The reception, part of Global Education Festival UK, saw over 100 stakeholders gather, network and listen to an impassioned speech by Lord Bilimoria – president of UKCISA, president of the CBI and Chancellor of the University of Birmingham.
“I am the third generation in my family to go to university here [in the UK]. Immigration has made this country,” he said.
Bilimoria spoke about the strength of the UK sector, yet nodded to further work to be done given 1 in 9 international students comes from China in the higher education sector.
He also introduced Sharif Safi, an Afghan Chevening Scholar who was able to come to the UK to study diplomacy through the scheme last year.
“We wish you the best of experience here at the London Metropolitan University,” Lord Bilimoria told the scholar during his speech, as he reflected on the breadth and quality of education on offer in the UK.
“The purpose of higher education is to create environments where students and staff of all nationalities can come together”
Lord Bilimoria nodded to another Lord present – Lord Johnson, who had served as education minister in 2019 – when discussing the importance of the post-study work route, and Johnson’s contribution to representing education interests in government.
Bilimoria also talked about his time as CBI president, an office he assumed on June 16, 2020.
“The experiences I have had have come to the fore in these two years,” he said. He explained that when India had a Covid crisis, the CBI rallied round with the UN high commissioner, and members provided oxygen cylinders, medical provisions and millions of dollars.
Similar initiatives are planned to support the Ukraine crisis. “We did that for India, why can’t we do it for Ukraine?”.
With a backdrop of the river Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral, delegates praised the evening in central London as a chance to meet peers working across the language teaching, independent schools, edtech and higher education industries.
“Global Education Festival is an opportunity for celebrating all the amazing things international education has to offer,” said Howells, assistant director of external affairs and Universities UK International.
“I feel part of the purpose of higher education is to create environments where students and staff of all nationalities, backgrounds, values and beliefs, can come together to exchange views in an open, respectful way,” he said.
“This is part of how we grow knowledge, broaden understanding and help make societies and the world a better place,” he added.
Amy Baker of The PIE also addressed delegates, celebrating the collegial approach to working together across various verticals within the industry.
See the gallery from the Global Education Festival UK 2022 networking event here.