The start of term kicked off in style this year as we hosted the inaugural International Commencement Ceremony on the evening of 24th September at the Bournemouth International Centre.  My vision for the event was to formally mark the beginning of our new international students’ time at BU in a special way, in a similar way to how graduation celebrates the completion of their BU journey. We, nor I believe, any other UK university, have put on a commencement ceremony in this way before, and so we were very much breaking new ground. I was therefore thrilled to see so many alumni and senior figures from across Dorset – including HM Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset – join University staff in welcoming our newest international students, not only to BU, but also to the UK. The evening was attended by 500 new international students and 150 staff and was a resounding success. 

As we enter the first full year of delivery of our Global Engagement Plan, I am keen to bring to the fore all the existing activity that our staff and students are working on globally. In support of this the Vice-Chancellor and I had our first Global BU walk on 30th September – which will be a regular feature each month.  The purpose of these walks is to visit colleagues in their own space to find out about the international work they are involved in.  On this first walk, we visited two colleagues: Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences who is involved in a fantastic  cross-Faculty project looking at reconciliation in Kosovo; and Dimitrios Buhalis in the Faculty of Management who had just returned from South America and Greece having given key-note addresses on ‘smart tourism’.   The next walk will take place on 17 October and the full list of dates for the coming academic year are available for BU staff to access on the intranet – if you are involved in international work or projects and want to tell the VC and me about it – get in touch - we’d love to hear from you.    

Over the course of the summer, I’m pleased to announce that two new academic partnership agreements were signed: one in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Malaysia, which follows a sustained period of staff exchange and collaborative research between our two institutions. Additionally, the Faculty of Science and Technology signed a Bilateral Agreement for Erasmus+ Staff Exchange with Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in Norway. The addition of these two new partnerships means that there are currently 114 global BU academic partners, of which 46 are international and 68 are Erasmus.

Closer to home, at the end of August, I was delighted to attend an event arranged by Bournemouth Borough Council - along with the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation and the Head of Marketing and Communications - that looked at ‘Brand Bournemouth’.  This was a great opportunity to meet with a host of regional stakeholders from a range of sectors to discuss what makes Bournemouth (and the wider conurbation) distinctive in a very crowded and competitive marketplace; a challenge that we can recognise in terms of our own context.  One thing that was clear was that maintaining a steady flow of future graduate talent was a common theme and I am pleased to say that we will be looking at ways to work with these stakeholders over the coming months to develop our work around ‘global talent’.   

The theme of global talent was also the focus of the launch of the 2015 Global Skills Index compiled by Hays - one of the leading global pioneers in the world of recruitment. The event sought to provide the latest insights on the global talent challenge across 31 countries, and particular focus was drawn on current trends and challenges related to the UK talent landscape. The Index and its talent mismatch indicator in particular suggested that the UK is experiencing one of the highest levels of talent mismatch across the 31 global economies studied by Hays – 9.7 out of 10. Our Global Talent Programme (which I’ve mentioned before in previous posts) aims to bridge the widening gap between the skills and competences of its workforce to the ones demanded by global industry so watch this space for more updates… 

If you are reading this, then I hope you have also noticed a new and improved website for Global BU – my monthly PVC updates are just one avenue for sharing the global vision that BU has for ourselves, for the sector and for our societies. Do take a look at the Daily BUzz, Weekly Focus and Monthly Blog to find out more about global issues, events, news that are impacting HE. 

So, already a busy month behind us in September – and I am now looking forward to formally sharing our co-shaped and co-created Global Engagement Plan to the wider BU community as a follow on from the Vice Chancellor’s update last week – find out more on this here next month! 

Dr Sonal Minocha
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement)