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International update with Prof Helen Higson: May 2010

International update with Professor Helen Higson

This month, Professor Helen Higson talks to Aspects about the fourth ‘Going Global’ conference held in London at the end of March and why this conference is so important to the University.

‘World potential: making education meet the challenge’ was the theme for this year’s annual British Council Going Global conference at which key leadership and policy challenges facing individual institutions, governments and communities worldwide were considered and discussed.

The conference, attended by over 1000 delegates from 70 countries had four themes:

·         Staff and student mobility

·         Global partnerships

·         Global citizens

·         Policy and leadership

Helen explains: “Aston has always attended the conference, but this was the first time the University has participated. This is fantastic as it demonstrates Aston’s growing international reputation and just how far the University has come in terms of international engagement. It is an intense conference with over 40 sessions and 200 speakers. It is important for us to be there as the networking opportunities are huge; by bringing everyone together under one roof, you can develop relationships with other institutions without having to leave the UK!”

Aston University participated in four ways. The Vice Chancellor gave a presentation as part of a session entitled ‘Inclusion in education: responding to changing societies’ which explored supporting diversity. There were three other speakers at the session: Dr Imad M Alatiqi (Secretary General, Private Universities Council, Kuwait), Professor Saeeda Asadullah Khan (Vice Chancellor, Fatima Jinah Women University, Pakistan) and Professor Mohammad Osman Babury (Deputy Minister for Higher Education & former Rector, Kabul University, Afghanistan). As part of this group Julia King’s presentation was ‘Accessible Excellence: The Aston Way’ which looked at widening participation at Aston and how this agenda has helped increase the University’s international recruitment and support to international students.

“David Tobin (International Officer) and I produced a poster which was presented by Aston’s Director of Marketing Stewart Comfort and it was very well received! Our poster, ‘Changed our life: 12 students went to Korea’, showed the opportunities we have been able to provide through  Prime Minister Initiative funding, by enabling students to attend a six-week summer school or a full year abroad in Korea.”

As 60% of conference delegates were from overseas, visits to UK universities were organised to coincide with the conference and Aston was chosen as a host destination for Vice-Chancellors from East Asia. “It meant that we were able to welcome Vice-Chancellors and other guests from Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam,” said Helen. “They were given a tour of the campus, visited Schools and were given presentations by key figures within the University. As a result of this visit some collaboration work is already happening!”

The final way that the University took part in this conference was through discussions about the development of a new international Vietnamese university. “Dr John Fletcher (EAS) represented Aston University at this meeting and as a result we have put in an expression of interest for developing this new institution by helping with to develop the curriculum, quality assurance and administration of this new university.” Aspects will keep you up to date with this exciting collaboration! 

More about Going Global.

Words by Louise Russell

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