This conference is our attempt to bring colleagues from pretty much every university in the UK together to talk about the big issues in the sphere of international higher education and research. This year our focus is on national and institutional strategy development.
In the morning plenary, we will hear from university leaders from Japan, the US, Canada, Switzerland and from the Association of Pacific Rim Universities about how national strategies can or should support their institutional ambitions. We know that many other countries have quite clear goals for international student recruitment; outward mobility and research collaboration. We want to know how these strategies work in practice, and what we can learn from them in the UK. The session, chaired by Phil Baty, will also feature the launch of the Times Higher Education's list of the World's Most International Universities.
The closing plenary will draw the focus back to the UK. What could we learn from our international counterparts and what should the UK be trying to achieve? Is there space for a new national strategy for higher education and research in the UK? What of the £30bn education export target? How can we recover ground lost over the last few years, with or without a better visa offer? We will hear from UUK President Dame Janet Beer; British Council CEO Sir Ciaran Devane; Sharon Ellis, Director of International Science and Innovation at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and NESTA CEO Geoff Mulgan about what they think the UK should be trying to achieve at national level – and how universities, government and business could work together more effectively to set and achieve national ambitions.
Sandwiched between these plenary sessions will be a series of themed breakouts. Here we aim to create space for universities to learn from each other, and from international guests. In one session, for instance, we’ll hear about the way that New Zealand introduced policy measures to attract international postgraduate research students to boost the performance of their research system; and from two UK pro-vice-chancellors about the role postgraduate research students play in their own institutional research strategies.
Another session will draw together examples of the action taken by a number of UK universities to support refugees. This year, building on last year’s experiment, we have designed a series of sessions specifically with small and specialist institutions in mind, with discussions about boosting outward mobility; transnational education and research collaboration led by speakers who are themselves from small or specialist institutions.
But more than anything, come for the networking opportunity. Last year we had over 400 participants from vice chancellors and pro vice chancellors through to mobility co-ordinators and international officers from almost every UK university. This year we have more opportunities than ever before to network with international guests including a session with the Vice President and Secretary General of the Japanese Association of National Universities.
For me, the conference is a great way to keep our fingers on the wires, and to understand the challenges institutions face, as well as learn about some of the clever things universities are doing to thrive in this frequently shifting environment. I hope you will join us.