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U21: HE leaders drill in on student experience

Global higher education leaders gathered in Birmingham, UK, to plan for a better future student experience.

Delegates from U21 universities gather on the University of Birmingham campus. Photo: Nicola Gotts

"The network brings together leading global universities to further improve the student experience and help researchers better engage with each other, whilst creating innovative educational opportunities"

The Universitas21 Annual General Meeting brought together “leading global universities” in a bid to “further improve the student experience and help researchers better engage with each other, whilst creating innovative educational opportunities”, according to Adam Tickell, vice chancellor and principal professor at the University of Birmingham, where the event was held.

Danny Sriskandarajah, CEO of Oxfam, opened proceedings with his keynote speech focused on the meeting’s theme, “The Leaders of the Future”, and the day continued with discussions surrounding changing student experiences within refugee camps, the future impact of Artificial Intelligence and young people working together to tackle UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“This event and the symposium, in particular, provided a valuable opportunity to reflect on how knowledge, ideas, and opportunities within the U21 network will help our global community of students build a better future,” Tickell added.

U21 provost professor, Jenny Dixon, spoke on the importance of the theme, describing it as “especially significant as the world continues to battle the pandemic, address issues of sustainability, and tackle the impacts of climate change,” and citing these as “all critically pertinent to the next generation of young leaders, who are passionate about the future of humanity”.

The membership of U21 spans 18 nations, six continents and is made up of over a million students and more than 200,000 staff – representing 28 universities. Of those, 24 were represented in person in Birmingham with others joining meetings remotely.

The first in-person U21 Annual General Meeting in three years was especially momentous as this year marks 25 years of the network.

Speaking on the milestone, Dixon said, “We are a global network committed to global connectedness through education and research”.

“For 25 years we have pursued this, deepening relationships, learning from each other, believing in the value of shared knowledge and experience and supporting students, researchers and staff to be globally engaged and empowered,” she added

“As the world faces current challenges, our network’s commitment to our founding principles is unwavering.”

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