Vice-Chancellor's Blog

Vice-Chancellor's Blog: week ending 12 April 2019

Along with Professor John Macintyre, our Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International, I have been visiting Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia this week.

In my first overseas visit since becoming Vice-Chancellor, we packed a lot into a busy programme. Indeed, it is hard to believe that it is a mere six days since we flew out from Newcastle last Saturday afternoon.

I began by visiting the University of Sunderland in Hong Kong. Located in the central business district, our facility is ideally placed as it provides educational opportunities to around 600 people who want to improve their qualifications and enhance their job prospects.

As well as meeting staff, I had a roundtable with a group of our students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, who told me how the University of Sunderland was benefiting them.

Later in the day, we visited the British Council and met with the Director and other colleagues, including those from the Consulate-General’s office. This was a useful meeting at which we were given a helpful briefing on both higher education and the wider economic and political situation.

I was able to thank the British Council for their continuing support for our work and indicate that we were always willing to ‘fly the flag’ for the UK, and universities in particular.

On Monday evening, I hosted a very pleasant dinner for Sunderland alumni. It was an interesting group of people and I was struck by the warmth expressed towards the University.

On Tuesday, we visited Hong Kong College of Technology (HKCT) and Hong Kong University SPACE (HKU SPACE). The former is one of our ‘Big 5’ transnational education partners, with a very interesting history as the Workers’ Night School (based on the UK model of the Workers’ Educational Association). Its mission in promoting access and lifelong education resonated very strongly with us. 

We received a very warm welcome at HKCT and it was clear that this is a strong - around 450 students - and enduring partnership. Encouragingly too, there are still opportunities for further development in areas such as hospitality and tourism. 

Hong Kong University (HKU) SPACE is, in simple terms, HKU’s continuing education/extension activity. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University and reaches over 80,000 students a year. Our interest up until now has been through a small-scale postgraduate clinical pharmacy programme involving about 60 students in total. 

We talked about the possibility of exploring new areas, with discussions already underway around politics. We agreed to talk about other opportunities, for example, in psychology, with colleagues at HKU SPACE giving further thought to additional partnerships across health and allied disciplines (and, like the UK, Hong Kong is facing similar challenges when it comes to workforce pressures in health).

On Tuesday evening, we attended a dinner hosted by SV Group, a Hong Kong insurance company, which is a key feeder for student recruitment onto our campus from the organisation’s in-house diploma programmes. We left the dinner optimistic that, as an expanding company, SV Group will continue to utilise our expertise on the Hong Kong campus.

I will say more about the second leg of my south-east Asia tour in next week’s blog.

Closer to home, here is a link to an article in the THE (Times Higher Education) on the work we do, in collaboration with others, to develop culture in Sunderland.

REMINDER: University staff can gain free access to Times Higher Education and Times Education Supplement, details of how to set up are HERE.