This Guide to UK higher education and partnerships, commissioned by the UK Higher Education International and Europe Unit serves as a starting point for overseas institutions interested in establishing collaborations with UK higher education institutions (HEIs).
The UK higher education sector has a long, and distinguished track record of establishing sustainable partnerships with overseas institutions. They range from single faculty student and staff exchanges, dual and joint degrees and accreditation, through to world-class research collaborations. Such diversity means there is a wide choice for potential collaborative partners; but it is vital that interested parties are matched to the right institution for their particular needs and interests.
The Guide is aimed at staff working in universities around the world where there is an interest and willingness to collaborate with the UK. It offers a narrative on the history of UK higher education, the role of internationalisation, a summary of the different types of collaborative activity in which HEIs are engaged, and the key issues to consider such as visa and immigration laws and the legal regulation of partnerships.
Our previous reports have addressed specific needs of the UK HE sector when engaging internationally: our Legal Guide offered invaluable information on the laws and regulations of international partnerships while our Guide to Offshore Staffing Strategies provided advice on recruiting the best staff for overseas operations. This Guide is directed at potential overseas partners, offering an ‘all you need to know’ to engagement with UK HE.
Despite significant changes to the UK HE in the past year, most notably the visa and immigration rules and the tuition fees system, we still believe that international activities add to the cultural and academic richness of our sector. We are still very much ‘open for business’; still keen to develop new partnerships, exchange staff and students and collaborate on ground-breaking research. Without these activities, UK universities would not be what they are today – establishments of high-quality teaching and research with culturally diverse staff and student populations.
The benefits of a successful collaboration are many. Not only do linked institutions share knowledge and expertise, they also offer staff and students opportunities to study and work overseas, creating graduates who are ready to work in a global marketplace. To be successful, ventures must necessarily be selective, focused and grounded in academic excellence. In order to justify the investment made in them, international collaborations need to be sustainable for the long term, mutually beneficial and capable of generating complete trust and confidence between partners.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the authors of this report, Professor Steve Baskerville, Fiona MacLeod and Nicholas Saunders as well Jo Attwooll, Carolyn Campbell, Catherine Marston, Professor Robin Middlehurst and Professor Paul Webley who also contributed. Without their knowledge and expertise, this report would not have been published.
I hope that this Guide will help overseas partners increase their understanding of UK higher education and that UK institutions will use it in their international activities, giving both sides the information needed to establish successful, long term partnerships.
Dr Joanna Newman
UK Higher Education International and Europe Unit