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British Council London event examines the role of cities in global HE

Higher education leaders from across the globe are gathering in London this week to attend the British Council’s Going Global flagship international higher education conference, the first since the Brexit vote.   

Around 80 UK universities are due to be represented at the three day event, starting on Monday 22 May, which is expected to attract approaching 1,000 delegates from 70 countries, including university presidents and senior officials, academics, government ministers and politicians, local government leaders and representatives of think tanks and global businesses. Media FHE will be providing official daily conference briefings from the event (more details below).

The conference has grown from its initial launch in 2004 to a major date in the international higher education calendar, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and networking events.  This year’s theme is the global challenges of urbanisation and the relationship between cities – which are home to half the world’s seven billion people – and universities. Sessions will cover a wide range of issues, from the impact of “post-truth” thinking on internationalisation to cultural clashes on campus and conflict over efforts to create “safe spaces” for students. 

World expert on sustainable development Aromar Revi will open the conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster on Monday with a keynote speech on the important role that universities can play in making cities more inclusive places where no one person or location is left behind. Revi directs the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and leads the United Nation’s group on sustainable cities.

On Tuesday the global university rankings will provide new insights into the world’s existing and emerging knowledge hubs and the role that world class universities play in driving knowledge economies in cities.  University vice-chancellors from the UK, Malaysia, South Africa, Pakistan, Hong Kong and Tokyo will lead a forum on the growth of megacities – those with populations greater than 10 million.  From just three megacities in 1976 the number has grown to more than 30 that are now home to seven per cent of the world’s population.

The University of Nottingham, with campuses in both China and Malaysia, leads a flagship session on Wednesday exploring collaboration between regional blocs of countries.  Chaired by Nottingham VC, Professor David Greenaway, the event will hear from government ministers including Dr Mary Yap Kain Ching, deputy minister of higher education in Malaysia, Dr Pichet Durongkaveroj, minister of digital economy in Thailand and H.E. Vongthep Arthakalvalvatee, deputy general secretary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  

The 10 ASEAN countries include large cities such as Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta and the next phase is to accelerate investment in secondary cities, the conference will hear.  Speakers will explore how the mobility of staff and students can support integration and connectivity between countries and foster strong regional identity.


Media FHE, which provides the leading higher education intelligence service HEi-know, is once again providing official daily conference briefings from the event. These will be available on the Going Global website from around 11am on Tuesday 23 May. We are also making a special offer for individual trials of HEi-know to selected Going Global delegates.

















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