Favourite blogs for Charlotte's Research blog

Blogs » Knowledge Centre: Comment & Opinion

January 16, 2014

Letter from the editor (17 January 2014): M’obesity, Mo’ problems

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/health/obesity-awareness/

We’ve published a series of articles on the Knowledge Centre this week on obesity, diabetes and how we all play a part in a society that is becoming more and more obese. I have always struggled with my weight. As a child, I would often be described as ‘big boned’, chubby or stout but the truth was I was fat and I did little about it. By the time I reached my late-20s I weighed over 24 stone, squeezed my legs into 44 inch waist trousers and pulled XXL t-shirts over my head. Needless to say, when it comes to my weight, I’ve got more baggage than Heathrow and these pieces brought back some uncomfortable memories of who I used to be, what I used to eat and how sedentary a life I used to lead.

At that size you have a choice. You can embrace what you’ve become, ignore the looks of disdain from passers-by as you waddle down the street and continue down a path to even more morbid obesity (but, as the kids would say, m’obesity, mo’ problems) and, if you have any ambition left, at best, you can hope to become Britain’s fattest man/woman or a contender on the Biggest Loser. Alternatively, you can try and pick yourself up – mentally as well as physically – and have the ambition to just be healthy. Choosing the latter isn’t easy but you’ll, hopefully, be glad to learn it’s the option I’ve been pursuing and one I heartily recommend.

The truth is, and I’m not sure all large people feel this way but it certainly was true for me, being obese is lonely. We might act like the jolly fat guy but a love of cake is nothing compared to the love of another human being. Pizza cannot hug you and waking up next to an empty box of doughnuts does not elicit the same feelings that you get when you’re in a relationship with a person and not food. Like I said; a lot of baggage!

There was a moment when I caught sight of my reflection in the kitchen glass door and it was the moment I knew my life had to change. I’d just pulled a batch of freshly baked brownies out of the oven and I couldn’t even wait for them to cool down before having “a little taste”. As I looked up I saw this huge guy, whose reflection took up most of the doorway, shovelling still steaming cake into his mouth. Who was this guy? In my mind’s eye this wasn’t what I looked like but this is what other people saw when they met me; this was the real me; overweight, unhappy and lonely.

Gareth Jenkins obese man

It’s been five years since the above picture was taken (not long before that reflective moment) and in that time I made an effort to turn my life around. I’ve kept a varied exercise regime to help change my life – rambling, gym sessions and using the large selection of exercise DVDs I'd bought years before. I even gave Zumba a go for a year. Now, I work out five times a week, walk the three miles to and from work each day and walk the family dog at weekends. I jumped on the scales this morning to see what I was down to. At 18 stone it’s still not where I’d like to be but I’d like to think I’ve got the direction of travel right. The memories of who I used to be might be uncomfortable but they’re also a great motivator to help me live a healthier and more enjoyable life.

Gareth Jenkins, Editor.

Ps. Here’s a more recent photo from this afternoon.


What I’m reading this week

Seeking Clues to Obesity in Rare Hunger Disorder
The New York Times
Lisa Tremblay still recalls in horror the time her daughter Kristin pulled a hot dog crawling with ants from the garbage at a cookout and prepared to swallow it.

The mega-city no one has heard of
Al Jazeera
Hanzhong, China - With four million people, Hanzhong's population is the rough equivalent of Los Angeles yet outside of China, almost no one has heard of it.

Even within the world's most populous country, the city is hardly well-known, its existence usually qualified with the sentence: "It's a few hours away from Xian."

Man Sues Toothpaste Maker Because He's Never Attracted A Woman Like Their Ads Promised
The headline says it all.

Costing secrecy
Vox, Professor Mark Harrison
“Democracy often seems bureaucratic with high ‘transaction costs’, while autocracies seem to get things done at lower cost. This column discusses historical research that refutes this. It finds empirical support from Soviet archives for a political security/usability trade-off. Regimes that are secure from public scrutiny tend to be more costly to operate.”

Mark’s written a follow up blog as well.

May 28, 2013

We Have The Means To Change The World For The Better

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. A sculpture commemorating the life of one of the scientists who discovered the double helix structure of DNA.
A blog post by Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz FRS, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge

Although any individual and organisation might change the world, universities are positively expected to do so. Through our teaching we change individual lives as a matter of routine; through our research, time after time, we change the way the world works.

Not only that, but we change it, consistently, for the better. 'To contribute to society' is not only part of a formal mission statement (of my university and many others), but it resonates in the daily activities of our staff and students.

Universities are rightly regarded as critical national assets. Governments the world over see them as vital sources of new knowledge and innovative thinking, as providers of skilled personnel and credible credentials, as critical friends and auditors of policies, as attractors of international talent and business investment, as agents of social justice and mobility, and as contributors to social and cultural vitality. We store knowledge and pass it from one generation to another, we are part of the civic establishment, and we are national and regional symbols. No other sort of organisation has such an astonishing remit, and no other sort of organization delivers such indispensable benefits to society.

How on earth to we manage all this? I offer three answers. Firstly, we integrate knowledge. Universities' disciplinary scope is, naturally enough, universal. Within the creative diversity of a university community, we can support scholars working across the disciplinary spectrum: those who work alone in libraries and with databases, deepening their, and our, understanding of a focused topic; and those who work in teams in laboratories and in the field. Their work would be of immense value on its own, but as integrative institutions we can also make connections between them, making the whole genuinely greater than the sum of the parts and marshalling expertise to address problems bigger than any single scholar's or research group’s capacity.

Secondly, we cleave to autonomy. The single greatest inhibitor of transformative excellence is excessive direction of ideas. We create autonomy within our institutions, and defend our institutional autonomy in wider society. The greatest biological discovery of the twentieth century was made in a physics laboratory: it is wholly imaginable that Crick and Watson’s collaboration might have been derailed by overzealous tidiness in internal structures and a line-management direction of research. (I am pleased that Cambridge is rarely accused of either!) Externally, we loudly and rightly assert our independence from governments and from other funders, including industry.

And thirdly, we are constantly relevant, both adapting to the society which we serve, and shaping it. Creating economic growth at home, and addressing poverty and hunger in developing countries, are among the pressing urgencies facing global society, and universities like mine are quick, and keen, to respond: we have both the capacity and the will to do so, in ways that are creative, productive, and surprising. The world does not look to its universities for predictable tweaks and short-term fixes, but for challenging, ground-breaking, world-bridging innovation.

It is a matter of fierce pride to all of us who work in universities that with astonishing frequency - though not regularity or predictability - we contribute ideas, technologies, and concepts that shatter preconceptions and change the world for the better.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: A sculpture commemorating the life of one of the scientists who discovered the double helix structure of DNA. As students at Cambridge, Francis Crick, who was born in Weston Favell, Northampton and American James Watson both unlocked the key of life in 1953. The scientists, along with Maurice Wilkins, were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1962 for their work on DNA. The steel sculpture called Discovery is installed in Abington Street, Northampton. Source: (Flickr)

Image. Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz University of Cambridge. In 2010, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz became the 345th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge having previously been Chief Executive of the UK's Medical Research Council from 2007 and Principal of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London. Professor Borysiewicz was knighted in the 2001 New Year's Honours List for his contribution to medical education and research into developing vaccines.

No To Generation Jobless: Ensuring Our Kids Have A Future

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Greek riots - protester stands in front of cloud of smoke.

A blog post by Dr Nemat Shafik, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Updated 31 May 2013

Financial markets have staged an impressive recovery in recent months. Thanks to the actions of policymakers, the global economy no longer looks quite as treacherous as it did six months ago. But in many parts of the world, there is no sense that the crisis is over. In far too many countries, improvements in financial markets have not translated into improvements in the real economy—and in the lives of people. More than 200 million people are out of work today. Many of these are young people. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), 73 million young people globally are looking for a job.

The result, according to The Economist, is an “arc of unemployment”, stretching from Southern Europe through North Africa and the Middle East to South Asia. In Spain, Greece, and Portugal, 40-55 per cent of all young people cannot find jobs. In the Middle East, youth unemployment is expected to reach 30 per cent. The picture in North Africa is almost as bleak, with youth unemployment at more than 23 per cent.

