Dr Judith Lamie talks to the New Statesman about internationalisation at Regent’s University London
NS What can universities do to limit the impact of immigration rules on student recruitment
JL There are clearly many challenges that face us as we try to progress our inter-national agenda. Obviously one of the main things in the UK is the challenges in terms of immigration rules. To be honest; we have been operating in an increasingly internationalised competitive environment for some time. We know the UK is seemingly closing doors while other countries, not least the US, are opening theirs more freely. We need to communicate the fact that this actually isn’t the case. The country is open to international students, interna-tional visitors, and international talent.
It really is a challenge dealing with that perception of the UK. It means you have to be willing to get out there yourself, to talk to students, parents and partner organisations internationally to let them know that what sometimes is perceived is not actually a reality.
NS So in terms of actually going out there and speaking to people does this mean that there are Regent’s University London representatives that are speaking to schools around the world?
JL Absolutely, although we have been doing that for some time. Our new internationalisation strategy is driven through partnerships with other academic insti-tutions, partnerships with business and industry, partnerships with our alumni and that means working with them to communicate what Regent’s has to offer.
NS What impact do you see the internationalisation strategy having on the university and its students?
JL It’s the ﬁrst time we have developed an internationalisation strategy and to set it in its context, internationalism is one of Regent’s central values. We’re quite a small institution but we have 138 nationalities here. You won’t have more than two or three people from the same country in the same classroom.
There are various strands to the interna-tional recruitment strategy, which we describe as holistic with ﬁve core areas.
The ﬁrst area is the student, the student experience, recruitment support and mobility. The second is learning, teach-ing and program development; the third area is staff and their recruitment and support, the fourth is research and inno-vation while the ﬁfth is partnerships.
What we are trying to do with the strategy is bring together the strands. This lets us see what we need to work on helps us make sure we’re protecting the things we want to keep and do well and that strategically we are going in the di-rection we want to go in. Ultimately it’s about trying to put something in place that’s of beneﬁt to all of our students and therefore society in general.
NS What are the barriers to that?
JL You need engagement. When we were developing the strategy we took three months to have a consultation period that allowed everyone’s input. Internationalism can be in your strategy document and your institutional plan but people need to know what it means for them individually. Challenges remain but the consultation period accelerated the initiative.
NS On a slightly different note, how do we encourage inclusivity in our institutions and what do we really mean by this term?
JL I think for me it harks back to what we used to term education for all. We have a target for all our students to have the opportunity to have some sort of experi-ence abroad. It’s quite a challenge but we have broadened the portfolio of subjects we offer. Students can study abroad as part of their programme but also access shorter study programmes. We are trying to start hubs for student mobility overseas .We give scholarships to study abroad as well. If you’re saying that mobility is important it has to be important for everyone and that is inclusivity.
NS What about the way in which Regent’s works to promote innovation and impact?
JL I suppose we focus on our students. What we have here is a very strong network of international, intercultural students and the way we facilitate those networks internally and externally means our individual students make so much more impact on the global stage. One of the most important things with impact and innovation is you need to have talent management around it as well. Part of our strategy is the recruit-ment and support of students but also of staff – having people with the mindset to make a global difference and then giving them the support to help them achieve their goals.
NS Finally, you have worked at two Russell Group universities. How does Regent’s compare given that it is a not-for-proﬁt independent university?
JL One of the things that struck me from the ﬁrst day was the international culture. The second I arrived I heard so many different languages around me. There was a group of students next to me chatting away in English and then all of a sudden one of them started talking in Spanish and they all switched to Spanish. If you walk through this institution you really get a feel for a melting pot of people from different cultures, languages and backgrounds. I think that the way internationalism manifests here, both physically and culturally is what really makes Regent’s distinctive.
Dr Judith Lamie is Director of External Relations at Regent’s University London