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Behind the HE headlines is one key question – the purpose of universities

The past week’s higher education news demonstrates that there are certain expectations of universities that policymakers, HE leaders and the Augar review are expected to address, says Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of the Engineering Professors’ Council and Chief Executive of outreach organisation Push .

30 VCs sign new Civic University Agreement

Leaders of thirty universities have signed a Civic University Agreement, reaffirming their institution's commitment to their local communities by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in their home towns and cities at the top of their list of priorities.

How to improve the student experience -- ask the students themselves

Jenny Shaw , Student Experience Director at Unite Students, draws lessons on the higher education sector's efforts to improve the student experience from a week of HE news and views.

HEi-think: Why universities should support two year degrees

From this September, students will be able to opt to study an accelerated two year degree, as opposed to a traditional three year course. Professor Malcolm Todd, Provost (Academic) at the University of Derby, discusses why universities should consider the change in legislation and look to offer accelerated degrees.

Research England names KEF pilot institutions

Research England has selected 21 English universities to take part in a pilot Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), which will run between February and May 2019.

HEi-think: Universities must plan for short, medium and long-term to navigate turbulent times

Higher education leaders must be ready to think ahead and resist the temptation to respond only to short term changes in the current turbulent policy environment, says Rachel Hewitt, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Developments in HE show the sector needs a new unity of purpose

Professor Liz Barnes, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Staffordshire, reflects on the messages arising from a week of higher education news.

Germany and Malaysia top new global HE index

Germany and Malaysia are the two countries best positioned to benefit from continuing growth in global higher education, a study has concluded.

Both are slightly ahead of the UK and Australia in the level of support they provide for international HE through policies, regulations, quality assurance, and finance, according to a new British Council index that compares 26 countries around the world.

The United States trails behind these and China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, according to the index.

The findings are contained in a report The Shape of Global Higher Education launched at Going Global, the British Council’s annual conference, being held in Africa for the first time.

Intended as a guide for policy-makers, leaders and education professionals, the study identifies the national environments most conducive for international collaboration, research, partnerships and future economic growth. The British Council described it as “the first comparative framework through which the relative strengths and weaknesses of different countries’ higher education policies can be judged”.

The 26 nations, including the UK, USA, Brazil, China, India and Russia, were each measured against 37 qualitative indicators. As part of research to develop the indicators, more than 100 pieces of legislation and national strategies were reviewed and evaluated.

The study identifies three key areas where national governments can support international higher education: openness – enabling mobility of students, researchers and academic programmes; a regulatory environment that helps mobility and programmes through quality assurance and recognition of international qualifications; and equitable access and sustainable development policies.

Australia, the UK and Germany come out top for openness and international mobility, although the UK’s main strengths in this area are drawn from international strategy and transnational education, masking “an incomplete set of policies regarding students and academic mobility”, the report says. The same three countries score highest on quality assurance and degree recognition, but the UK falls to ninth place on equitable access, which considers factors such as brain drain and displacement of students from disadvantaged and vulnerable backgrounds by international students. On this third measure, China tops the table followed by Germany and Thailand.

Bringing all three of these broad areas together, Germany and Malaysia have the highest overall scores. The report cites Malaysia’s Education Blueprint 2015-2020, which contains ambitions targets for international student recruitment and research collaborations; and Germany’s Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdeinst’s Strategy 2020, which focusses on student mobility, as examples of increasing commitment towards supporting international HE.

The study found that student mobility is one of the best developed areas of national-level policies. The majority of the countries studied have introduced student-friendly and welcoming visa policies, though a much smaller number (Australia, Germany and more recently Russia) have widened access to their labour market for international students. Quality assurance emerged as the weakest area.

To allow users to analyse the study’s data for themselves, the British Council has also produced the Global Gauge - an interactive tool designed for policy-makers which can isolate specific measures within the data, giving users the opportunity to explore the relative strengths of individual national systems.

Professor Jo Beall, Director Education and Society, British Council, says:  “There is hardly a country left unaffected by the global flows of students, teaching and research, so the value of a greater understanding of national higher education systems has never been more important. The future of higher education will depend on successful, sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships.”

 Janet Ilieva, Director, Education Insight, and report author, says: “To be relevant and active in higher education, UK institutions need to be internationally engaged – not just in terms of recruiting international students, but through collaborating with foreign partners in teaching and research projects.”

 

Follow Going Global news and events on Twitter @HEGoingGlobal #GoingGlobal2016

 

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