Youth unemployment has long-term consequences for economic growth because of the loss or degradation of human capital. It has been found to leave a “wage scar” in the form of lower earnings that can last into middle age, and has been linked to lower life expectancy and higher crime rates. Youth unemployment also has a corrosive effect on society itself—one that becomes very difficult to redress as time goes by. As the ILO noted in its most recent report, “Perhaps the most important scarring is in terms of the current youth generation’s distrust in the socioeconomic and political systems.”

The most effective way to create jobs is through growth. Policies to re-launch growth must therefore be given priority. But policymakers can also deploy labour market policies to spur job creation more directly. Options include education and training programmes, hiring and wage subsidies, public works programmes, child care subsidies, and lower taxes on labour.

In terms of near-term prospects, the outlook for growth is mixed at best. Even though global growth is showing signs of strengthening, the IMF does not expect it to be much higher this year than last year. Our latest forecast projects 3.3 per cent growth in 2013, and four per cent in 2014.

We have been advising our member countries to address three overarching issues that have been with us since the beginning of the crisis. They include financial sector reform; more balanced global demand; and more emphasis on growth, jobs, and equity.

But even if we assume that policymakers do all the right things, it will take years before growth will be enough to make significant inroads into youth unemployment. So governments need to think outside the box. This is where labour market and education policies come into play. Here, however, what may have worked five years ago may no longer work today because of the fast-changing nature of the work place.

Technology is profoundly transforming the nature of work, as argued by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. It used to be that 85 per cent was just showing up. Now, he says, “average is over.” Everyone has to bring something extra—their own unique contribution to the value chain. Jobs are constantly re-engineered, and innovation has become a survival skill.

Is more education the answer? Across the OECD, people who left school at the earliest opportunity are twice as likely to be unemployed as university graduates. But it is also true that many people with expensive liberal-arts degrees are finding it impossible to get decent jobs, writes The Economist. In North Africa, university graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-graduates.

There is also the issue of cost to consider. Will people still be willing to pay $500,000 for a degree from Harvard or Stanford? Or will more young people opt for online certificates costing $500 from course providers that provide qualifications in many different areas? Will the model of three to four years of university be replaced by true lifelong learning delivered in a more tailored way to support careers that evolve over a lifetime?

While young people in advanced countries grapple with the high cost of higher education, their counterparts in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, face much more basic challenges. Many young people in these countries leave school poorly educated, and enter the world of work without the knowledge, skills, or behaviors necessary to adapt to changes in the economy and their lives.

Clearly, the challenges are enormous. The future of millions of young people around the world is at stake. To solve the problems of youth unemployment, restoring global growth is crucial, as are policies to support job creation. None of this can be achieved without global cooperation. We at the IMF, with our 188 member countries, will do all we can to restore global growth.

But rethinking education is also an important part of the answer. You, the educators, can play a crucial role in charting a path out of the crisis for youth. But you, too, will need to rethink how you carry out your mandate. The world’s young people do not just need more education—they need education relevant to a very different labour market and world economy than we have ever faced before."

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image:Greek Riots, 2008 Source: (Flickr)

Image. Dr Nemat Shafik IMFNemat Shafik assumed the position of Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund on April 11, 2011.

A national of Egypt, the UK, and the USA , Dr Shafik is a global citizen with a global reputation in fields ranging from emerging markets, international development, the Middle East and Africa, to the financial sector. She brings to the IMF a wealth of experience in policy-making, management, and academia.

Applicable to the real world: the future of research

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. WMG Robotics - students at the University of Warwick
An interview with Dr Richard Hutchins, Director of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)

If the future of the higher education is virtual (as every blog and newspaper article about MOOCs would have you believe), does the success of WMG (using the Fraunhofer model) contradict this?

I’m not entirely convinced that going ‘totally virtual’ is the way forward, because there are huge advantages to companies, academics and students working side-by-side and sparking off each other. Secondly the fact that for this type of industrial research, where we work with companies in the manufacturing and advanced engineering sector, it inevitably requires people to have access to physical kit and technology. So I think there is a strong case to co-locate facilities that allow for all of those things to happen.

How would you asses the current state of the UK’s higher education sector’s relationships with business (and therefore economic growth) compared to the rest of the world?

I don’t think there is any doubt that the UK is right up there when it comes to higher education collaboration with industry. It’s the only way to go because we cannot rely on the government, public sector and the public purse to fund higher education research and teaching in the future in the way that it has done in the past. So we have to make our research and our teaching more applicable to the real world; the only way to do that is to connect it to the market place, which is working with industry and working with countries. All of the countries that are shooting up in terms of economic growth clearly connect universities with business or connect business with universities. China, most notably, where companies effectively sponsor universities and the development of universities. We see a number of collaborations of that type in Beijing.

The University of Warwick is hosting the 2013 Global University Summit this week (w/c 27 May 2013), which will issue a formal declaration on higher education to the G8. If you could get one commitment from the summit of world leaders related to higher education that would benefit the sector, what would that be?

We need to be promoting the freer exchange of students and knowledge across international boundaries. When it comes down to things like that, it means student visas; it means free exchange of intellectual property. Not all easy things to do but things which will undoubtedly help to unlock economic growth in all nations.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: WMG Robot Team, April 2013. Source: (University of Warwick)

Image. Dr Richard Hutchins WMGDr Richard Hutchins is responsible for leading WMG's interface and work with Jaguar Land Rover, including support for JLR's Government Affairs and Government Programmes teams. Leading the development of the WMG Academy for Young Engineers. Leading our work with Local Enterprise Partnerships. He is a non-executive director of WMMC (Manufacturing Advisory Service).

Universities driving economic growth

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Students in the Wolfson Research Exchange, University of Warwick

A blog post by Dirk Van Damme, Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, OECD

In most OECD countries economic growth is now driven to a higher degree by intangible assets than by traditional capital such as machinery or equipment. Knowledge, data, patents, and human capital are the new sources of growth. And innovation in these intellectual assets will spur growth to take off again. The quantity and quality of intellectual innovation will not only determine when and how countries will find the way out of the recession, but also the post-recession new global economic order.

As key players in the knowledge chain, universities constitute the main institutional framework for the creation of intellectual capital. Either they can foster and accelerate knowledge-based growth or they can hamper it. Because they mainly are situated upstream in the knowledge creation process, compared to firms and businesses themselves, they act as gatekeepers: either economic growth is nurtured by a large flow of innovative knowledge and human capital, or the economy and society at large only reap a weak stream of mediocre knowledge and competences. Universities achieve this mission in basically two ways: by conducting cutting edge research – which is added to the knowledge base of the global scientific system and transformed into applicable knowledge with industry and by educating knowledge workers with the right skills sets which can drive innovation and productivity increases.

With regard to human capital development, the second function, over the past couple of decades universities in OECD countries have been able to cope with an increasing demand, driven by a social mobility aspiration in the population, and to deliver an ever increasing number of graduates to the labour market. Given the production time of high-level skills and all kinds of institutional hindrances or social expectations, it is of course impossible for universities to exactly follow the economic conjuncture and the specificities of the skills demand. Overall however, data on graduate employment, earnings premiums and returns on educational investment show that fears for exaggerated massification and over-schooling are not confirmed.

In delivering the human capital the knowledge economy needs, universities are massively contributing to the creation of wealth. Between 2000 and 2010 more than half of GDP growth in OECD countries was related to labour income growth among higher-educated individuals. The returns to society and the public purse over the lifetime of a graduate are many times greater than the upfront investment in educating that individual.

Still, the main challenge for universities regarding human capital development is whether they are educating for the kind of skills the innovation economy of the twenty-first century needs. Short-term skill mismatches – with graduate unemployment at a time where employers have unfilled vacancies – are symptomatic. But even more important is the question of whether universities are not conservatively following the old, conventional ways in which human knowledge is codified and professions are organised, rather than to radically choose for the skills which foster innovation in the twenty-first century.

