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Big appetite to build equitable partnerships at Going Global

There is a real sense of hunger for partnerships that are built into a “long-term” strategy, stakeholders said at a conference for leaders in higher education. 
November 27 2023
4 Min Read

There is a real sense of hunger for partnerships that are built into a “long-term” strategy, stakeholders said at a conference for leaders in higher education. 

Going Global 2023, which was held by the British Council in Edinburgh from November 20-22, saw high-ranking officials from institutions, providers and ministries of education across the globe attend to delve into how to foster scaleable and equitable partnerships in HE. 

Gillian Keegan, the UK’s secretary of state for education, made an appearance opening the conference, urging delegates to make the most of the event for the sake of the sector.

Quoting research analytics expert Jonathan Adams, she said we were now entering the “fourth age of research driven by international collaborations”. 

“Adams showed that we were collaborating more and that those countries and institutions that developed international collaborations increased their impact. 

“It made us all richer – if you’re better connected, then you react quicker and you pull ahead in the global race.

“You’ll share knowledge and challenge ideas, and I know it will help us all to improve our education systems, which will help improve many people’s lives across the world,” Keegan continued. 

Beatrice Muganda Inyangala, principal secretary in the Kenyan State Department for Higher Education and Research, highlighted in a session on gender diversity that the country had reached gender parity at university level, with 43% of those studying at universities there, but that only 33% of those in science are women.

She urged on a wider scale that higher education and TNE needed to be more purposeful in its goals in funnelling through students. 

“We have to examine what some of the areas are that hinder that upward movement into the higher education sector – and it’s higher education for what? We must confront the linkage to the labour market,” she noted. 

Paying more attention to country-specific context to succeed in TNE and in partnerships was a key message across the conference. 

Matias Marin, the director of international relations at the Universidad Catolica de Manizales and chair of Colombian Network for Internationalisation of Higher Education, said synergies were important on the continent, but in Colombia, values are vital – and they are stuck to, especially given the landscape around equity in partnerships.

“We believe that are good opportunities for bringing quality education into the country but it also brings tension. 

“This comes from the fact that sometimes it is perceived that this need comes from a deficiency on our side, that we don’t have enough quality for instance, in our programs,” Marin noted. 

Others on the panel noted the deficiency with TNE in Latin America, given the fact that joint degrees and dual degrees have been set up in multiple countries including Peru and Brazil, but they’re sending students and not receiving them back – reinforcing the sense that there is a lack of reciprocity.

“We can only rise above challenges by working in partnership,” Maddalaine Ansell, director education at the British Council, told The PIE. 

“The partnerships have got to be real; they’ve got to be trust based; they’ve got to be equal; they’ve got to be sustainable in the sense that both sides are committed to something for the long term,” she reiterated. 

Christopher Maiyaki, acting executive secretary of administration at the National Universities Commission in Nigeria – which launched its TNE guidelines at the conference, the contents of which are yet to be made public – said that the country needed to “not just want to be on the receiving end” in terms of TNE.  

“Let us have a holistic approach to the education system so that we don’t keep wasting our money”

“We don’t want to operate on precarious ground, there has to be reciprocity, and we must take into account the local context, and the peculiarities of where we are,” he said during the conference. 

Multiple agreements were also made behind closed doors during the conference, including a deal between the University of Aberdeen and Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh, and Keegan met with officials from Nigeria to talk about the expansion of the country’s relationship in the sector.

Andrea Nolan, vice chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, said the institution was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its TNE partnership with an institution in Hong Kong.

“We established it before Edinburgh Napier became a university. We were only established as an institution for about 10 years and already the staff community at that time saw the benefit of engaging people in other countries,” Nolan told The PIE.

Rounding out the conference, a panel of youth experts from various African countries – moderated by BBC anchor Lukwesa Burak – called on their governments to really examine the education systems in place and whether they’re still even fit for purpose. 

“There is no curriculum that supports the labour requirements of the market, but most importantly, the aspiration of African youths that reflects in 2023 economy. 

“As far as I’m concerned, the curriculum right now in Nigeria I guess is still in the 1980s, so we have to break it down,” said Tope Sanni, head of operations at Pawstudios Africa, who pivoted her education in agricultural sciences to pursue business and marketing.

“If you’re better connected, then you react quicker and you pull ahead in the global race”

“Let us have a holistic approach to the education system so that we don’t keep wasting our money,” she urged. 

Aloysius Tumusiime, a postgraduate student from Rwanda studying at LSE, reiterated a need for a value-driven approach – noting that in schools, they are not specifically taught – empathy, honesty, compassion, and greed, he said. 

“Some of the young people are not able to manage the resources given to them by the investors. 

“So how do we learn to value the value of our careers? By being ethical leaders, and this need to be incorporated into our education not only for us, but also for the institutions that are passing this to us,” he declared.

Going Global will return in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2024.

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