Going global

The importance of international collaboration for borderless education

International collaboration is synonymous with excellent research.

The UK is currently a world leader in delivering education and research internationally, with an ever-expanding international offering, which impacts both at home and abroad. And that’s before we acknowledge the huge economic benefit international students bring to the UK, along with fresh talent, ideas and skills.

International partnerships between universities are beneficial to all, from the staff and students to employers. International students coming to the UK to study now generate more than £25 billion for the economy and provide a significant boost to regional jobs and local businesses.

The old saying rings true: "What's good for the students is good for the university."

The number of students choosing to study internationally is growing and, for this reason, it is only logical that institutions would want to ensure they embrace a global culture to continue attracting applicants.

Since the triggering of Article 50, and the UK's looming exit from the EU, the landscape of university education is in a state of uncertainty regarding research and international collaboration. We’ve been warned that there is a danger that British students would risk becoming more "insular" and less exposed to European cultures on the continent.

In thinking about the future, the UK’s existing track record of successfully building relationships and collaborating with non-EU countries provides reassurance. The government is also on record saying that higher education will be a central piece in the strategy for boosting the export industry of post-Brexit Britain. Now is the time for universities across Britain to take full advantage of this opportunity to develop new, and enhance existing, relationships with institutions around the world.

One needs to look only to the recent growth in international branch campuses to see this in action.

With campuses in London, Malaysia and Singapore Newcastle University is truly embracing its international population: reaping the benefits for their local area and adding £1.1 billion to the economy in the UK. This month one of our leading education titles, University Business, reported that the University of Leicester's first international Institute, in China, offering dual degrees in STEM subjects opens this month. The Institute is the result of a partnership between Leicester and leading Chinese University: Dalian University of Technology. Head of College Professor Paul Monks, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science and Engineering at the University of Leicester said, "For UK students, there is a real incentive to get an international education in one of the fastest growing economies in the world."

Developing partnerships with overseas institutions is another area in which the UK has previously excelled. Five of the UK's top 10 collaboration partners around the world are from outside of the EU. One of these is Switzerland, whose scientific research institutions are consistently recognised as being the highest quality in the world.

Some may question whether it is possible to maintain such partnerships in such an internationally competitive marketplace. However, by recruiting more international students higher education institutions can build and strengthen the range of collaborative activities with their partners - increasing staff exchange, collaborative research and mutual programme development.

Above all, international collaboration should be treated as an important contributor to our expansive, multicultural society. We are a world leader in education and we need to stay ahead of the game.

Do you agree that we have more to gain through growth in international collaboration? Share your views by tweeting us @Wildfire_C or heading to our Facebook page @WildfireComms .

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