With regard to the knowledge creation function through research, the first function, a lot of data underlines the critical importance of investing in high-level research in order to drive innovation in the economy. However, the challenge seems not to be to maintain high absolute levels of research investment, but to improve research efficiency, i.e. the relationship between research input and output. Many of the innovative economies in the OECD are not the absolute centres of academic excellence, but seem to have improved their research efficiency. World-class universities – those in the top 20 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings – combine extremely high research investments with high outputs. But the dynamic sub-top of universities, often to be found in emerging countries in the global science system, combine much lower investments with equally high outputs. These countries are not (yet) the BRICs, but are to be found in the immediate neighbourhood: Switzerland, Benelux, France and Scandinavian countries.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Students in the Wolfson Research Exchange. Source: (University of Warwick)

Image. Dirk Van Damme, OECDDirk Van Damme currently is Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division (IMEP) in the Directorate for Education at the OECD in Paris. He holds a PhD in educational sciences from Ghent University and is also professor of educational sciences in the same university (since 1995). He also was part-time professor in comparative education at the Free University of Brussels (1997-2000) and visiting professor of comparative education at Seton Hall University, NJ, USA (2001-2008). He was general director of the Flemish Rectors’ Conference, the main advisory body for higher education policy in the Flemish part of Belgium between 2000 and 2003. He has been professionally involved in educational policy development between 1992 and 2008, and served as chief of staff of Mr Frank Vandenbroucke, Flemish minister of education between 2004 and 2008. His current interests are evidence-based innovation in education, comparative analyses of educational systems, new developments in the learning sciences and knowledge management in education. At the OECD he is responsible for the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, covering both the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) and the Indicators of Educational Systems (INES) programme.

May 24, 2013

Changing World Orders and Implications for the University Sector

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Delft University of Technology campus shot.

A blog post by Dirk Jan van den Berg, President of Delft University of Technology

The rise of the BRICK nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea) is one of the defining changes of the post-Cold War world. The growing economic potential of these markets is well documented but, what is (still), less commonly discussed is the massive impact these emerging powers are bringing to bear on the global research and knowledge landscape.

Take the pioneering work of the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge Research Project, for instance. In 1973, about two thirds of the nearly 400,000 academic research publications indexed by Thomson Reuters came from the G7 countries. Today, four times as many documents (around 1.75 million journal publications) are being indexed, and half originate from outside the G7.

This is a nothing less than a sea change, driven by the exponential growth in investment in research and development in the BRICKs. Inevitably, this trend has massive implications for universities right across the world, not least in the G7. In Europe, for example, the heritage and reputation of our universities have long underpinned our economic growth. Any significant deterioration of their international standing threatens to eventually undermine our future prosperity. The choice is simple: adapt or gradually decay. For Delft, our strategy has two principle elements.

Firstly, we have redoubled our efforts to attract the best scientists. Education and research are increasingly characterised by international co-operation and funding, and we welcome the rich opportunities offered by recruiting both academics and students from across the world.

The landmark discovery last year by Delft of the Majorana particle, for example, was the result of a collaborative effort by a Dutch PhD student and a Chinese colleague, under the supervision of Professor Leo Kouwenhoven. In today’s world, such partnerships are the norm and universities that see national borders risk becoming irrelevant.

Secondly, if European universities want to continue undertaking research at the highest level, we have to both develop better facilities (e.g. laboratories), and give more of our scientists the opportunity to work where the best campuses increasingly are (the BRICKS) -- whilst, of course, ensuring their know-how continues to benefit Europe.

The facilities of European universities, in general, are simply unable to keep up with international developments. Some are doing well, but the BRICK competition is generally advancing much faster.

Enhancing European campuses (many buildings of which date back many decades) is a precondition for attracting and retaining Europe’s knowledge capital, for more competitive EU universities in the global battle for brains, and for supporting innovation in the economy. To secure this improvement, we need to become better at sharing knowledge about campus improvement and management. Key tools to enable this would include ‘campus stress tests’, including performance benchmarks such as inter-university collaboration, space utilisation, ecological footprint, total costs, shared university-city functions. The reason why Europe has fallen behind, quite simply, is money. Whilst funding of many European universities is being eroded all the time, countries like China are investing amounts unimaginable to us in facilities. Their scientific quality generally stills falls short of ours, but their facilities are well ahead.

For leading researchers in many fields, China is becoming the place to be. And that is why Delft has opened four research centres there. In partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a Beijing Research Centre is engaged mainly in research on solid state lighting; with Hohai University in Nanjing, a water research centre is focused upon delta technology and hydrology; with Wuhan University we have launched a centre for geo-information, geodesy and earth observation; and with South China University of Technology, in Guangzhou, we have started the Research Centre for Urban Systems and Environment. This represents the next stage in Delft’s global strategy. In a context where education and research are more international, and increasingly gravitating online, we are planting pieces of Delft University in the places where they have the best chance of flourishing and where the greatest yields in knowledge are to be had. And that is no longer in the Netherlands, but in the BRICKs.

In each of these four research fields (solid state lighting, water, geo-information, and urban systems) the Netherlands is a world knowledge leader. And in all of these areas of infrastructure development, China’s rapid growth means it is facing need for major new innovation and expertise in these areas. The case for collaboration is clear.

As research in science and technology knows no national borders, it is very likely we will see major research hubs developing, connected through a global network of research activity. A lot of focus is being placed on ICT technologies as a carrier of international research cooperation. However there will be no clicks without bricks and the major research hubs will develop where research infrastructure and vibrant eco-systems are best.

Top researchers will thus go to the emerging focal points of their disciplines. We have to make sure that these focal points will not be in Asia or the US alone. Europe needs to defend its rich and productive academic legacy and make sure that it plays a full role in leading edge research through strong European hubs in a global network of research cooperation.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Delft University of Technology. Source: (tuxboard)

Image. Dr D.J. van den Berg TU Delft UniversityDirk Jan van den Berg is President of Delft University of Technology, and was formerly the Dutch Ambassador to China and the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

May 23, 2013

The Art of Partnership

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. University of Southampton WSA Degree Show Preparation 2008

A blog post by Dame Helen Alexander, Chancellor of the University of Southampton

The greatest collaborations between industry and universities involve true partnership. Developing these partnerships, however, is a slow process, and needs to be carefully nurtured.

The University of Southampton, where I am chancellor, experiences the whole range of interactions with business at regional, national and international levels. The first, and the hardest to quantify, is the production of highly educated and trained people. Degree programmes and professional training all develop people with the skills and qualities which businesses need. As with many universities, there are companies who rely on our university to produce the graduates they require, and many work with us on developing the curricula or offering work experience.

Companies with good experience of a university, and the graduates it produces, often take the next step in the relationship; they identify individual projects where the university can help their business to develop further. To be successful, universities must see such contract research as a key part of their mission. They need both academic staff who understand and can deliver to business requirements and timescales, and processes which make such contract research easier to deliver within a busy university environment. The universities who are best at doing this, Southampton included, have developed this capability over many decades. They need staff with significant experience in working with companies, and often have dedicated units for contract research. It is essential that these units stay deeply connected to the rest of the university, and can draw upon expertise from across the disciplines.

True partnerships between companies and universities come after many years of working together, where a synergy develops as both sides understand the other’s needs. Sometimes the company in question has a standard model for how to do this. Rolls Royce, for instance, has established University Technology Centres in higher education institutions (HEIs) across the world, each focussing on a different set of technological or engineering problems. The University of Southampton hosts two such centres (in gas turbine noise and computational engineering). Other major companies such as Microsoft, BAE and Unilever do the same.

The strongest partnerships of all are achieved when a company and a university find they are almost mutually co-dependent, and both adapt their own systems and structures to make the partnership stronger. In Southampton, we have a relationship with Lloyd’s Register dating back more than 40 years, which has passed through all of the stages outlined above. As a result, we are, together, constructing a new campus, which will co-locate 400 engineers from Lloyd’s Register, with engineers and scientists from the University. The two partners are sharing the £115m cost in a project heralded as the largest such business-focused endeavour in any UK university. And we are now using that development as a platform to work with them in Singapore, in the USA and around the world.

Such partnerships bring some of the greatest business impacts from universities. Partnership brings huge rewards, but is hard, time-consuming and involves compromise. You only become the partner of someone you know well. The trust, the confidence, the comfort of working together in this way builds slowly. You can’t rush it.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Southampton University WSA Degree Show Preparation 2008. Source: (Flickr)

Image. Dame Helen Alexander University of SouthamptonDame Helen Alexander, Chancellor of the University of Southampton, chairman of UBM plc, Incisive Media and the Port of London Authority. Dame Helen was president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) until June 2011. Dame Helen was chief executive of the Economist Group until 2008, having joined the company in 1985 and been managing director of the Economist Intelligence Unit from 1993 to 1997.

The Research Triangle

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Penrose triangle

A blog post by Simon Bradley, Vice-President of EADS

In 2012, Sir Tim Wilson recommended the creation of a new centre based on university and industry collaboration, a place to share best practice across industrial sectors as well as encouraging companies who traditionally do not enter this model, usually smaller to medium size, to see the real value of such collaborations. Overall aims included the gathering and maintaining of a comprehensive repository of good practice, the undertaking of commissioned studies and a place to provide reliable information sources for future substantive reviews on the topic. In 2013, this recommendation was delivered with the opening of the National Centre for Universities & Business (NCUB) – run under the auspices of the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE).

Why is this important to us? For EADS, upstream investment (TRL 1–4) is vital to the success of the group and has enabled us to design and build truly historic products, from the engines on-board the LZ-1 Zeppelin (which flew in 1900), to the world’s first commercial radio broadcast in 1920 or Concorde in 1969 and the Airbus A380 today. Worldwide, we are ranked as the thirtieth largest-spending company worldwide in R&D, at €3.9bn (Rank position from 2012). When the Department for Business Innovation & Skills produced its UK R&D scorecard report, listing the 1,000 top UK and global companies, based upon R&D investment, EADS was ranked number one (including its subsidiaries Airbus, Cassidian, Eurocopter and Astrium) based on foreign-owned (as defined by BIS) R&D investment in the UK.

So what is the problem? Finding the jewels that transfer from ideas into real technology that delivers business benefit is a non-exact science, which requires all parties to understand the value of failure as well as that of success. For every project that delivers there are perhaps five, ten or even 100 that do not. Critical breakthroughs happen in our labs but crucially they also happen in universities, SMEs and other companies – we need to be able to locate, nurture and integrate these breakthrough technologies in a manner that benefits all stakeholders. We need to engender trust relationships so that long terms partnerships can flourish and people are open to sharing their technology. How do we do this?

In Wales we have pioneered the EADS Foundation for Wales, a not-for profit, limited by guarantee company, which has a triangle of stakeholders – industry, academia and government. This foundation encourages anyone with an idea to pitch their technology within a number of grand challenges; these are defined as areas of importance to industry and also to Wales. Each stakeholder contributes, either cash or in-kind resource, and external SMEs, academics and others can apply for funding through a wave process that allows very quick decision making and incremental awards based on results. The key to the success of the Foundation is adopting a trust relationship; all background IP is respected and any new IP created is placed under the ownership of the Foundation. Once a project is ready for exploitation, the IP can then be purchased at an independently valued market rate.

The next stage, for Wales, is to roll out this Foundation model across other sectors, not just aerospace and defence, encouraging other large companies to invest into this model and increase the Welsh SME eco-system, feeding into the supply chains of the major companies and providing a means for smaller companies to work with academia and perform real R&D without using up precious funding.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Penrose Triangle. Source: (Flickr)
Image. Simon Bradley, EADS, standing next to a DalekSimon Bradley started his career with British Airways before becoming part of the design team for the system architecture behind the secure communications platform at No. 10 Downing Street. After the successful implementation of the system he joined the United Nations. Simon Bradley joined EADS in 2006 and, in 2011, Simon started his latest challenge working for the Global Innovation Network team within the Office of the Chief Technical Officer, Dr Jean Botti. Simon is a visiting Professor at Aberystwyth University(Prifysgol Aberystwyth) in Wales, a member of the Scientific Advisory Council for Wales and is a regular keynote speaker at conferences on systems engineering, homeland security and innovation.

Inherently Global: Higher Education and Economic Impact

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Stars and planes across the Toronto skyline

A blog post by Dr Joanna Newman, Director, UK Higher Education International Unit

A world-class higher education system is essential for growth and competitiveness in a global knowledge economy. An excellent modern higher education system demands internationalisation in staff, students, partners and outlook. Many UK universities are already leading global enterprises in their own right. With fierce and growing global competition in higher education, and no fat to cut in the highly productive UK system, the need to collaborate with international partners is greater than ever.

As institutions rooted in their communities, they draw visitors, businesses and investment to their cities and regions and act as anchors for skills and enterprise. A high-tech cluster is a rare phenomenon, but every ten international university students in the UK support six local jobs.

Higher education alone is one of the UK’s largest export earners, at over £8 billion a year, and has the potential to more than double in value by 2025. Research and innovation, the key drivers of long term productivity, are already inherently global. Universities are central to attracting and retaining globally mobile investment (and 23 per cent of UK R&D is from abroad, more than any large economy). Just as importantly, they attract and network global talent. Students considering their prospects in an increasingly globalised labour market are realising that future employers will expect the cultural agility to communicate and work with members of a cosmopolitan team, so offering outbound international experience will be important to attracting domestic students and creating global employable graduates.

The UK higher education sector’s leading position, second in the world as a study destination and for research quality, is an asset for one country that brings economic benefits around the world; improving employment rates and wages for returning graduates, assisting international development and building the capacity of emerging powers. Sharing a home with international universities gives business access to talent and new knowledge, the capacity to absorb innovation from elsewhere and the contacts to trade. The government scholarship schemes launched by fast-growing nations show that higher education mobility is an investment priority of the innovation economies of the future.

Universities’ links with other academics, industry or policy makers are often the leading edge of wider international collaboration. Indeed, the World Wide Web itself had its origins in improving international research collaboration. Links between universities and business are vital, growing and global, but the largest and most transformative economic impacts from higher education come precisely because the core mission of universities is to create and impart knowledge. This essential mission creates relationships of trust that can endure short-term market fluctuations, and innovate far ahead of a market application.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Stars and Planes. Source: (Flickr).

Image. Dr Joanna NewmanDr Joanna Newman represents the International Unit on the International Education Advisory Forum, is a board member of the School of Advanced Studies and regularly represents the sector on national and international platforms. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Southampton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

May 21, 2013

Fundamental Curiosity: The Dynamic Of The University

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Rodin

A Q and A with Professor Tim Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor: Research (Science and Medicine), Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement, University of Warwick.

What do you think is the most under-hyped, yet significant, change universities in the UK will undergo during the next decade?

I don’t know if it’s necessarily under-hyped but I think the private provision of higher education will completely change the dynamic in the future. I think a number of universities will be threatened very significantly. Private provision will expand and will change the way universities have to behave and operate in a very, very significant way.

And do you think global providers have an advantage?

Almost certainly yes, I mean the US is a classic example, and I think the UK is behind the curve with this certainly compared to some countries.

Open-access research: is the UK shooting itself in the foot or are we leading the way?

There is no doubt that open access research is a great thing in principle, however I think being first is not necessarily a good thing. So I would argue we are shooting ourselves in the foot because I don’t necessarily see the rest of the world following. I think the UK is going to be in a very difficult position.

The University of Warwick is hosting the 2013 Global University Summit in May, which will issue a formal declaration on higher education to the G8. If you could get one commitment from the summit of world leaders, what would that be?

It would be to ensure that universities remain establishments of academic research and scholarships and are no skewed too much by the agendas of governments around the world, where economic growth seems to be the raison d’être for the existence of universities. Don’t skew universities too much towards being engines of economic growth; don’t change the dynamic of the way the university operates. Don’t discriminate against intellectual, fundamental, curiosity driven education and research that continues to attract the very very best students and academics, who are free thinkers and are not constrained by government thinking and policy.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Auguste Rodin's Le Penseur (The Thinker). Source: (Flickr).
Image Professor Tim Jones, University of WarwickAs Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement, Professor Tim Jones has responsibility for development of the University of Warwick’s knowledge transfer and business engagement strategy to support the University’s research and teaching ambitions through corporate level regional, national and international relationships with business partners. He also works with the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer to maximise the impact of the University HEIF allocations and lead engagements with relevant external bodies.He also has responsibility for the University’s Science research strategy, including the development of research opportunities and collaborations both nationally and internationally and the raising of research income, publications and citation scores in the Faculty of Science.

