HEGlobal – helping UK higher education internationalise?

International advice for Higher Education

HEGlobal, the new portal for helping universities develop transnational education capability, has launched:

There is a consensus across government that engaging in and promoting international education and skills is strategically important to the UK for three main reasons: firstly it presents potentially significant commercial opportunities; secondly, it is an important soft power tool which supports the UK’s image abroad; thirdly, integrally linked to the above, it is key to maintaining the reputation of the UK education sector as one of the best in the world. However, although the UK’s education and skills sector is already doing well internationally, evidence suggests that we risk not taking full advantage of growing global opportunities. Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and elsewhere want to improve coordination across government by tasking the UK Higher Education International Unit to lead on a sector-wide initiative to do more to help UK higher education institutions (HEIs) increase their transnational education (TNE) capability.

An admirable initiative? Maybe. There is a useful set of links to relevant agencies together with brief profiles of a lot of countries in which universities might be interested. But this feels very much like a starter pack for institutions completely new to international activity. Nothing particularly wrong with that except that I’m not sure there are many institutions which aren’t in a significantly more advanced position than the target level of the advice. So it does raise the question about the audience for this site.

The FAQ section gives a bit more information about the intentions here:

HEGlobal has been established to act as a gateway to information sources, advice and guidance on all elements of transnational education (TNE) from finance through to in-country market intelligence and on-the-ground expertise. There is a substantial amount of support and expertise available to the sector already. HEGlobal has been designed to bring together information on all sources of available support in one place, thereby raising sector awareness, as well as signposting individual institutions to sources of further assistance on a range of relevant topics including finance, strategy, legal and quality insurance.

HEGlobal consists of a website which documents the services and information available to the sector on TNE, as well as a telephone helpline and email inquiry function.

It is not a centralised repository for all research and data on TNE, but instead brings together a range of sector stakeholders providing support to higher education institutions in developing their TNE activities. HEGlobal is a sector-led initiative and one of its greatest strengths is its intelligence-gathering function. By providing a mechanism for the sector to highlight existing needs, HEGlobal will facilitate the development of additional resources for the higher education sector to complement and enhance those already available.

Again, it is hard to see what this gateway is offering beyond what universities have already done for themselves or have the capacity to undertake. On the face of it, this all looks good and useful. In practice though it seems unlikely, in its present form, that it will offer a huge amount of value to institutions. Even those with small-scale TNE activities will probably not find a huge amount of new information here.

But what this really exposes though is the contradiction in policy between supporting this form of internationalisation whilst at the same time imposing visa regulations which hamper international student recruitment to the UK and give the impression that we aren’t open for business.

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5 thoughts on “HEGlobal – helping UK higher education internationalise?

  1. So, HE Global gives UK HE another brand, whilst being a good info source. The public value depends on what it costs as well as what it might/does deliver. Doubt whether we’ll ever see that type of analysis in the public domain. Of course, makes it easier for mandarins and politicians to point to how UKHE is being promoted internationally.

    But surely, there must be a risk of diminishing returns to this- as you say. most (almost all?) Univs will already have some presence or networks abroad, for generating new business. And it must make it a lot harder for us all, if UK Gov’t continues to make it harder for potential students to get visas, or balance their personal finances once here e.g. by staying on after graduation for a while to pay off loans. Or does UK Gov’t really think there are hundreds of thousands of benefactors/banks/rich families champing at the bit to provide £50K of risky venture capital for the budding international entrepreneur?

    Kevan’s views are purely personal.

  2. ‘Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and elsewhere want to improve coordination across government’

    The fact that a key Ministry is conspicuous by its absence surely tells us what we need to know here.

  3. Not only is the govt making it more difficult for international students to come to study here, the visa regulations make it virtually impossible for PhD students at overseas institutions to visit in order to work with departments here (if anyone thinks the ‘student visitor’ visa will fit the bill, think again…). Not to mention the restrictions on visiting artists/academics. All of these things give the impression that we really don’t want to work across national borders.

  4. It’s such a pity that the current UK Gov’t seems to want to adopt a schizophrenic attitude to International Students and, perhaps also for visiting researchers too. Makes it so difficult for them to come here and really does discourage collaborations. This is in total contrast to the expressed views of the Westminster Edu Secretary, who, as Malcolm Gillies pointed out recently in a THE column, is on record as saying that we are in an age when knowledge and collaboration internationally is going to give key competitive advantages. So it’s okay to collaborate, just as long as our chums don’t want to come here, or send their Pg Students here, unless they are extremely rich. Whatever happened to recognising excellence wherever it is found!

  5. Pingback: Yet more support to help UK HE internationalise? | Registrarism

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