Enabling unis to thrive in a shifting global environment

Universities UK will be running its sixth annual International Higher Education Forum on 14 March, at Nottingham Conference Centre

The UK is home to 436,000 international students and 55,000 international staff. That’s one in six of our students and 25% of university staff. 

International staff and students are vital to our universities and boost the UK economy – bringing growth and jobs across the country. Furthermore, according to government analysis, people that studied here are 18% more likely to trade with us.

But, there are so many benefits beyond the economics. Our classrooms and campuses are a wonderful mix of local, national and international students, each bringing different perspectives and ideas.

Home students receive an international education when some of their lecturers and peers come from all over the world. Campuses are enriched with cultural diversity and are made more vibrant from international staff and students. 

The story of UK universities over the last 20 years is a story of increasing internationalisation. And it’s not just a narrative based on inbound international student recruitment, it’s evident in activities at home and abroad: delivery of education overseas (transnational education); widening work/study/volunteer abroad programmes for home students; internationalisation of curricula; international collaborative research projects and international research funding sources; international partnerships; and joint programmes.

Of course these are increasingly pressurised times for universities. They are dealing with increasing international competition, geopolitical uncertainty, and pressure to prove to the worth of this internationalisation to their home communities.

With this in mind, Universities UK will be running its sixth annual International Higher Education Forum on 14 March at Nottingham Conference Centre. The event aims to equip universities with the strategies they need to thrive in the current shifting global environment. 

The event will host speakers from Japan, Switzerland, Brazil and Hong Kong to provide international perspectives as well as experienced professionals from across the UK. 

Sessions will cover the full breadth of university internationalisation, organised into four categories: research funding and collaboration; inbound and outbound student mobility; international strategy development; and internationalisation for small and specialist institutions.

As part of the strategy stream the conference has a focus on transnational education (TNE). The UK has had great success delivering education overseas. This TNE is offered by 82% of UK universities and provision is available in all but 15 of the world’s countries. The growth in the past 10 years has been considerable and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. This is an area in which universities are placing greater importance and is an exciting area to explore. There are new opportunities on the horizon for universities to provide education in new markets and partner with institutions all over the world. 

The Forum will host a session on the future of transnational education. Speakers will include Dr Paul Inman, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of Technology, Design and Environment at Oxford Brookes University, which has the most TNE students of any UK higher education institution. Carolyn Campbell, Senior Consultant at the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, will chair.

The session will map out current TNE trends – where are the hotspots? Which courses are the most popular? The panel will also discuss the different types of provision, from online delivery to developing specialist branch campuses. The discussion will look to the future and explore ideas of how TNE provision may develop and how institutions can develop and manage successful partnerships with universities. 

UK universities have been welcoming international scholars since the 1100s. We’ve endured world wars, financial crashes, massive geo-political shifts. Events like the International Higher Education Forum provide colleagues the chance to share their worries, concerns, ideas and inspiration for the future. It allows institutions to band together and feel confident that, no matter what, the UK’s higher education sector will remain welcoming and international. 

The Forum is run by Universities UK – the voice of universities, helping to maintain the world-leading strength of the UK university sector and supporting its members to achieve their aims and objectives. The event attracts over 400 senior delegates and is likely to sell out. Tickets for the event are on sale at www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/events


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