Look out for our Monthly Blog, which covers a range of contemporary topics related to our four themes: Global Cities, Internationalisation, HE Policy or Global Talent.

Recent blogs

UK Slipping Down the 2015 Global Skills Index

Posted October 14, 2015

Last week I attended an insightful event on behalf of the Global Engagement Hub at Bournemouth University – the launch of the 2015 Global Skills Index compiled by Hays – a leading global recruitment group. Hays has recently argued that there is a growing pressure in the skilled labour market as the global economy recovers from the economic downturn of the last few years and companies struggle to get the talent they need.

The event welcomed three prominent speakers: Alistair Cox (CEO, Hays PLC); Neil Carberry (Director for Employment & Skills, CBI); and Philip Thomas (Lead Economist, Oxford Economics), who discussed the highlights of the 2015 Global Skills Index. The speakers sought to provide their perspectives on the global talent landscape across a sample of 31 countries, with a particular focus on the current trends and challenges facing the UK talent landscape.

Source: Global Engagement Hub

Source: Global Engagement Hub

The talent landscape in the UK

So, how is the UK performing against the other 30 countries included in the Hays 2015 Global Skills Index (HGSI)? The straightforward answer would be, “not particularly well!” The UK’s overall 2015 score (i.e. 6.1 HGSI) on the Index has increased, when compared with 2014 figures (i.e. 5.1 HGSI); a higher HGSI score means that the UK is experiencing more pressure to align the skills and competences of its workforce in order to meet industry demands.

A breakdown of the overall picture for the UK also provides a somewhat worrying insight. This is particularly evident in the case of ‘talent mismatch’ – one of the seven key indicators used by Hays. The Index and its talent mismatch indicator in particular, suggest that the UK is experiencing a high level of talent mismatch across the 31 global economies included in the study, with a score of 9.7 out of 10. This may pose long-term, wide-reaching implications for the UK’s workforce and economy.


Source: Hays

Source: Hays

The long-term implications of talent mismatch to the UK

The high talent mismatch essentially means high unemployment, alongside a high rate of job vacancies. Talent mismatch has a direct impact over labour productivity and, in the long–run, over UK Plc.

Talent mismatch, as Alistair Cox (CEO, Hays PLC) pointed out on the evening, is when highly skilled jobs are being created and then go unfilled due to difficulties in finding the right kind of talent. Mr Cox also debated the wider, long-term implications of a skills mismatch, such as lowering economic growth:

“We see a pervasive shortage of skills in the UK. Skills shortages have now started to impact economic growth.”

Addressing high levels of talent mismatch is therefore an imperative for the UK economy and its status on the global index relative to competitor economies . Australia, for instance; one of UK’s key global talent competitors was seen to be among the high flyers of the 2015 Global Skills Index, mainly due to its considerably more flexible labour market and labour market policy. Our comparative infographic (below) provides more insights into the talent mismatch and how the UK is positioned in relation to other global economies.

Source: Global Engagement Hub

Source: Global Engagement Hub

All three speakers remarked that rethinking current policy and practice to help attract top foreign talent must be at the forefront of the government’s agenda if the UK is to stay competitive.


Whose responsibility? The role of universities in shaping talent

Neil Carberry, Director for Employment & Skills, CBI, highlighted the prominent role universities and university-industry partnerships have to play in preparing the talent to match the world of work and, as such, address the high level of talent mismatch in the UK.

@GlobalBU in response is shaping a #GlobalTalent Programme in order to bridge the education to employment gap that plagues HE and in so doing sets out to develop our students as the future talent workforce for our regions and for the globe.

Dean Hristov, Global Engagement Hub

Mobility = Employability!

Posted September 17, 2015

On the train back musing about my talk to sectoral colleagues at Coventry University. Provocatively titled: Mobility = Employability! I offer some excerpts here-in case they be of interest more widely.

We know that the skills and mindsets acquired by mobile students are in demand by employers. In fact, 64% of employers in 2015 argue that those with an international experience as part of their degree are more employable – up from 33% when compared with 2006. The first Erasmus Impact Study exploring the value of experience abroad  confirmed this.

Globally, mobility is on the rise with recent projections estimating a total of 8 million internationally-mobile students each year by 2025 (see the Global BU infographic). Yet we also know that we as an economy fare poorly on mobility. Only 4.5% (or just over 10,000) of all students in UK HE in 13/14 were outwardly mobile, whilst Germany and Spain for instance each sent out over 50,000 students abroad.

