The Conference for Leaders of International Education:
Going Global is a forum for education world leaders to debate international higher and further education issues and challenges, and to discuss collaborative solutions.
Going Global 2015 took place on 1 and 2 June 2015 at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, London.
Through this conference, we propose the fusion of diverse cultures generates a creative force, which is a major catalyst of leading edge innovation. Investment in the connection of these cultures produces a tangible return and measurable impact for the future.
Going Global 2015 explored this through three perspectives:
- Academic discipline and subject cultures: including the impact of multi-disciplinary teams from various fields of study; as well as different cultures of research, teaching and skills development.
- Organisational cultures - particularly those of higher education institutions; business; skills providers; NGOs and social enterprises.
- National, regional and local cultures and the extent to which connecting people and ideas across these cultures generates a creative force leading to innovation.
- Together we explored how networks of innovation evolve and grow when cultures cut across boundaries, looking at the role higher education institutions play globally in connecting cultures, as well as anchoring and sustaining networks of innovation.
RESEARCH PROJECT ON GRADUATE EMPLOYABILITY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA:
The ‘Universities, Employability and Inclusive Development’ research, which is the most substantial multi-country research project on higher education and employability in Sub-Saharan Africa to date was commissioned in 2013 by British Council. In June 2014, the first publication was launched at the Going Global Conference, the British Council’s annual conference for leaders of international education, hosted in Miami. The project, began in 2013, will run to 2016 and is led by the University of London’s Institute of Education in partnership with the University of the Free State, South Africa; Ibadan University, Nigeria; Kenyatta University, Kenya; and the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana. The UK component is for comparative purposes.
The first research policy brief, published at Going Global, notes that “Africa stands at a crossroads in relation to higher education development. If countries can effectively invest in enabling access for increasing numbers of ambitious school leavers, while at the same time ensuring quality provision and successful transition to the work place, then the sub-continent will reap substantial benefits from the youth bulge. Failing to do so -- through maintaining highly restricted access to university level education, or allowing massification to be accompanied by deteriorating quality -- will hamper economic growth, weaken democracy and good governance, and leave a generation without the opportunity to pursue their ambitions for a better future."
The research has so far found that employers in the region complain that graduates are not equipped with the right workplace and transferable skills. This situation poses a high level of economic and social risk with growing numbers of urban youth without meaningful occupation
Universities and the higher education system in these countries have a crucial role to play in helping to address this situation. But they are also part of the problem, in that it appears they are not properly preparing students for the workplace or providing enough places, particularly for women and students from disadvantaged backgrounds
The sector itself needs to tackle a number of challenges including:
- Improving the quality of taught courses. Quality has suffered as a result of rapid expansion, with extensive evidence of poor learning environments and high student lecturer ratio
- Broadening the learning experience for students to make them more employable -- through extra-curricular activities such as voluntary work
- Providing better information for students about career opportunities, providing more chances for them to interact with employers, and introducing skills enhancement programmes in areas such as entrepreneurship and communication skills
Preliminary findings indicate that there is a potential ‘time-bomb’ in Sub-Saharan Africa countries of pent-up demand for higher education and graduate employment.
Due to a demographic bulge, an estimated 11 million young people in the region will be joining the job market every year for the next decade. To stimulate the economy and generate jobs, more of these young people need to be equipped with high level skills. But despite rapid expansion of the HE system in these 4 countries, with enrolments more than doubling in the decade to 2010, participation levels among the population are still only at 7 per cent, compared to 29 per cent world-wide.
Even among those who do enter higher education, the prospects for work are not good with graduate unemployment rates running high in many countries. In Nigeria, where the government recently declared itself to have Africa’s biggest economy, nearly a quarter of graduates are unemployed.
What does British Council plan to do after completing the research project?
Higher education is becoming increasingly important in the context of the knowledge society, and governments and development agencies alike are showing greater recognition of Higher Education’s critical contribution to development in the post-2015 agenda. However, if Africa is to harness the full potential of the next generation, the thorny issue of graduate employability needs to be resolved.
Given the significant lack of rigorous research in the four countries in question, it is essential to develop a strong evidence base on the subject as a means of informing national policies, institutional reform and programme interventions. The British Council hopes the partnerships developed in the course of the project will also act as significant nexuses of change.
Read more on the two reports below: