Behind the scenes at Going Global

The British Council’s Going Global is an annual conference for leaders of international education where local, national, regional and global agendas meet. This year, 12 Scottish universities are participating in the conference. To give you a flavour of what’s happening at the conference, we have a series of blogs from Samantha Lister, Assistant Registrar at the University of St Andrews.

Tuesday 14 May 9.30pm

It’s the end of day two at Going Global, and it has been a long, but productive, couple of days.

The first parallel sessions took place yesterday afternoon, and I attended an interesting panel session on ‘Global Mobility’ which focused on the barriers to outward mobility and what institutions can do to help students overcome them.

Professor Bob Gilmour flew the flag for Scotland with a presentation on the success of short-term mobility projects at Glasgow Caledonian University. The session included group discussions and my table had delegates from the UK, US, Tunisia and South Africa, which made for an interesting discussion and varied perspectives on student mobility. While language skills and confidence seem a perennial challenge in the UK and US, it was interesting to hear that Tunisian students are taught French, English and Arabic from primary school, and that in the Tunisian context, a more significant barrier is the challenge of mapping qualification equivalencies to support study abroad.

I really enjoyed the session and I thought it raised some interesting questions about mobility as well as internationalisation at home.

The evening reception was a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues from across the sector, and to make new contacts. I particularly enjoyed the welcome to Berlin from Professor Angela Ittel who discussed the work of the Berlin University Alliance and the importance of co-operation in opening up new opportunities.

This morning the Scottish contingent at Going Global had an early start, with an 8am breakfast session on ‘Scotland in Europe’.

After a lot of planning between the British Council, Universities Scotland, and a couple of Scottish unis, it was great to see this session come to life.

Prof. Pamela Gillies, Principal of GCU, Rachel Sandison, Vice-Principal at Glasgow and Prof. Brad MacKay, Vice-Principal at St Andrews all highlighted the longstanding and deep cultural and intellectual connections between Scotland and Europe, the vibrancy of our research and teaching connections today, and the value of continued collaboration for all of us.

In the context of Brexit, these messages are all the more important, and it was great to hear Prof. Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of the GUILD network share our commitment and enthusiasm for working in partnership.

The rest of the day was filled with sessions, meetings and networking over coffee, as well as a few minutes here and there catching up with emails and work back home. Brad MacKay and I met with a colleague from the Freie Universität Berlin, part of the Europaeum network, of which St Andrews is also a member. It was great to have an introductory meeting and to start exploratory discussions about the potential for developing collaborative projects.

This evening most of the Scottish representatives attended the UK-EU showcase reception, which was held at the British Embassy. The embassy provided a cracking venue and the event was another great opportunity to build relationships and share good practice.

A number of collaborative projects were showcased through a poster display, and I especially enjoyed hearing about the Get Set Go project presented by colleagues from Mainz, which is run in partnership with a number of Scottish institutions and which facilitates language learning and teaching between Germany and Scotland.

This is my first Going Global conference, and so far it has been both enjoyable and useful. Looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions and events!