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Minister backs UK edtech sector – Bett 2020

The UK edtech sector can play a “fundamental role” in the country’s educational exports, the UK universities minister Chris Skidmore has said.

The minister reiterated the importance of edtech in raising the profile of UK education at a global scale Photo: The PIE News

"For us, Brexit represents an opportunity: a new era of global collaboration"

Speaking at the 2020 Bett Show in London, the minister reiterated the importance of edtech in raising the profile of UK education at a global scale as it featured as a key component in the UK’s international education strategy, released in 2019.

“I believe that edtech can play a fundamental role in increasing the profile of UK education”

“For us, Brexit represents an opportunity: a new era of global collaboration,” he said.

“We’ll be looking to forge even closer ties with partners across the world in all areas. But especially in edtech, so that we can learn from each other and drive innovation forward everywhere.

“I believe that edtech can play a fundamental role in increasing the profile of UK education abroad, and that is why edtech features so prominently in the education strategy,” he added.

The minister praised edtech as a method to counter essay mills, which “have the potential to undermine the wider integrity of higher education right across the world”.

He cited university partnerships with companies such as US company Turnitin, which develop plagiarism detection software while Nottingham Trent University’s wellbeing dashboard is also helping to “spot students who may be struggling in the new environment”.

Technology like this could make a “real difference”, Skidmore explained.

In the UK, UCL’s six-month mentoring and consultancy EDUCATE program has “worked tirelessly over the past three years” to help edtech startup develop products that will improve teaching and learning in schools.

It has helped 270 companies in the UK up until now, and in 2020 it will begin franchising the program to international universities, Skidmore noted.

“They will be building an impressive new digital edtech support community that I believe will benefit everyone involved,” he said.

The minister also praised UK edtech for opportunities it offers for some of the most marginalised countries in the world.

The UK’s department of international development has been working on a number of projects, including an app for teachers in northern Nigeria to offer advice, support and free classroom materials.

Skidmore added that the UK government’s EdTech Hub in collaboration with the World Bank, British universities, global education experts and the Gates Foundation forms the “largest-ever edtech research and innovation projects”, and ensures that the UK is “helping these communities in the best way we can”.

“So, as you can see, the UK is doing a number of things on a variety of different levels to lead on the world stage—and to forge ever-closer ties with other countries so that we can make the most of the technological revolution together,” he added

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