In April, UEB approved the Global Engagement Strategic Delivery Plan (GE SDP) following a comprehensive tri-campus stakeholder engagement and development process. Publication of this SDP is an opportunity for us to refresh and refocus our global engagement activities and ambition as we look to the next decade and beyond.
A decade ago, we had the distinction of being described as “Britain’s first truly global university” (the Times in 2012). Being global is now part of what we are as one university with campuses in three countries, the UK, Malaysia, and China. We now need to go further and be recognised across the world as the UK’s foremost global university not only in terms of our reach and impact but also with respect to the experience of all of our community – both staff and students.
The local and global context over the past year has brought unprecedented change in higher education delivery and internationalisation in a manner we would not have imagined. However, we as a University have remained globally engaged both from a research and education perspective. The many lessons we have learnt have contributed to shaping and revitalising our global engagement activities for the post-Brexit and post-pandemic period ahead.
The priorities in the GE SDP are aimed at not only enabling a step-change in our ability to deepen our exceptional international research and teaching partnerships - aimed at maximising our research impact and education offer - but also at promoting a global mindset amongst staff and students across our campuses. For Nottingham, this means campus experiences that enable staff and students to have an awareness and openness to diversity across cultures, being able to demonstrate flexibility, emotional intelligence with strong intellectual ability in their studies, work, or interactions. This will require that, in addition to all of the things we already do, we move beyond physical mobility in defining the Nottingham international/global perspective.
These considerations are reflected in the first five top-level strategic priorities in the SDP, namely to:
- Provide an international experience for everyone.
- Deepen our international research and teaching partnerships.
- Refine our curricula in light of new global demands.
- Provide appropriate mobility (both physical and virtual) opportunities for staff and students.
- Create an on-campus culture of positive interaction among people from different parts of the world.
The SDP is predicated on two key considerations; (i) being globally engaged in a productive and sustainable manner is an essential and key aspect of being a successful university, (ii) global engagement activities and awareness of global engagement should permeate, and be embedded, in all of our University operations – from senior university management to faculties, schools and professional service departments. I firmly believe that internationalisation of higher education is not an end in its own right but rather the gainful pursuant of core university activity (Education and Student Experience, Research and Knowledge Exchange) through a global lens. In my experience, the most productive and sustainable internationalisation efforts are those that grow bottom-up from the efforts of locally connected individuals (or small groups) with clear goals and ambitions.
This SDP aims to enhance such endeavour, and go further to create a supportive environment via global initiatives driven by a clear University-wide strategy.
As we move into the next phase of putting in place the action plans that will deliver our ambitions, I urge you all to recognise that global engagement activities will necessarily closely align to the success of other Strategic Delivery Plans, the UNNC Campus Plan, and the UNM Strategic Plan.
For this reason, the GE SDP has been developed by engaging a wide range of colleagues across faculties, professional services departments, and our international campuses. As part of this process, and to bring our global engagement activities closer to all, we relaunched the Global Engagement Newsletter and set up a new Global Engagement Hub, both of which are accessible to colleagues across our campuses. It is now possible to analyse data on our international partnerships (both teaching and research), international students, alumni, research, and knowledge exchange activity both at country and institutional level.
From a strategic standpoint, the Global Engagement Hub is a window to ensuring that the University’s approach to global engagement is driven by data and informed by a clear understanding of the return on investments across different activities. The Hub also provides toolkits, advice, and guidance to support colleagues in developing international initiatives.
To this end, we intend to establish a Nottingham Global Skills Sharing Platform as an avenue for encouraging collaboration across structural and cultural boundaries. The platform will provide guidance and best practice on several fronts, including reducing our environmental impact, improving our global performance and effectiveness across all levels. The Platform will be key to our sixth top-line strategic priority of building our reputation as Britain’s foremost global university where ambition, creativity, and a global mindset enable us to change the world for the better.
I encourage all colleagues to read the SDP and consider how they may engage with and contribute to consolidating our position as a global university. The near-term future is uncertain but there is also much to be give cause for optimism both at the national and international level as the threat from the pandemic reduces and we adjust to post-Brexit realities. This SDP recognises that global engagement remains core to our character as a university and articulates our approach to harnessing our international activities as part of our post-pandemic recovery and future success and sustainability.
Our recent change in global engagement governance and move away from an Office of Global Engagement to fully integrate operational delivery of our global activities within Professional Services Departments and Faculties/Schools across the University offers a more agile, flexible, and inclusive way of working. The Global Engagement Strategy Support Unit (GESSU) will continue to facilitate, focus, and coordinate our tri-campus global engagement ecosystem towards delivery of a coordinated approach to international activity. I will continue to work closely with the GESSU and Global Engagement Committee (GEC) to implement a strategic and operational infrastructure which embeds global engagement activity across the University and positions us to be at the frontier of internationalisation. However, much of the responsibility for operational delivery of the SDP will lie with Professional Services Departments and Faculties, where Faculty Global Engagement Leads/Directors will play a key role.
A good strategy and delivery plan rests on the actions that we put in place to deliver our ambitions. We all have a part to play in delivering on our ambition of being the UK’s foremost global university.
Professor Robert Mokaya,
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement