Unfortunately this afternoon I was unable to make the debate by international students as I would have been very interested to hear about their experiences. By all accounts it was a lively and frank debate and highlighted some of the real success of an international education experience, as well as some of the more challenging aspects faced by international students. A number of delegates told me that this session was particularly worthwhile and I think it’s true that we should always remember that it is those who are learning that are at the heart of what we do.
Phil Baty gave a very interesting virtual talk on rankings with an emphasis on the Times Higher Education University rankings which are now in their 11th year. Whatever your opinion of rankings, and there has been a lot of debate in this area, there is no doubt that they play a significant part in student decision making process. Phil went on to say that an important characteristic of an average top 400 university was that it was internationally focused with clear strategic partnerships with business and Industry.
Professor Kim Langfield-Smith from Monash University added to this and said that in aiming to make Monash a truly global university they had focused on their global footprint and had invested in research, their infrastructure and quality teaching.
I finished off the day by learning more about Saudi Arabia which is has one of the highest spends on education in the world. Saudi Arabia is booming and institutions are encouraged to form partnerships with public and private institutions. The government has invested hugely in its scholarship programme but Cultural Attache Dr Abdulaziz BinTaleb also outlined some challenges in terms of the high population growth, the fact that 50% of the population is under 25 and the need to diversify.
I was also disappointed not to attend the IELTS happy hour, which I heard was a great do but I was fortunate enough to attend the IELTS 25th birthday party in London a few week’s ago which was also a great event – happy birthday IELTS!
Tomorrow is going to present hard choices in terms of which session to attend but I’m certainly looking forward to the first plenary on Gamification – interesting stuff!