Education providers still have a long way to go in meeting the needs of international and domestic students, and political, employment and marketing trends change at a rapid pace, delegates at the 2019 Navitas Business Partners Conference were told.
The conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, attracted almost 200 delegates from Navitas’ agencies and providers to discuss how the international education industry is helping to build global citizens.
“You cannot have force in the market unless you have your message right”
In her opening plenary, vice-chancellor of Western Australia’s Curtin University Deborah Terry said all education providers had a responsibility to adapt and prepare graduates not only for jobs but also for life-long learning.
“One of my very clear views is we’re not preparing graduates for a job, we’re preparing them for a career, and during that career, they will change their jobs many, many times,” she said.
“We have a responsibility as universities to play our role in helping to drive economic and social prosperity.”
Terry, who is also the chair of Universities Australia, added tertiary education is becoming increasingly more vital in the future of work, as figures indicate 80% of all new jobs in the next decade will require “knowledge workers”.
“From where we sit, that is vitally important, really important to understand that and therefore, we all have a responsibility to support the pathways of students all over the world to have access to the education they need to be successful into the future.”
As prospective and current students contemplate how institutions can help them meet future jobs needs, Publisher’s International chief executive Charlton D’Silva students were also changing their desired learning outcomes.
“For students, the number one priority now is how do I save the earth, how does my education make a difference,” he said.
“[But] just because they are conscious of the earth does not mean that they do not want lifestyle of prosperity.”
According to D’Silva, this shift in students’ desires meant providers were in danger of wasting advertising resources by not changing to meet those expectations.
In wanting their prospective institution to help them make a difference, he added students were seeking institutions that had an underlying value or stance, over traditional branding around the quality of tuition.
“I think as global citizens, we need to balance whatever we’re doing”
“What does your university stand for?” he challenged delegates.
“Until you have these…parts of the equation right, you should not spend a dollar. You cannot have force in the market unless you have your message right, and you’ll drive your companies broke if you do that.”
The annual conference also challenged HEI’s role in geopolitics, with Paul Boyle, vice-chancellor of the UK’s Swansea University, questioning how universities’ pedagogy is evolving alongside changing political rhetoric.
“What does the term global citizen really mean? We throw that term around a lot; we assume that a global citizen is what people should aspire to be,” he said.
“How much have we actually changed in the past few years from what universities have been doing for hundreds of years?”
Speaking at the closing plenary, Boyle said politics had changed from left and right, to those with and those without, and universities were increasingly being seen as part of an elite with limited and potentially detrimental impacts on political discourse and the rise of “fake news”.
While the conference reflected on how universities needed to change, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Navitas alumna Nneoma Ugwu said more needed to be done in understanding global citizenry.
“We all have a responsibility to support the pathways of students all over the world”
“I think as global citizens, we need to balance whatever we’re doing,” she said, pointing to the rise in mental health issues and bullying through social media.
“We need to be aware of this and make sure we’re mitigating all of these issues that some of your international and global citizens are going through, and going along a good path.”
Ugwu added institutions and students should work together in developing their understanding and tackling global issues.
“We’re all inter-dependent, you need me, I need you, and so we need to support each other,” she said.
“If we’re going to accept the global solutions, they’re greater than me, and they may be greater than you, but they are not greater than all of us combined together.”