The direction and scope of UQ’s Global Strategy is determined by priorities outlined in UQ’s broader Strategic Plan and takes into consideration a combination of national drivers and global trends that shape the current international education and research environment.

1. International landscape

UQ is operating in an environment of intensifying international competition. While Australia maintains its historical position as a world leader in the provision of international education, new players are emerging across the globe. Countries such as China and Singapore, typically considered as recruitment source markets, are establishing increasingly prominent reputations in the domains of teaching and research. Strong investment of resources from the governments of these countries, combined with national internationalisation strategies – which include ambitious international recruitment targets and global ranking aspirations, are presenting novel challenges to UQ’s recruitment efforts. In addition, UQ’s traditional partners from Europe and North America have an increased focus on collaboration with Asia. Rising demand for increased flexibility and improved employability outcomes is pushing higher education institutions to overhaul their learning methodologies, curricula, and extra-curricular support services.

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2. Digital revolution

Digital technologies and the rise of artificial intelligence continue to profoundly transform all aspects of our lives, including the way we learn and deliver education. The rise of automation and artificial intelligence is rapidly shifting workplace priorities and industry demands for graduates with greater emphasis upon skills such as critical and design thinking, digital literacy, creativity, adaptability, and entrepreneurship. Flexible online and blended methods of course delivery are being embraced to meet these demands and to create greater flexibility for students. Accessibility to higher education for communities globally is of increasing focus – a demand that is, in part, being driven by low- or no-fee online courses delivered by a growing number of providers. Many of these providers include verified assessments, which are being adopted as an emerging pathway into formal qualifications.

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3. Global mobility

Global mobility is an integral part of developing students and researchers with international perspectives, and of strengthening and enhancing institutional linkages via people-to-people exchange. It forms a key element of developing game-changing graduates as outlined in the UQ Student Strategy, through extending access to and opportunity for student engagement with global extension experiences involving studying, working, or volunteering in cross-cultural settings. Mobility of researchers supports enhanced research and teaching collaboration and creates an environment conducive to the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and best practice to achieve greater research impact.

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4. Diversification of funding

Australian government investment in research is diminishing, and Australia ranks well behind other OECD nations in terms of industry research collaboration. In a similar vein, Australian students will be required to contribute to a greater proportion of their education costs. This is occurring at time when national education funding in a number of countries, historically directed towards scholarships for overseas education, is being diverted toward building capacity and quality of local institutions; Singapore and Malaysia are examples of this funding shift. Moreover, a number of nations are increasing investment in research and development, and proactively nurturing industry sponsored research and innovation, such as the UK’s Industrial Strategy to advance innovative research and Germany’s Industry 4.0 Plan. In order to remain competitive in the global research arena, UQ will need to diversify its funding pool through leveraging industry investment as well as accessing international funding streams, a strategy that will heavily rely upon multisectoral collaboration through strengthening partnerships across UQ’s global network.

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5. Climate of political uncertainty

In recent years, political uncertainty around the world has shifted traditional balances of power and has led to changing flows of students, academics, and research funding. This trend has also opened up opportunities for closer relationships with countries such as the UK, Brazil, and Mexico, which are seeking to consolidate ties outside their respective regions. These dynamics have highlighted the need to remain flexible and responsive, and to ‘expect the unexpected’. Indeed, these complexities are acknowledged in the Australian Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper and recommended emphasis upon maintaining committment to the Indo-Pacific whilst strengthening partnerships in other regions. UQ’s proximity to Asia, and its well-established relationships in the rapidly growing and evolving region, continue to represent a valuable competitive advantage. UQ, and Australia more broadly, not only needs to nurture relations with traditional partner countries, but also needs to build and diversify alliances and cooperation across the globe.

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