The Relationship Between Universities and Economic Growth

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Library. Magdalen College Oxford University

A blog post by Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of Universities

All the evidence shows our leading research-intensive universities are the engine room of long-term, sustainable growth and prosperity.

Russell Group universities are major contributors to the economy in their own right, supporting more than 270,000 jobs and generating an economic output in excess of £30 billion a year.

This benefit is spread right across the UK and, in many of our major cities up and down the country; universities are key contributors to the regional economy.

For example, the University of Birmingham generated £1.1 billion of spending in the region in the 2011/12 academic year. The value-added contribution to the West Midlands economy was almost double that of the region’s eight largest football clubs.

Russell Group universities contribute out of all proportion to their size - just 24 universities account for more than 60 per cent of the spin-out companies which survive for three years or more.

Higher education overall is one of this country’s most successful export industries and is estimated to contribute more than £8.2 billion a year in overseas earnings - on a par with earnings from the export of electrical equipment or manufactured food products. In Sheffield alone, international students pump £120 million into the local economy every year.

And the contribution from our universities is growing apace. The economic impact has increased from £28 billion to £30 billion in just one year. That’s 7 per cent growth at a time when growth across the whole economy was flat.

Our universities are far removed from the image of remote ivory towers. A recent report by the World Economic Forum ranked the UK among the best countries in the world for business-university collaboration.

The skills and expertise developed by one student at the University of Warwick Business School helped to rejuvenate the management techniques and company culture within a local manufacturing SME.

Discoveries like graphene and spin-outs like the University of Oxford’s Natural Games Motion, now widely used in the film and games industries, which will lead to real growth.

Universities also increase productivity by helping to make existing businesses more efficient. A collaboration between Rolls-Royce plc and researchers at the University of Birmingham resulted in a breakthrough technology which is saving the company millions of pounds every year.

In highly developed economies such as the UK, growth increasingly needs to come from investments in research, innovation and human capital - all areas in which the role of universities is critical.

But successful commercialisation requires sustained and patient investment in research, often over many years or even decades. 125 case studies across the Russell Group showed the timescale from research to first realising a commercial return averages more than 17 years.

The Chancellor rightly recognised the importance of research last year when he explained his approach to scientific investment to the Royal Society and said: “Let us identify what Britain is best at – and back it.”

That’s why we believe the science and research resource budget must continue to be ring-fenced in the forthcoming spending review if the UK is to lift itself out of the economic doldrums and set a course for long-term success.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Magdalen College, Oxford. Source (Flickr).

Image. Dr Wendy Piatt, Russell GroupDr Wendy Piatt is the first Director General and Chief Executive of the Russell Group, which represents 24 major research-intensive universities in the UK. She was appointed to set up an organisation providing strategic direction and policy development underpinned by research and communications. She was previously deputy director and head of public service reform at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit where she also led work on social mobility, local government, education and skills and digital inclusion. Prior to that, she was head of education policy at the Institute for Public Policy Research, specialising in higher and further education.

The Class Of 2038: Universities 25 Years Down The Road

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Delorean - the Back to the future car/time machine.

A Q and A with Professor Mark Taylor, Dean of Warwick Business School (WBS).

What do you think is currently the most under-hyped, yet significant, change universities in the UK will undergo within the next decade?

I think one aspect is the impact of the e-learning agenda and how that will change the way we think about universities. Already with the advent of MOOCs we are seeing an ‘unbundling’ of what universities offer. Universities offer knowledge production, knowledge dissemination, and a qualification and student experience; singularly if you like. Top universities offer all four of those. A MOOC offers you what? It doesn’t offer you knowledge production, doesn’t really offer you a qualification after completion; it doesn’t offer you a student experience. So it is just taking out all of those aspects. Its main purpose is knowledge dissemination. We may see the development of universities, over the next twenty-five years, that offer one or more but not all of those aspects of university life. So that may lead to a richness in university education. It may even lead to the development of different areas and niches within the higher education sector. People often like to refer to the ‘Napster moment’ in music, where people thought it would be the end of the universe. What the impact led to was an enrichment of the music industry because it forced the music industry to orientate itself more towards live performances for example, so it actually increased the quality of the provision of the music industry. In the same way I’d have thought e-learning, distance learning and the MOOC agenda will influence universities in a positive way over the next twenty-five years.

Another aspect that is interesting is so called ‘big data’; huge and complex data sets where, for years now, people have been bombarded with huge amounts of information and we are only just getting to grips with how we can actually analyse these data sets in meaningful ways. I think analysing those within institutions seeing how we can improve how we provide some of those elements universities provide like knowledge production, knowledge dissemination and student experience will be very important.

How can university business schools ‘bridge the valley of death’ between academia and industry?

A business school that doesn’t reach out and interact with business is just a school. So it is central to what a business school does and we have a central mission in the Business School. Our mission is to produce world class research, which is capable of influencing the way organisations operate and the way business is conducted. We are here to produce world class business leaders and managers; we are here to provide a return in investment for our students for our alumni during their entire careers as they go out into industry. So we are thinking of ourselves as always trying to integrate within the business industry. Already in the way the government assesses research, in the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework in 2014, is an important impact element which will measure the significance of research done in business schools and in universities in general, on society and the environment, as well as in business schools and business industry.

I think that will be an increasingly important element of the metrics of higher education going forward; it’s not good enough just to publish a paper in a top rate academic journal, there has to be the impact that flows from that. I for one welcome the metrics. The use of metrics in the past twenty or thirty years often had a distorting effect. I think that in this case, it will have a positive impact. At Warwick Business School, there are a number of initiatives we have undertaken in order to interface with business; we are, for example, appointing Professors of Practice. So we now have several professors within the school of the rank of professor who are not academics, who have spent their career within industry and business and achieved a very high level of distinction and been very successful. We have hired them and given them the rank of professor to teach on our MBA programme. They want to impart some of that knowledge, some of that experience to our MBA students and to our researchers as well.

If you could get one commitment from the G8 summit of world leaders, related to higher education, that would benefit the global sector, what would that be?

Quite simply it would be a commitment from world leaders to utilise the knowledge and skills within universities. Universities will generally provide a politically independent source of advice from a range of ideas. Going back to a previous question on how we bridge the gap between academia and industry, I think it’s also important how we bridge the gaps between academia and governments and policy. So really just utilising the skills, and experience and knowledge that exist within universities will go a long way towards benefiting the global economy and global society.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Model Delorean. Source: Flickr.

Image. Professor Mark Talylor University of Warwick Business SchoolProfessor Mark P Taylor is Dean of Warwick Business School (WBS). Professor Taylor has outstanding credentials both in academia and in the business and policy worlds. He has held a professorship in international finance at Warwick since 1999. From 2006, on partial leave, he worked as a managing director at BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, where he led the European arm of the Global Market Strategies Group, a large global macro investment fund.

Professor Taylor's research on exchange rates and international financial markets has been published extensively in many of the leading academic and practitioner journals and he is one of the most highly cited researchers in finance and economics in the world.

Use Partnerships To Innovate And Grow

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Leaf-cutter ants

A blog post by Srikanth Iyengar, AVP and Head of UK, Infosys

Powerful global ‘megatrends’ are shaping your future. You might not even be aware of many of them. You might not even know what exactly a megatrend is. But rest assured, they’re going to have a profound effect on you and the way your company does business.

Some of these megatrends – such as emerging economies and new healthcare delivery models– are going to be unsettling and disruptive. Take a look back over the history of the planet: major social and economic transformations have never been without their growing pains. The organisations left standing when the dust settles are those that not only embraced change; they used it to their advantage.

How do you build the enterprise of tomorrow? By making an effective collaboration today. For instance, few companies have adopted Internet retailing faster than those in the United Kingdom. As such, smart retailers from around the world make it a priority to partner with British universities. We have a rich cultural heritage that encourages innovative thinking.

At the corporate level, disruptive innovation is transforming companies that embrace change. BBC iPlayer, for instance, is a leading mobile television technology. British supermarkets were the first to pioneer loyalty cards; online grocery shopping is more advanced here than anywhere else. Innovations like Click and Collect are helping high street companies like Argos to compete with the likes of Amazon.

Economic regeneration begins with innovation. So does supporting grassroots entrepreneurs. Regional clusters like Tech City in London help foster a community of innovation. Extensions of Canary Wharf focus on the so-called FinTech community, which is a smart commercial development that helps drive connections between technology start-ups, universities and the financial services industry.

