Nottingham Global - Vice-Chancellor's blog
I had the privilege of joining colleagues and educational leaders from around the world at the recent British Council ‘Going Global’ conference in Kuala Lumpur. This was the culmination of an intensive series of activities to highlight our global research strengths and teaching excellence across our UK, China and Malaysia campuses.
‘Going Global’ was an ideal opportunity to showcase our Malaysian campus and it followed a week of events in the UK, including a lively Malaysia day in Nottingham and high level policy dialogues in London. All this took place against the backdrop of the Windrush scandal, the resignation of Amber Rudd as Home Secretary and a reigniting of Brexit tensions around immigration. This has led me to reflect further on where we should be going as a global university in a world where the benefits of globalisation are being called into question.
Over the last few weeks, I have spent considerable time with colleagues, alumni, policymakers and senior embassy and consulate officials in the UK, Malaysia and China, as well as participating in both the annual Universitas 21 conference in Melbourne and the celebration of a successful 20 years of 2+2 Engineering degrees with Thammasat University in Bangkok. The University’s Executive Board held an away day at Lakeside focused solely on global engagement, with Professor Simon Marginson, Professor of Global Higher Education Policy at UCL, acting as both provocateur and critical friend.
Reflecting on these stimulating exchanges, I would like to make some observations. The University of Nottingham is respected throughout the world for its globally-facing values and the foresight we had in establishing overseas campuses when this phenomenon was untested. In the current climate, it is more important than ever that we build on that reputation and find the right way to evolve our global thinking. Our international university and industry partners are of the highest quality; our alumni are making significant contributions to society in all walks of life throughout the world; employers welcome and recognise the additionality that this global experience provides for our students.
However, when talking about what global means for us, we tend to default to the proxy of the China and Malaysia campuses. While these are fundamental to our reputation and success, global Nottingham is also about the mobility of students and staff, international research collaboration and co-authorship, open access/open data and delivering in-country CPD and transnational education. It is also about life on campus in the UK, such as our Students’ Union global buddies scheme, the exposure of UK students to international cultural events, the diversity of our staff and how we embed global thinking into our curricula.
With this broader set of frameworks in mind, I would like us to see us move forward on a number of initiatives:
- tri-campus working groups are now set up and will invite programme leaders and others engaged with tri-campus affairs to create a framework that allows for both global programmes and differentiation of programmes across the campuses when that is most appropriate, while retaining the rigour of our academic quality assurance framework.
- reviewing and revising our global engagement governance, to harness ‘bottom up’ initiatives throughout the University, working with a new Global Engagement Committee that will draw its membership from specialists across our UK, China and Malaysian campuses.
- considering how to build stronger partnerships in parts of the world where we have additional opportunities, for example, in North America, Australia, ASEAN, India and Africa.
- working more closely with research leaders in Faculties and Schools to consider barriers and solutions to further international collaboration and co-authorship as part of research planning and development.
- increasing our numbers of international students and creating a more diverse portfolio of global mobility opportunities for all students, including short courses, joint PhDs with other world class universities, better use of video-conferencing and Moodle to share teaching across the three campuses, and creating imaginative on-campus opportunities for those who are unable to travel.
- encouraging more UK-based staff to visit the China and Malaysia campuses and vice versa, for short periods of time, to exchange ideas with colleagues, deliver masterclasses or lectures and participate in research seminars.
The culture that has been unleashed by Brexit is suspicious of both expertise and of globalisation. We are living in a social media age that has made us both more global and more tribal, as we readily connect internationally, but are more likely to seek those who share our views, rather than those who will challenge.
All of this makes it even more important that the University of Nottingham evolves its global outlook in a way that continues to embrace the insights and open-mindedness that global thinking can provide, but is both inclusive and sensitive to the complex society in which we live. I look forward to discussing these ideas with many of you over the coming months.
Professor Shearer West
14 May 2018