Global BU infographic

That’s pretty dire-don’t you agree? So can poor mobility be one of the contributing factors to the sectors embarrassing graduate employment rates – I ask? Can we, by inculcating and encouraging mobility in our student experience offers, also tackle the biggest challenge facing universities – our role in shaping a skilled and employable workforce of the future?

We also know the dominant barriers to mobility as collated by a recent British Council study, where the high cost (48%), the lack of confidence with language skills (36%) and perceived difficulties with adapting to a different culture (19%) all contribute to the status quo in UK HE outward mobility.

So what are we doing to respond to these common barriers to student mobility? The University of Nottingham, for example, embarked on strengthening its funding mobility opportunities, where 80% of the students receive funding for mobility. University of Manchester provide a compulsory year abroad on 100+ of their UG and PG programmes, whilst Keele University have introduced a cross-culture module for study abroad aimed at improving the cultural awareness of students on mobility programmes.

Of course Coventry, with its pioneering Global Leaders Programme, is also sector leading in its efforts and offer in this area, but we need more Coventries as what’s at stake is not our Universities but our worsening positioning on the 2015 Global Talent Index, where the UK is currently 14th – two positions down since 2011 Global Talent Index figures (Heidrick and Struggles, 2015). If we agree that mobility = employability then we have to deliver on this to retain and improve our competitiveness in the world rankings on talent development and supply through our graduates into our regions and nations.

I am sure there are strong counter arguments or questions on mobility outcomes data or its significance but if we look beyond the immediate and focus on 2030 then in our hearts we should know that developing our current students as tomorrow’s global talent is a shared responsibility of every staff member in global HE. I can only use my own example here – my own career graph had a steady incline largely owing to my mobility and acquisition of unique skills that come with the territory.

Mobility is not, for me, defined by the places you visit or the planes you take and the people you meet, mobility for me is having a ‘global mindset’ a mindset that is confident in its frame but mobile in its lifelong development.

Of course the danger in all of this is that I get labelled the ‘mobile PVC’ but then again being called by all kinds of names other than yours comes with the senior management territory so why not the mobile PVC – you won’t find me parked selling lunchtime burgers outside your Uni per se but you may find me driving the message “Mobility=employability” at your University next. Do look out for the Global Talent programme that we are developing @GlobalBU to find out more about what we are planning to do.

Dr Sonal Minocha


ICEF Monitor (2014) Summing Up International Student Mobility in 2014. Available at: http://monitor.icef.com/2014/02/summing-up-international-student-mobility-in-2014/ (Accessed 11 September 2015)

International Unit (2015) Gone International: Mobile Students and Their Outcomes. London: International Unit. Available at: http://www.go.international.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Gone%20International%20mobile%20students%20and%20their%20outcomes.pdf

Heidrick and Struggles (2015) The Global Talent Index. Available at: http://www.globaltalentindex.com/Resources/gti-map.aspx# (Accessed 11 September 2015) Available at:

European Commission (2014) Erasmus Impact Study 2014. Bruxelles: European Commission. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/education/library/study/2014/erasmus-impact_en.pdf

Westminster Higher Education Forum Seminar

Posted June 25, 2015.

I attended the Westminster Higher Education Forum Seminar on outward student mobility on Tuesday (23 June). There were some useful presentations on resources and initiatives being undertaken across the sector to increase outward student mobility.

There was agreement among speakers that offering students short-term mobility options was essential to encouraging students to take up longer opportunities at a later date. Speakers mentioned that students spending even a few days abroad as being beneficial, and highlighted the sector challenge in capturing comprehensive data of all mobility activities at universities.

The key resources presented were:

  • Go International website, which contains a lot of useful resources for staff and students on mobility, including upcoming events
  • Universities for Europe website will promote the value of European Union membership over the coming weeks and months, providing a platform for universities and employers to present their points of view
  • Erasmus Plus Student and Alumni Association, to represent students from inside and outside Europe who take part in Erasmus+

Alastair Morrison
Academic Partnerships

Can our UG students engage with and benefit from internationalisation at home?

Posted March 19, 2015.

Internationalisation is a key element of a healthy and thriving academic environment. BU encourages and provides opportunities for staff and students to engage in professional or academic activities abroad. Increasing international experience of UG students across the university is a current strategic goal. Spending time abroad in an academic exchange or to undertake placements, volunteering work or collaborate in research is a great way for CV enhancement and personal development. However, for a number of reasons, this is not an experience that appeals to all.

To make internationalisation more inclusive to students, it is necessary to maximise the opportunities for engagement and exposure of internationalisation at home. International students make about 10% of BU student numbers; the majority are postgraduate students who have little contact with our undergraduates. Therefore, despite being surrounded by a multicultural community, a good number of our UG students have little opportunity to directly engage with international students.

In February, I received Gabriela, an UG student from Brazil in a one-month voluntary placement. To give Gabriela the opportunity to learn more about BU, the academic environment and student life in the UK, I asked Ally, one of our UG students, who is also taking a placement with me, to spend some time with Gabriela, showing her the campus, taking her to few lectures and working together in some of the placement activities. I thought this was a great opportunity to assess the potential benefits our students can gain from engaging with international students at home. The text below is a brief account of what Gabriela and Ally learned from each other in their own words – I am certain you will find the text stimulating.

My name is Gabriela Sonomura, I’m 19 years old and a student of Oceanography at the University of Vale do Itajaí, Santa Catarina, Brazil. In February, I had the opportunity to travel to England for a five-week placement with Dr Luciana Esteves, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Bournemouth University. Dr Esteves gave a lecture in my university last year and I contacted her afterwards asking for a placement opportunity.

My name is Ally Arthur-Worsop, I’m 19 and in my second year of my Geography degree at Bournemouth University. Having never really been abroad myself, I always assumed that university was the same all over the world, but when Gabriela came to Bournemouth for her placement I was shocked by the vast differences between the way things worked in Brazil and the way they work here.

Besides the opportunity of a placement relevant to the subject I’m studying, I was excited with the opportunity to experience a rich culture, full of ancient architecture and history. I can say that the experience gained in this exchange and the contact with the English culture was amazing. I realized the differences between Brazil and England, how things work in the first world countries, such as public transportation, security and education. The experience of an exchange in a foreign country is amazing, it doesn’t matter if it’s for a month or a year, being in contact with another culture is positive to everybody.

In the first day I met Ally. She introduced me to the University and she helped me understand in a better way how things work in England, the universities, the support given to students (like accommodation) and the whole process until graduation. I also met Ioli, a Tourism student at Bournemouth University. Ioli is from Greece and she showed me the touristic attractions and the city in general. The most interesting thing in Europe is that due to the European Union, people have the option to choose to study in any country that is part of the EU, and because of this, you can meet people from different countries.

For a start I assumed that all universities have at least some form of accommodation that is available for their students; however, in Brazil accommodation is the complete responsibility of the students and the university doesn’t help at all. I also assumed that all universities, although different, were similar in the way that they do things. I have learnt that in Brazil there are universities that are free, but the difference between the quality of those universities and the ones that you have to pay for is vast.

One thing that Gabriela didn’t like about her university was that the way you pay for university in Brazil is very different to here. In the UK you pay a set amount for every year of university and the government helps us; whereas in Brazil you have to pay for every course you do separately which gives a very money grabbing feel, which is not pleasant for the students. However this may be better in a way because for those students that have less money they can do courses as and when they can afford to pay.

During those five weeks, I realized the differences between my country and the country where I was living, not only about the culture and education, but people as well. Before coming to England, I was aware of these differences, but I admit that there are still many situations which positively surprised me, for example, respect and solidarity to others, honesty, security, but especially the patriotism and pride that English people feel about their country.

However I guess no matter where you are in the world the things we do with our spare time remain the same as normally on the weekends and evenings when I’m not doing work I like to hang out with my friends and go out drinking; and so does Gabriela. One thing that facilitates this is being a member of the university societies and taking part in the social events they organise. In my first year the opportunity to join new societies really helped me settle in and make new friends, which is why I think it’s a shame that such opportunities are not available in universities abroad. The reasons behind picking what course you want to do are very personal and therefore I don’t think it matters where in the world you are. Some people like Gabriela have always had a passion for something and know exactly what they want to do with their lives; others like me just kind of fall in to it.

Brazil is a wonderful country, known worldwide because of football, carnival and especially their cheerful and welcoming people. Unfortunately, these are not the main qualities that will develop a country. Having lived in England made me see how much Brazil needs to change; at the same time, made me realize that the dream that we have to see our country in a better situation is not impossible. We can make the difference, starting in our own home.

I think the exchange was a great opportunity for Gabriela, and I have learned a lot from my experience about not only the differences between the universities but also Brazil and its culture. I would love the opportunity to go on an exchange myself and encourage anyone how is interested in studying abroad to do so.

