All entries for Sunday 19 May 2013

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.

Growth
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.

Innovations
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.

Employees
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).

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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

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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.


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