With the UNESCO World Education Forum 2015 taking place last week, the value of a global education is at the forefront of industry minds.
One of the key themes from the conference was quality education. UNESCO highlighted that teachers, peers, communities, curriculum and learning resources must help prepare students to "recognize and respect human rights globally and to value global well-being", as well as equip them with the relevant skills and competencies for 21st century employment opportunities. This will only happen if we are exposing our pupils to a global education and offering them the chance to learn from other cultures.
This is something I feel very passionate about as I have been lucky enough to have a career and personal life that has taken me all around the world. I attended Presbyterian Girls' College in Adelaide after which I moved onto the Australian National University before studying at the University of Oxford. I have since lived in Beirut, Islamabad, Mexico, Sydney and New York. These experiences and memories have shaped who I am today and this is why it is my personal ambition to establish Bath Spa University as a leading international institution, where all of our students leave as fully fledged global citizens.
Our vision and values are based upon offering students opportunities that will help them become well rounded and confident adults, and an important aspect of this is exposure to other cultures and communities.
With this vision in mind, one of the initiatives I have launched since joining Bath Spa University is The Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA). When the inaugural meeting took place last year, it was the first collaboration of its kind and brought together a diverse range of liberal arts providers from around the world. Now a year on, we are approaching the second GALA conference, this time to be hosted by our GALA partner, Communication University of China, in Beijing.
I founded GALA to create a global community of creative people and to explore the relationship between creativity and social engagement. GALA aims to prepare our students and graduates for work in the creative industries as well as global citizenship and intercultural education.
Activities through the network include student and staff exchange visits, study abroad programmes, international work placements, virtual buddying and peer mentoring. By collaborating with established liberal arts providers across the arts and creative subjects, GALA's partners can create extraordinary opportunities both for students and staff, in research, joint teaching and collaboration.
I believe many students in the UK are still apprehensive about studying abroad and that universities need to be alive to the needs of students once they graduate. We have a responsibility to our students to provide the broadest scope of education and equip them with the skills they need before they enter the workplace and embracing global citizenship is integral to this mission.