The experience gained in this exchange cannot be measured. The opportunity of living for five weeks in England and meeting people around the world was indescribable. It certainly was one of the best experiences I ever had and I’ll take it to my personal and professional life forever. I’m really thankful for this opportunity; it made my personal dream come true. My exchange finishes here, but it certainly will always be in my memories. England, I really hope to see you soon.

by Dr Luciana S. Esteves, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Faculty of Science and Technology

Sam Squelch (Student Engagement Coordinator, R&KEO), Rebecca Marney (BU Events) and Gabriela Sonomura.

Sam Squelch (Student Engagement Coordinator, R&KEO), Rebecca Marney (BU Events) and Gabriela Sonomura.

A passage to Britain from India!

Posted January 11, 2015.

Following a customary break in India over Xmas I am ready to start the New Year with New Ideas.
So why India-well ’tis the only way to escape stuffing my mouth with Xmas cake and mince pies and red wine! And of course India is where family is as well for me-so instead-Xmas is all about curry and parathas!! And of course it all ends with a Delhi Belly by my last day before flying back in the New Year! Same routine-year on year for over ten years!!
This time round however, I felt a special connect with India. Was it because I am so proud of what India has achieved since I left home, is it because Mr. Modi has genuinely put India on the map and made all NRIs (Non Resident Indians) so proud, is it because I am saddened by the depravity that still engulfs one of the fastest growing economies of the world. It’s all of this but it also has to be because I am saddened by the ‘go away’ message that seems to be writ large in the perception sphere of Indian students and their parents who once considered studying in the UK but won’t any longer (Britain has seen a decline of 51 percent in enrolments from India in the last two years). The latter hurts.
As an international student to the UK first and then as a staff member in UK HE I have personally experienced the truly transformative power of Education Brand Britain. Yet to see this questioned by the once prospective international student from India is sad and something I am determined to rectify.
Yes our policy environment hasn’t been conducive -yes we have got it wrong with the immigration, visa and PSW debates. N I along with other leaders in HE will continue to make a compelling case on all three matters. In the meantime however I want us to make a call for a campaign to restore our own confidence in Education Brand Britain.
Britain has never denied access to talent-so lets begin work to counteract that viewpoint and Rebuild Brand Britain (see my THES opinion piece of the same title) in India. Practically I offer three directions to HEIs in which to approach this agenda:

  1. Closer working with Indian employers-this is crucial so that the employer base in India continues to value the skills development that British HE excels in. Input from Indian employers into our curriculum is another agenda that HE institutions might want to think of collectively-are our graduates ready to operate in the Indian socio-economic-political environment? An environment that is undergoing unprecedented transformation.
  2. Closer working with Indian Alumnus-Since 2004, over 250,000 alumnus from UK institutions have returned to India-they are a powerful voice and testament to the transformative intervention that education in Britain provided them-yet am not sure that we do enough collectively as a sector to work with these alumni.
  3. A clear set of communication messages-this is easier said than done however I feel I still have to make the case-the media coverage for governmental and educational interaction with India has only resulted in confused messages from Britain to India at worst and at best made us appear fragmented and short sighted in our purpose. Britain is open for business and is welcoming of Indian students are messages that have lost their value in the minds of the discerning Indian ‘customer’ (businesses, students, parents etc). The policy regime has been contradictory to these generic messages. It’s time therefore to refine our messages, unify them (across the government/ministerial/business/non government bodies) so that we have one clear message from Britain to India and it isn’t just welcoming but is also clear, consistent and compelling.

This is my short passage to Britain as I embark on my journey back home(to Britain) from home (India)!

Creating a Global BUzz

Posted December 19, 2014.

global BUzz

Over 50 staff from across the University gathered for our #GlobalBUzz workshop this week to commence our journey toward co-creating a Global BU by 2020. Lots of ideas, imaginations and innovations were suggested for both the content and context of our plans. The framework within which we are developing this plan is being referred to as the 6:3:1 framework. 6 objectives, 3 enablers and 1 goal. Simples!

The opportunity, as we shape this, lies in asking some pertinent questions about what we do, how we do and why we do it in the context of this plan. For example:

What does a Global BU look like in its physical environment?
What does a Global BU look like in its virtual/technological environment?
What does a Global BU look like in its intellectual environment?


What will this mean for our curricular, co curricular and extra curricular offer to our students?
What will this mean for our staff experience?
What will this mean for our research activity? And so forth…

I believe we can shape global futures for our students, staff and organisations alike. “So lets bring the globe to BU and take BU around the globe too”, a comment from the workshop which has stayed with me!

In the meantime, connect with me on @PVCBU or @linked in or [email protected] so we can keep the conversations going. More in the New Year!