Speaking of technology, new consumption models, like the Cloud, are helping companies create more flexible cost structures. Successful corporations are using technology to remain agile enough in what can be an uncertain and volatile economy. They are also using mobile and Internet innovations to develop new business models.

The public sector needs to do its part. Governments should be mindful to create the right environments to let these collaborations flourish. They need to avoid protection for uncompetitive industries that refuse to innovate. Politicians would do well to focus on allowing the free flow of the world’s finest minds into the UK.

Of course, the most disruptive technologies don’t mean much if they don’t have the right people behind them. Infosys cherishes its partnerships with Cambridge University and Belfast’s Queens University. The British university system nurtures the kind of innovation that drives success within global corporations.

That said, governments and businesses need to tighten their bonds. Science and technology education create the precise skills that companies need to succeed. Having the right 'e-skills' is precisely this kind of quality that companies in the UK are looking for among recent graduates.

With a strong pipeline of people, the university system is well placed to continue its vital role in driving growth and prosperity. Emerging trends in business and society, along with changing demographic patterns, are presenting companies with new challenges and opening up opportunities. Only firms that relentlessly innovate to overcome challenges can gain and sustain a competitive edge.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Leaf cutter ants. Source (Flickr).

Image. Srikanth Iyengar, AVP and Head of UK, InfosysSrikanth leads a global sales team that drives the pipeline development and successful closure of all US$ 50M+ TCV deals across Infosys. He is also the Head of the UK Centre and a member of the Regional Leadership Council, Europe. Srikanth also has additional responsibility for Infosys’s external interactions in the UK across a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including analysts, industry associations and governmental bodies. Prior to joining Infosys, Srikanth worked with a leading CPG major. He is a qualified electrical engineer and holds a management degree.

May 19, 2013

The International Race: The Forefront of International Higher Education

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. 31st Annual Freihofer

A blog post by Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol

Higher education is an international enterprise. Our comparators, and our competitors, are found all over the world. At my own university, Bristol, we have staff and students from 112 countries. 30 per cent of our students and around 14 per cent of our staff are from outside the UK. We have partnerships in many countries around the world and each year we help about 500 students go abroad as part of their degrees We’re in the business of educating global citizens.

That is one reason why the Global University Summit is such an important event in the higher education calendar.

It is particularly important for us in the UK at this moment because, like so many other countries, we are in the middle of a period of serious fiscal retrenchment. As government looks to reduce, all UK government budget areas (with the exception of schools, the NHS and international development) are facing substantial cuts.

Our job is to explain that we are in an international race and that the search for elusive growth depends, to a considerable extent, on our ability to stay at the forefront of international higher education.

If we don’t, highly mobile students and academic staff have the world to choose from. The pull of world-class universities encourages businesses to invest in the UK, helps companies grow, and underpins the infrastructure which supports them, including the essential public services.

Universities are also a fantastic advertisement for the UK. Anywhere you go in the world you will find leaders in all parts of public life who were educated here. That creates a network of priceless importance to the UK. It opens up diplomatic and commercial opportunities that cannot be under-estimated. The influence is not only about past links. At almost any point in time, a UK academic will be standing on a platform somewhere promoting the ideas we are generating.

We know that university research contributes to UK competitiveness in a range of ways – not only the obvious technological innovations like 3G mobile, a product of Bristol research.

In my view, the major contribution universities make to the economy is through people. 3,800 educated, talented and motivated graduates emerge from the University of Bristol every year. They all have subject-specific knowledge, but more importantly they have the ability to think critically, to challenge received opinion and, we hope, the confidence to drive change.

That’s one of the reasons why, according to NESTA, innovative businesses have more than double the share of employees with degrees than business categorised as ‘non-innovative’. It goes some way to explaining why the UK economy is becoming increasingly dependent on graduates - a trend which looks likely to continue as the proportion of jobs which require lower skill levels continues to shrink.

And although such companies make up just six per cent of the total number of businesses in the UK, they accounted for 54 per cent of jobs growth between 2002 and 2005.

The political debate in the UK is dominated by deficit reduction, and growth, and the complex relationship between the two. The next election will be won and lost on economic confidence. Spending decisions for 2015-16 will set the tone and the government will be judged on how it balances investment for growth with retrenchment for deficit reduction.

Our job, as our government gears up for some extremely difficult spending decisions is to convince them that this is precisely the wrong moment to cut back on education and research. We’re part of the answer, not part of the problem.

That’s why government must invest in universities.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: 31st Annual Freihofer's Run for Women. Source (Flickr).

Image. Professor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor, University of BristolProfessor Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol

Professor Eric Thomas has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol since September 2001. He graduated in Medicine from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1976 and proceeded to obtain his MD by thesis in research into endometriosis in 1987. He trained as an obstetrician and gynaecologist and worked at both the universities of Sheffield and Newcastle. In 1991 he was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Southampton and then became Head of the School of Medicine there in 1995 and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Biological Sciences in 1998. He was a consultant gynaecologist from 1987 to 2001.

The Attraction of UK Universities

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Students walking through bluebells on the University of Warwick campus

A blog post by Sir John O’Reilly, Director General, Knowledge and Innovation, BIS.

Our Universities are one of the UK’s national assets. They have a worldwide reputation for teaching and research and make a valuable contribution to economic growth not just through their employment and expenditure, but as a provider of skilled people; through attracting inward investment; facilitating the innovation ecosystem; supplying workforce development services; supporting business start-ups and commercialisation of research and through civic leadership.

Higher education is an important part of the UK economy. The sector employs more than one per cent of the UK’s total workforce. UK universities generate over a third of their funds from non-public sources and their export earnings exceed £8bn, including expenditure by overseas students.

The UK is already one of the most attractive places in the world to study. We have a 13 per cent share of the international higher education (HE) student market by nationality, and over 75 per cent of institutions provide higher education qualifications overseas. To support growth in this important area, the Government is developing an education exports industrial strategy, which will cover the full range of UK education exports from English language training to further and higher education.

Universities’ income from engagement with business and community is at an unprecedented level, and has more than doubled in real terms since 2001 to £3.43bn per annum. Industry has been attracted to working in the UK by our universities, by our skilled people, by the quality of our research and the ease with which the UK transacts its relationships.

We often look to the USA for lessons on university-business interactions: but the World Economic Forum rated the UK second in the world for university-business collaborations – ahead of the United States. UK higher education institutions (HEIs) generate higher number of patents and more spin-outs per pound of research, and attract a similar proportion of industry funding as US HEIs.

Universities are part of the UK’s national infrastructure. The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund helps universities to accelerate private co-investment in UK university research infrastructure and create long-term research partnerships with businesses and charities. This co-investment model will secure over £1bn, through providing £300m of public money.

The Government is actively seeking to support universities to build strategic relationships with business. However we recognise that working with business is not just about securing finance from the private sector: there are wide range of knowledge exchange activities that occur between academia and business.

Tim Wilson’s review of business-university collaborationtold me that there are already excellent links between businesses and universities. But we can do more. This is why BIS has supported the creation of the National Centre for Universities and Business. We don’t think any other country has this facility and we believe it will give us a real competitive edge.

Universities also play a unique and multi-faceted role in local economic development. We need to ensure we realise these benefits and the Government has invited Sir Andrew Witty to lead a review to explore further how universities can work with local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and other local organisations to support growth.

The review will explore the range of ways that universities contribute to their local economies and identify where we have world leading capabilities in our research base that can underpin the sectors and technologies of the industrial strategy, and how we can maximise their impact.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Students exploring the University of Warwick campus


Image. Sir John O’Reilly Director General, Knowledge and Innovation, BIS

Sir John O’Reilly
Director General, Knowledge and Innovation, BIS

Sir John O’Reilly was appointed Director General of Knowledge and Innovation in February 2013. John came from Cranfield University where he was Vice Chancellor from December 2006.

May 17, 2013

University — business collaboration must be a core part of the UK growth strategy

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Equations and mathematical symobols

A blog post by Neil Carberry, Director for Employment and Skills. CBI.

Strengthening research and innovation and having the right skills base will underpin a successful industrial strategy for the UK. Businesses and universities, not government, must seize the opportunity to work together and drive the agenda.

