So, the British Council’s Going Global 2019 conference 2019 has just come to an end. This was my first Going Global, and I was very pleased to be able to present the research I did for the Council with ICR Ltd’s Associate Researchers, Erik Vlaeminck and Dimitra Kizlari, on the impact of digitalisation on HE in Europe and South Asia. The presentation was in the slightly daunting main hall of Berlin’s Congress Centre, but the (also daunting and distinguished) panel was excellently chaired by Rosemary Hilhorst, Director of the British Council in Pakistan, who facilitated a lively discussion. The research can be found on this website and on the British Council’s site. What surprised me in doing it was that for all the talk of the globalisation of knowledge, there was such a lack of comparative research on the impact of digitalisation on two of the world’s major regions. Without comparison, no benchmarking is really possible, and it is hard to say “learn from our mistakes” or to suggest, by comparing where each area has got to, where collaboration may be most fruitful. I was really pleased to see that the session was featured as the highlight of day 2 of the conference!
Other take-aways included:
HE really does need to think very hard about the implications of internationalisation for their relationships with the communities where they are based. The pursuit of global excellence can exacerbate inequalities within societies, as well as between them.
The digital is not always the answer. People and values must come first. Digitalisation is a means, not an end.
There is a huge need for more open-source research and knowledge if we are not to create knowledge divides.
HE has to think through the implications of lifelong learning.
There were of course many other fascinating debates and questions. One perhaps unintended consequence of focusing on the digital (the theme for GG 2019) was that some participants wondered how long the conference format itself will last, given that so much conference networking took place using the excellent app…