The University of Bath is delighted to have taken part in this year’s AUA Study Tour.
The Association of University Administrators (AUA) brings together professionals working in Higher Education from across the UK. Each year, the AUA and its International Higher Education Network (IHEN), runs a Study Tour. Study Tours have spanned a number of countries in recent years, with tours to the USA and Japan in 2019, and Sweden and Poland the previous year. These tours provide opportunities for UK universities to learn about the education systems abroad, exchange ideas and gain knowledge and understanding from other institutions.
This year, the higher education sector, like much of the rest of the world, has been turned on its head. The global pandemic has had a massive impact on universities, who have had to adapt the way they are working while still continuing to work towards the same objectives. The AUA, recognising this, continued discussions into the internationalisation of higher education and decided that they would go ahead with this year’s study tour, albeit in a different format. David Law, chair of the IHEN, stated that “the internationalisation of HE will not be halted by the crisis. We should use the unusual circumstances to continue to develop our professional engagement. If we cannot travel, then let’s turn that to our benefit and get together on a Virtual Study Tour”*.
This year’s tour was focussed on the Sino-British partnerships in Transnational Education (TNE). Members of the AUA, including University of Bath staff Tracey Stenson Jukes and Jessica Carwardine, met with important members of the Chinese higher education system and representatives of UK Universities active in TNE. Tracey and Jessica outlined two key phases of discussions:
- A general discussion on Sino-British Transnational Education as a topic
- The discussion of specific partnerships between British universities and their Chinese counterparts, focusing on the formation of Joint Education Institutes.
These discussions gave the University of Bath members the opportunity to learn the key benefits of these Sino-British partnerships, as well as the challenges they have faced. They were a chance to look at what it takes to set up these programmes, the ways in which it can be done quickly and efficiently, and the importance of background information and mitigating risks. The discussions with institutions who have not established a TNE provision gave an important insight into the making of this decision.
There were a number of positives that came out of the study tour being made virtual this year. The ability to have quicker, virtual meetings allowed for a larger number and wider range of participants, with often higher profile participants, including political involvement with discussions from both the UK and China.
Both Jessica and Tracey sited the openness and trust from participants from across the globe. They recounted a real happiness to share their learnings and felt that there were honest conversations across most of the virtual meetings.
The University is delighted that we can continue to collaborate and learn through projects like the study tour. In a time where travel is limited, it is important that internationalisation continues to be at the forefront of our thinking, and we are proud to have worked with AUA members on this.
The AUA members who took part in the study tour have collaborated in the creation of a report on their learnings. This report will be launched during an online AUA event on Thursday 11 February, and Tracey and Jessica hope to share more information with interested Bath staff at an AUA Lunchtime lecture after this date.
* David Law (2020) AUA: International Higher Education Network. Available at: https://aua.ac.uk/virtual-study-tour-opportunity/