Home Career The BUILA conference highlights current developments that have a “long-term impact” on...

The BUILA conference highlights current developments that have a “long-term impact” on the sector


Delegates at the conference, which is being held at ICC Wales, were told that rules and regulations relating to visas, inflation and more are affecting students.

“Suddenly you have changes on the ground, not just Covid and visas, but also fuel prices and travel costs,” said Malcolm Butler, vice-president of global affairs at the University of Sheffield.

Before Butler’s plenary, Charlotte Bellis, a journalist from New Zealand who until recently worked as Al Jazeera’s Middle East correspondent, outlined to delegates the current events affecting the world as we know it.

She mentioned in particular the coordinated speech of the security services on July 6 regarding the “threat from China” and that it was “the biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security”.

It was the first ever joint speech by the director of MI5 and the director of the FBI, Bellis said, demonstrating the importance of what is happening in China.

“We know there are still challenges in China – it’s not just a problem for us [as international office representatives] in future relations, it is also the British government. We’ve all seen the news about research, IP, security, but so much of our economy depends on it,” Butler explained.

A report co-authored by former UK universities minister Jo Johnson, published this week, warns institutions to prepare for future geopolitical upheavals.

“It’s a real balancing act that we have to do in terms of our sector,” Butler said, also pointing to Saudi Arabia’s human rights issues as another challenge.

Ukraine, which Bellis described as the “biggest story of the year,” is also creating problems with university funding at the moment.

“There has been a large outflow of support for Ukraine, which, I think, is very clear. But from a sector perspective, with these priority visas from Ukraine, what has that done for students in China and India? Did it affect them? When will visas go back online?” Butler said.

UK Home Office officials said processing of student visa applications “took longer” as a result of prioritizing applications for the Ukraine Family Scheme and Houses for Ukraine. Preparations for the “summer student rush” were made at the end of June reports The PIE.

“Many of us at the university have given out scholarships for Ukraine, but I think that’s a dilemma in itself, because nominating a country really affects our values ​​of equality, and there’s going to be a lot of money,” Butler added.

Belis emphasized that inflation is an extremely urgent problem at the moment.

“Nominating a country really affects our values ​​of equality, and there’s going to be a lot of money.”

“It’s hard to keep it under wraps because different countries have different answers and it can lead to a lot of different problems. It can cause a lot of damage,” she said.

It also affects the ability of university staff to continue personal recruitment. Shrinking travel budgets, rising fuel prices, flight cancellations and looming strikes are all troubling the sector.

Although China remains a major concern, stakeholders have noted the opportunity for transnational education, which has increased in China over the past three years.

“In terms of TNE, universities need to work more closely with governments, not just DIT but also the Department for Education, the British Council, in terms of due diligence,” said Sarah Chidgey, head of international education at the Department for International Affairs. Trade.

“Sometimes there are universities that violate export control laws; they are in the minority, but getting more government advice can help avoid this.

“On a more positive note, we can help [universities] to find good partnerships that will benefit both you and China,” she added.

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