Presbyterian Girls’ College in Adelaide after which I moved onto the Australian National University before studying at the University of Oxford. I have since lived in Beirut, Islamabad, Mexico, Sydney and New York. These experiences and memories have shaped who I am today and this is why it is my personal ambition to establish Bath Spa University as a leading international institution, where all of our students leave as fully fledged global citizens.
As well as meeting my husband abroad, I also forged relationships and gained contacts that still exist today and have proved vital throughout my career. I gained a greater level of cultural awareness and ultimately a confidence that can only come from exploring the world and breaking out of your comfort zones. All of these factors lead to increased employability, and it is for this reason that I wish to encourage all of our students to develop their own networks of global contacts.
In this sense, I believe the University’s vision and values are aligned with leading independent schools in the UK. These elite schools strive to offer their students opportunities that will help them become well rounded and confident adults, and an important aspect of this is exposure to other cultures and communities.
With this vision in mind, one of the initiatives I have launched since joining Bath Spa University is The Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA). This was the first collaboration of its kind and brought together a diverse range of liberal arts providers from around the world. I founded GALA to create a global community of creative people and to explore the relationship between creativity and social engagement. GALA aims to prepare our students and graduates for work in the creative industries as well as global citizenship and intercultural education.
Activities through the network include student and staff exchange visits, study abroad programmes, international work placements, virtual buddying and peer mentoring. By collaborating with established liberal arts providers across the arts and creative subjects, GALA’s partners can create extraordinary opportunities both for students and staff, in research, joint teaching and collaboration.
I believe many students in the UK are still apprehensive about studying abroad and that universities need to be alive to the needs of students once they graduate. We have a responsibility to our students to provide the broadest scope of education and equip them with the skills they need before they enter the workplace and embracing global citizenship is integral to this mission.