Universities have long been central to the CBI’s work on the growth agenda.

The CBI has often pointed to our universities as one of the UK’s strongest assets, from their research record – second only to the US – to the £15bn success story of UK education service exports. And all of this is recycled into better quality education for young people in the UK, raising skills and creating a virtuous cycle of innovation and exploitation of new ideas and technologies. Indeed, a major focus of the CBI over the past few years has been addressing failings in the economy whereby some of the technology-led start-ups, so often spun out from our universities, have struggled to grow. Our industrial strategy is one route to addressing this.

As the UK economy rebalances towards trade and investment, we need an industrial strategy that allows us to get behind sectors where the UK has the competitive advantage and the strategic opportunity. For government this means intelligent political and policy support, not picking winners. There’s no doubting that university-business collaboration, skills and R&D are all-encompassing issues, as well as for each individual sector strategy. I see three key trends where businesses and universities can work together to make real progress:

  • Firstly, on support for investment in research and innovation. Many of the industrial sectors with the greatest growth potential are dependent on sufficient long-term investment in R&D and innovation. Maintaining our competitive advantage means continued protection of spending on science in the 2015-16 Spending Round. When public finances allow, we’d like to see the same protection offered to the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which plays a crucial role in supporting commercialisation. Public funding for research and innovation helps to catalyse private investment – we think there’s a lot more government can do on the margins to keep investment in the UK, and stimulate additional investment in our research base by UK and foreign-based companies.
  • Secondly, by tilting the debate towards the importance of science, technology, engineering and Maths (STEM). STEM graduates are needed not only to maintain key sectors, like manufacturing, engineering and creative industries but to drive future growth. With applications to study physical sciences, maths and engineering holding up well compared to other subjects, it may be that the dial is finally starting to move. But not quickly enough. A recent study by the Royal Academy of Engineering suggested that industry would need 830,000 new STEM professionals and 450,000 technicians between now and 2020. In reality, the UK currently produces only 90,000 STEM graduates a year. Working together, business and universities must take the opportunity to move debate beyond “STEM is good” to “STEM is a core element of the UK’s growth strategy, and there is a need for action now.”
  • Lastly, to maximise the potential of new routes to higher level skills. As business demand for higher level skills increases, universities have a real opportunity to capitalise on the availability of learning in increasingly flexible and attainable ways, particularly online. There’s no doubt that there are already some exciting collaborations between businesses, universities and colleges to deliver skills. For instance, take Jaguar Land Rover’s Technical Accreditation Scheme. Developed in collaboration with university partners, the programme enables employees to work towards Masters level qualifications through a series of business-relevant modules. The CBI is looking closely at what more businesses, universities and government can do to develop the market for work-based higher skill development.

The current economic context offers a huge opportunity for a major shift in how businesses and universities cooperate, working together to seize the benefits for economy and society. The potential pay-off is huge for all of us.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Mathematics. Source: (Flickr)

Image. Neil Carberry. CBINeil Carberry was appointed as Director in February 2011. Neil is responsible for setting out a framework of employment and skills policy that supports the CBI's ambition of making the UK a great place to invest and create jobs. Before becoming director, Neil spent four years as Head of Employment and Pensions Policy and he has previously worked in the CBI's public services team as Head of Public Procurement.

How Thomson Reuters Evidence–Based Assessment Solutions Are Helping Drexel University Grow

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image: Squishy Circuits. Model dinosaur made using conductive play dough. LED light in nose is lit up. Taken at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

A blog post by Dave Kochalko, Vice-President of Strategy and Business Development at Thomson Reuters Healthcare and Science

In the spring of 2012, as part of its annual 'Best Colleges' feature, US News ranked Philadelphia-based Drexel University at number three in its listing of “Up and Coming Schools,” based on its expert panel’s peer assessment of colleges that are “making the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, and student life.”

The challenge for Drexel, as for any educational or research institution, is to continue on an upward trajectory of growth and expansion, while also fostering an environment in which communication, connectivity, and convenience are enhanced for staff, and in which disparate professional activities and performance metrics across the institution can be easily unified and tracked.

To that end, Drexel has turned to Thomson Reuters solutions, including Research in View, an institution-wide system that aggregates, standardizes, and links data from multiple sources and formats to provide a database and analytic interview for viewing, searching and reporting on faculty service, teaching, research expertise and accomplishments.

A key concern for Drexel officials was facilitating collaboration among faculty—providing a means for researchers to identify colleagues involved in similar endeavors (inside as well as outside the University), and furnishing a central resource for tracking faculty activity and achievement. In addition to identifying potential collaborators, such a repository would provide a simpler means for faculty to record, maintain and share pertinent information for discussions involving annual performance evaluation, promotion and tenure.

Profiling in Research in View answers this need, supplying a CV-structured, user interface that provides search features and tools, allowing faculty to maintain and control their own research profiles, including privacy settings. Users have the option to receive automated alerts for new articles, grants, and patents matched to their profiles. Administrators, meanwhile, can identify groupings of faculty involved in related research, and can obtain an overview of activity at the level of individuals, groups, departments, schools, and the entire institution.

Another goal for Drexel officials was tracking progress and evaluating Drexel’s performance against current as well as aspirational peer institutions. Along these lines, Research in View integrates with external data sources, including all the knowledge resources of Thomson Reuters Web of Science and InCites, the web-based research evaluation tool. Thus, Drexel’s research output can be quantified and assessed in terms of its citation impact and other metrics, and these results compared against other institutions and world baselines.

As Drexel University Provost Mark Greenberg noted, “We have been looking for an easy solution to enable our faculty to identify local and global research collaborators and for our administrators to honour faculty professional activities and accomplishments as part of Drexel University’s commitment to fostering scholarship and creative work.”

With Research in View and InCites, Drexel is realising this goal: widening collaborative networks inside and outside the University, maximizing opportunities for partnership and growth, and creating a panoramic vantage point from which to assess the University’s intellectual resources and continue to steer Drexel toward the front ranks of educational institutions. These are tangible examples of technology driving growth in the scientific and scholarly ecosystem.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Squishy Circuits. Photo taken at The Academy of Natural Sciences, Drexel University. March 2013. Source: Flickr.


Image. Dave Kochalko Thomson Reuters

David Kochalko is Vice-President of Strategy and Business Development at Thomson Reuters Healthcare and Science.

May 16, 2013

Filling The TNE Black Hole

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Illustration: black hole on white background

A blog post by Michael Peak, Research Manager, Education and Society
the British Council

Transnational education (TNE) is increasingly seen as a growth area in international higher education (HE). ‘The shape of things to come’ forecast that international student mobility would slow over the years to 2020 but that overseas delivery of HE programmes (either through teaching partnerships with local providers or through international branch campuses) would grow in terms of the number of institutions participating, the variety of programmes on offer and the volume of students enrolling.

But little has been done to assess the impact of this form of education delivery on the host countries.

At Going Global, we presented our assessment of the evolution of TNE and the elements necessary to form an environment conducive to creating TNE opportunities. The main objectives and rationales for embracing TNE appear to have been met in the countries studied, and it is crucial that the ‘foreign’ institution is aware of the local cultural context and priorities for partnerships to have truly mutual and sustainable benefits.

Conducting this research was exploring ‘the TNE black hole’. For many host countries there is a lack of a clear strategic TNE policy, and related to this, there is a distinct lack of data at a national level on the institutions involved, and individuals enrolled, on TNE programmes.

Furthermore, it is incredible to consider that for an industry which is embraced by many nations, which reaches hundreds of thousands of students (in excess of 500,000 are enrolled on UK courses alone) there is very little in the way of an impact assessment.

TNE in its various forms can impact on individuals, institutions and nations in many areas:

  • Skills impact: TNE can help to fill skills gaps in host countries. The opportunities for skill development offered by TNE programmes making courses attractive to individual students and make TNE graduates attractive to potential employers and increase capacity.

