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International update with Professor Helen Higson: September 2010

Professor Helen Higson

In this month’s international column Professor Helen Higson tells Aspects about the Prime Minister’s Initiative and how PMI funding is helping to develop Aston’s international activities and reputation abroad.

The Prime Minister's Initiative for International Education, known as PMI2, is a five year strategy which aims to secure the UK’s position as a leader in international education. Launched by Prime Minister Tony Blair in April 2006, PMI2 was developed in consultation with the education sector to build on the success of the first PMI, which had come to an end having achieved its targets in 2005.

It has been recognised that international students were important in enhancing international relations and bringing long-term political and economic benefits to the UK. As a result, the objective of the first  PMI in 1999 was to increase the number of international students following a UK education.  

The current PMI2 targets are to:

  • Increase the number of international students in the UK so that there are 70,000 international students in UK higher education; and 30,000 in further education

  • Double the number of countries sending more than 10,000 students to the UK each year

  • Ensure international students have a positive experience of their UK studies by demonstrating improvements in student satisfaction ratings

  • Achieve growth in the number of partnership between the UK and other countries.

The further and higher education sectors, and the English language sector, are working with the Government and the British Council to provide nearly £7m a year to fund activity in support of these strategic aims.

The countries identified by the PMI as priority countries are: Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), Ghana, Gulf States (including Saudi Arabia), India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, USA and Vietnam. Aston has chosen to focus on Korea, Japan, India and Vietnam.

Aston has made bids for a number of project themes (student exchange, staff mobility, programme development, research and employability). To date, Aston has received around £60,000 of PMI funding which has been used to support a wide range of initiatives and projects. Aston PMI funded projects include:

  • A virtual international careers fair for Indian students. This was hosted for the West Midlands by Aston’s Careers & Employability Centre and matched employers with students.

  • As a result of an all School mission to Vietnam last year where LSS and LHS identified the need for English language support. PMI funding was received to provide English language training for Vietnamese medical staff by the Centre for English Language and Communication at Aston (CELCA) and it is hoped this provision may be able to be rolled out to other areas.

  • A research project between Aston Business School and University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) looking at supply chain management in Thailand has also been funded through the initiative. Earlier this month a workshop entitled  ‘Issues and Challenges of Managing Supply Chain in Thai Industries’ led by Dr Prasanta Dey and Prof David Bennett in collaboration with UTCC took place in Bangkok as part of the project.

  • A successful student exchange with Korea University in Seoul. Katharina Boden, an Aston MSc Marketing Management student, has recently attended the annual Korea University International Summer Camp. This is so successful that it is to be used as a case study by the British Council!

For further information, please contact the International Office on ext 4888.

Words by Louise Russell

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