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Showing posts from April, 2013

U-Aspire: Another Update

I travel again today, first to Bangladesh for a brief visit and then to India. It is all work, seven cities in about three weeks, with a schedule mostly packed with meetings and early morning or late evening flights. And, like all times, despite the heat, work pressure and slightly haphazard nature of this visit, I am still looking forward to go to India again.
Working with Indian Higher Education institutions is incredibly difficult, because most has nothing to do with Higher Education at all. There are two kinds of institutions i commonly come across in India: One, a set of institutions obsessed with their own prestige, so elitist that they would put put Oxford and Cambridge to shame; and, others, mostly private, who are not interested in the process of education at all, and mostly want to confer degrees for a price. To have a proper conversation about things such as curriculum or pedagogic approach is well beyond the interest of the latter; the former do not want to engage in a co…

International Students in British Universities: Time To Start Thinking

I participated in a discussion on International Students in British Universities yesterday, organised by the Society of Research in Higher Education (SRHE) Policy Network. This was at the London Metropolitan University, which is where Policy Network events always happen: However, the university being at the eye of the storm of the immigration debate over the last few months, the event assumed a particular, if unspoken, significance. As usual, it was very well organised - one tends to meet very interesting people and gets to hear perspectives never previously thought of - and presented a friendly and open environment for everyone, a fairly mixed audience, to participate.
This post is not so much about what was discussed. I am in no position to write any comprehensive summary, and have no intention to report on what was primarily an open and frank conversation. However, there are a number of broad issues that came up and are worth considering within an wider audience.
First, there was …

On Permanent Recession

It has now become a habit: A turn in the stock market, followed by as much excitement as possible on the TV and predictions on the newspapers that finally world economy is turning a corner. This then is followed by the trivial and the ordinary, politicians trying to claim that they are in charge of the future, daily chores submerging the global trends, an odd story of million dollar acquisitions breaking the gloom just a little - and then bad news returns in force, a triple-dip recession, an anaemic job market, another nation tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, a storied company shutting the door. This is followed by more claims from the politicians, that they are in charge of the future and what we need is more of the same, and then another cycle begins.
This seems like events, moving forward, but the truth is that we are getting used to our own stories, that we shall get over with this recession with a bit of time, that it is all our past folly and that of governments long voted o…

Towards a 'Global University'

U-Aspire is meant to be a 'Global University'. It is not unduly ambitious: This is indeed the plan. It is not just rhetoric: This is an article of faith in the founding team that a platform must be created to serve the groundswell of global aspiration. 
Higher Education is an innovator's paradise now, as most people seem to agree that it is broken. The Higher Ed sector collectively may not have made a smooth transition to post-industrial economy, and the need to do so is urgent. And, this transition will change everything: Not just the institutional structures and cost of delivery, which is a huge problem, but also the academic roles and cultures, and deeper embedded values. This isn't about public and private, whether or not Higher Ed should be a business, but really about finding a way to equip a global, aspirational, mobile generation, a generation of 'Makers', as Chris Anderson will call them.
In context, 'Global University' isn't a grand ambit…

A Programme for Global Employability

We have been working on a programme for 'Global Employability' for a while . The shape of it now finally crystallising, after labouring on for several weeks and exploring various different ideas.
This is indeed as much a statement about our approach to education as it is about the subject matter of employability. We have researched the area quite extensively, particularly as we had to explore not just what it means in the UK, but also what it signifies in our key target markets, such as India. We find a pattern, a pattern that we were keen to break away from. Most of the programmes we reviewed takes employability in some sort of old fashioned, static sense, which is no longer valid in our crisis-prone post-recession world [As the entrepreneur and author Tim Clark says, Career is a verb now!] What we do at U-Aspire is solely focused on preparing our students for this, contemporary, world of work. Our starting point is to align with a world shaped by possibilities…

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