Single-campus signal of global intent

February 10, 2011

Positing that offshore university campuses are core to internationalisation misses a key point ("Branching out", 3 February). Individual institutional missions dictate their globalisation tactics.

Take the University of Edinburgh, which has no branch campus and no plan to have one. There are more students and staff from outside the UK and the European Union at Edinburgh than ever before in its 428-year history. Strategic alliances exist with other world-leading universities. University offices have opened in China and India. And our students have taken ownership of internationalisation through the creation of Edinburgh University Students' Association Global.

The establishment of our Global Development Academy and the Global Health Academy, in the past year, typifies the spirit of our internationalisation strategy. These groupings pool university expertise from multiple disciplines under a collective goal to provide teaching and research relevant to challenging worldwide issues, such as climate change, population, health, development and food security.

The Edinburgh Global Academies not only offer interdisciplinary postgraduate degrees in academic areas that transcend traditional subject boundaries, they also foster innovative research. Above all, the academy ethos acknowledges the need for more responsive collaborative solutions to today's increasingly complex international problems. The Edinburgh Global Environment and Society Academy will be launched later this year.

When J.M. Barrie was inaugurated as chancellor of Edinburgh in 1930, he astutely observed: "Many of our students are from across the border, they come from every civilised land; and it is our proudest compliment, for it means that they think they get something here which is not to be got elsewhere."

They still do. Long may it continue.

Stephen Hillier, Vice-principal (international) University of Edinburgh.

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