    A possible flip side of this is that TNE could be seen to exacerbate brain drain, although through hosting TNEprogrammes some countries are positioning themselves as HE Hubs and indeed attract international students, and faculty, and retain local students.
  • Economic impact: TNE allows students to study (and gain international qualifications) whilst remaining in employment – having positive consequences for labour market efficiency and economic output.
  • Academic impact: Host country institutions can benefit from TNE partnerships with foreign providers through capacity building but TNE partnerships are most successful when structured for mutual benefit. By working in partnership they (could) effectively become more efficient, achieve more with the resources they have and provide opportunities to more students.
  • Socio-cultural impact: TNE can provide students and staff from both the host and the partner country with opportunities to gain an increased understanding of other cultures. A risk also has to be considered that the TNE activity could conflict with other host country higher education institutions (HEIs) and communities; and that ‘Western-centric’ approaches could be seen to be imposed on local HE systems.

The British Council is in a position to conduct some research into gauging the impact that TNE can have on the host nations, host institutions and individual students. But agencies and stakeholders must work together to increase the systematic collection of data and to improve the evidence base in this area.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Illustration of a black hole. Source (Flickr).


Michael Peak British CouncilMichael Peak is Research Manager, Education and Society, at the British Council. Since 2005, he has been researching international higher education for the Council and has developed and and managed research projects covering different aspects of international education including investigating student motivations, forecasting international student mobility patterns and researching global higher education policy.

Growth Through Technology

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/blogs/

Illustration: The village blogger: an edited version of Albert Anker

A blog post by Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn

A transformation is under way. Across the world, evidence grows of the power of technology to help bring education to the previously unreachable, the unconfident and the socially and economically excluded. The advent of MOOCs, especially since 2012, has brought the university experience into the homes of thousands of new students worldwide. Their ability to create whole new communities of educators and learners, on a scale incomparable with the physical university environment, marks this as more than just the gradual next stage of the digital evolution. In less than a year, edX alone has attracted 800,000 students from 192 countries. And here in the UK, we expect that FutureLearn, which has more than twenty of the UK’s top universities on board, will soon be attracting tens of thousands of students.

Yet it would be wrong to define this growth simply in technological terms. Rather, it is engineers’ appetites to work with visionary academics that ensures this technology delivers the thing great educators have always known to be important – captivating the audience.

But as this transformation takes its grip, challenges are emerging which anyone working in this space needs to consider. Amongst these is the role of the traditional university experience; is that in jeopardy as more and more people use technology to access education anywhere and at anytime? If, as I believe, this change serves to complement rather than replace the conventional, physical, and selective teaching experience by enthusing the next generation of university undergraduates, does it have the necessary staying power to achieve this? The wider digital landscape is blighted with examples of new ventures whose light shone all too briefly. In our world, providers have a lot to deliver if they are to avoid the same fate. Reproducing “lectures online” is unlikely to be enough for increasingly sophisticated online learners.

In light of these challenges, two things must be considered. Firstly, perhaps it is time to change our view of what does, and does not, pass muster in online learning. High quality online environments offer the opportunity for students to accumulate learning that potentially starts them on the road to the achievement of higher qualifications. In my view, this means creating courses and modules that are not only pedagogically sound but engaging and fun. With FutureLearn, learning will come in bite-sized chunks, where every step completed becomes a milestone to be celebrated. It will also be a truly social experience, where learners can gather in small, intimate groups to discuss their studies and find mutual interests and support.

Secondly, in order to make this happen, free online education needs to be something that brings learning in to peoples’ lives, not demands that they step out of their lives to take part. Study must be relevant as well as informative. Only then, will people feel inspired to come back again and again.

These are two of the ideas which are informing our development of FutureLearn and helping us to see the challenges facing our world differently.

The transformative power of technology when applied to education can be in no doubt. It is something that non-academic professions have been harnessing for years. In business, e-learning tools are now commonplace in staff training and assessment programmes. Advances in video production and broadcast software are allowing more organisations to use that format to share knowledge via live and on-demand webinars. And the exponential growth of social media platforms and digital communication vehicles continue to impact on our ability, and willingness, to search for and share knowledge.

Growth is here to stay; the next battle is to ensure that quantity comes with quality.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Photoillustration based on Albert Anker's 1894 oil on canvas Der Dorfschneider (The Village Tailor). The original is currently displayed at the Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Switzerland. Source: Flickr.


Photograph: Simon Nelson CEO of Future LearnSimon Nelson was an early pioneer in taking media brands and content online. Joining the BBC in 1997, he became Head of Strategy for BBC Radio in 1998. He went on to set up and manage all digital activities for BBC Radio & Music, where he launched its world-leading podcast service in 2005 as well as the Radio Player. He then moved to head up all digital activities for the BBC’s television divisions where he helped launch the iPlayer and built an award winning portfolio of online and cross platform services.

Since leaving the BBC, he has led a number of projects in TV, radio and publishing sectors for companies including Random House, UKTV, Specific Media and New York Public Radio. He currently oversees digital activities for Phaidon Press, a role he will retain whilst joining Futurelearn Ltd as CEO.

May 15, 2013

Trends in transnational education

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

The Palazzo Pesaro Papafava. University of Warwick in Venice

A blog post by Anthony McLaren, Chief Executive of the QAA

Following a number of years of rapid expansion, transnational education (TNE) today is a larger, more diverse area of higher education than ever in terms of numbers and types of students, global locations and models of provision. This growth has been fuelled by the internationalisation strategies of higher education providers, alongside the ambitions of host countries to improve their own education, skills and ultimately, economic competitiveness.

This period of expansion, however, is now being followed by growing international focus on how to ensure the quality of TNE provision. There seems to be broad consensus that the quality assurance of TNE globally needs to be strengthened, although there is less agreement on how that will be achieved.

In the UK, transnational education has expanded rapidly. Current data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows more than 120 UK higher education providers are now delivering TNE in diverse forms, which bring an accompanying increase in reputational risk and attention from government, policy makers, sector agencies and the sector itself.

From a quality assurance perspective, agencies internationally and their governments are now looking at how they can pool resources and increasingly work in partnership in order to cover TNE; this is a trend which is likely to continue. As an example, QAA now has memoranda of understanding and agreement with a number of international agencies in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and, most recently, Australia and Dubai. This is critical, as the fast-growing number of TNE students seek information and assurances, not only about the quality of the education they are receiving but also, increasingly, about issues around recognition of awards.

At QAA, we have been conducting reviews of UK TNE since 1997, to assure the quality and reputation of UK higher education internationally and to support, secure and maintain the academic standards of UK provision. Additionally, UK institutions today are subject not only to the UK’s quality assurance frameworks and required processes for transnational education, but also increasingly to the regulatory frameworks in the country of delivery, especially where provision involves partnership with local institutions.

Over time, the review methods used by QAA for transnational education have evolved. QAA’s most recent review of TNE took place in November and December 2012, when the Agency reviewed the delivery of UK higher education in China. The reports on this review are published in May 2013. The review in China was also used to test review elements for a new QAA method and accompanying handbook for TNE review – a significant step forward in the formalisation of a UK quality assurance framework for TNE which should be in place for the 2014-15 academic year.

However, we need to go further. As we look to assure the future quality of global transnational education, there are significant challenges to overcome, not least how quality assurance will be funded on a secure footing going forward. Also, who is ultimately responsible for the quality of TNE – the provider? The home country quality assurance agency? Or the agency in the host country? And how do we resolve the logistical challenges presented as TNE continues to grow at a rapid rate, to ensure we can continue to assure it robustly and protect the interests of students around the world? QAA will be working with the sector and funding bodies over the next few months to explore, consult and agree on how the quality assurance of TNE provision can be strengthened.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: The Palazzo Pesaro Papafava. University of Warwick in Venice.


Photograph: Anthony McLaren, Chief Executive of the QAAAnthony has been Chief Executive of QAA since October 2009 and was previously Chief Executive of UCAS, based in Cheltenham.

A graduate in English and American Literature from the University of Kent, his career has included senior academic administration and management posts at the Universities of Warwick and Hull.

Anthony has held numerous governance positions across the school and university sectors, and was a member of the Council of the University of Gloucestershire (and its Chair from 2007-09) and a governor of the National Star College. He was appointed chair of the new All Saints' Academy in Cheltenham in 2011. From 2009-2011 he chaired the Employment and Skills Advisory Committee of Gloucestershire First (now GFirst) and served on its board. He is a freeman of the Company of Educators, a member and trustee of the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire, and a trustee of the Summerfield Trust.