Cape Town’s Limitless Possibilities

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Professor Paul Gentle, key associate and programme director of the Leadership Foundation discusses his interaction with Going Global 2016, taking place in Cape Town this week

Being part of the British Council’s Going Global 2016 conference through watching streamed video and contributing the occasional tweet is an exciting experience. I may not enjoy the wonderful views and atmosphere of Cape Town, but I sense the vibrancy created by the confluence of thought leaders in higher education from across the world.

The conference’s theme of building nations and connecting cultures is at the heart of what universities are for, and evidently resonates with the academics, policymakers and institutional heads who are taking part and shaping what I see on my screen. On the first day, key messages are already emerging, of the importance of capacity-building at organisational and system level.

What might this actually mean in practice? The session titles on the conference programme are redolent of the big themes which universities everywhere are tackling: how to build international research partnerships, working to energise and develop cities, leading on social justice, and creating the conditions for enhanced innovation and employability.

In the latest Times Higher Education, the British Council’s Jo Beall (Director of Education and Society) highlights the importance of reciprocity; the sense that Western universities seeking to build relationships with African counterparts need to be prepared to make a contribution as well as expecting to reap opportunities.

All of this underlines how important it is to build deep and meaningful networks, communities of practice which can continue to share practice and challenge those in them to develop ideas across cultures and national borders. Not just for three days during a conference, but through long-term sustainable engagement.

My own particular challenge of the moment, along with my fellow programme directors of the Leadership Foundation’s Global Leadership Programme, is to build our first cohort of what will be a highly influential group of peers when we launch in October this year. The programme will succeed when it attracts people who lead on internationalisation in their universities from Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and the Americas.

The task for me during Going Global 2016 is to listen, and to be open to learning.

Professor Paul Gentle
Key Associate and Programme Director
Global Leadership Programme


The Global Leadership Programme is a brand new and unique interchange programme for those who lead on internationalisation within their institution. The programme will explore proven models of internationalisation, give you exclusive access to the higher education Global Balanced Scorecard and allow you to discuss issues of internalisation with leaders from both inside and outside of the sector.

Programme Dates:
Application Deadline: Friday 30 September 2016

Orientation: Monday 24 October 2016
Location: Online

Module One: Monday 14 – Friday 18 November 2016
Location: Nottingham, United Kingdom

Group activity and individual coaching: Tuesday 12 January 2017
Location: Online

Module Two: Tuesday 14 – Thursday 16 March 2017
Location: Singapore

Closing group activity: Thursday 11 May 2017
Location: Online

For more information on the programme visit: Global Leadership Programme