It would be inappropriate for me to share with you the precise words that sprang to my mind when at a meeting of the Faculty Leadership Team (FLT) …

– a colleague helpfully suggested that ‘We’ (the Faculty of Medicine), should have a blog. And that ‘We’ (FLT members) should be the contributors. Estupendo. Eso es justo lo que yo quisiera hacer.

Professor David Wilson, Associate Dean for Internationalisation


With the anxiety of a medical student finding a compulsory genetics essay on the Mitochondrial genome in Year 1 exams, my turn has arrived. So here it is.  أرجوا قراءة التالي

David WilsonI have a very privileged position in the Faculty. I meet students from across the world considering the UK as a place to study: undergraduate, masters or PhD. Meetings happen when I attend education fairs, usually with a member of our international office, and we jointly promote The University of Southampton. ‘Short’ fairs comprise 6-7 hours of what feels like a continuous conversation with a continuous stream of 100+ students. This is physically knackering and mentally draining, but very enjoyable and really good fun. “Knackering” signifie fatigant, en français.

It is worth mentioning that I am required to have meaningful conversations with any student, about any course delivered by the University. Academic requirements, IELTS or TOEFL scores, course duration, fees, scholarships, promedios, GPAs. With body language oozing confidence, coupled with a postgraduate prospectus held open at the right page, a student is likely to believe what you tell them.

For instance, our Masters course in Design (Winchester School of Art) may appeal to anyone involved in computer game design. Confidently deliver “You will also be a member of our Games Design Hub, which could bring you valuable research opportunities and professional contacts. It could even enable you to consider commercialising your final projects” (1), and you too believe what you are talking about. Easy.

This scenario can be likened to a Clinical Registrar discussing the role of Dicer in the processing of pre-microRNAs before RISC formation. Their appearance of confident authority hinges on the PowerPoint slide diagram lifted from the Nature Cell Biology review (2) on the “linear canonical microRNA processing pathway” (bearing similarity to a jpeg in a postdoc’s seminar presentation from the previous week conveniently left on the open access M:drive). Fire the question: “Does RISC bind to Ago2 before or after completing the SOP?” and their level of understanding becomes apparent. [Lo siento. Eso es para Tilman y Cosma].

Unaweza kujifunza mambo mengi katika tukio Elimu. The experience of attending international education fairs offers insight into the perception by external students of the UK and The University of Southampton. Of course there will be no one who has the mistaken belief that the world knows about Southampton because of their research. That would be crazy. But if there was, they may not want to read what follows.

Bạn hãy ngồi xuống nếu thấy cần thiết và chuẩn bị cho bản thân.

1. Every student you meet has heard of the UK. [The UK usually referred to as England].

2. Nearly every engineering student you meet has heard of the University of Southampton. [You rapidly realise they are speaking to you BECAUSE you are from Southampton].

3. No ‘Biomedical’ student has heard of the University of Southampton before they met you. Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, and Edinburgh, YES. But not the University of Southampton.

Don’t be surprised, but consider this: As a student, had you heard of UNAM, University of Bologna or McGill University? I suspect most of you out there in the blogosphere, if being honest, will say ‘no’. One is the oldest European university, one is the highest QS ranked Canadian university and one is the largest university in Latin America with ~350,000 students! As a student, I had no reason to know about these institutions. Na kia ratou e mohio he aha e pā ana ki a matou?.

Accept this. Do not worry that most prospective students may not have heard of us before. What is important is to appreciate why students may choose to study at our University, on our programmes. You appreciate the answer at the international student education fairs, witnessing the responses to the banter between students and an international officer who idly drops one or more of the following statements into the conversation – a conversation that becomes increasingly engaging and interesting for the student.

– The University of Southampton has a ship.

– The University of Southampton’s wind-tunnel is used by The Great Britain Olympic Cycling Team.

– There is a University of Southampton graduate in nearly all Formula 1 racing teams.

– The University of Southampton is top in the UK for music research.

– The University of Southampton is top in the UK for health science research impact.

– A University of Southampton professor invented the World Wide Web.

– The University of Southampton is top in the UK for General Engineering.

– Lloyd’s Register Global Technology Centre is based in The University of Southampton campus (3).

– The University of Southampton invented optical fibres.

– The National Centre for Advanced Tribology is in The University of Southampton.

– 30% of students at The University of Southampton are international.

– The University of Southampton is ranked in World’s Top 100 Universities: 81st QS ranking 2015/16 (4).

At these fairs, ALL prospective students are impressed by ANY of these sound-bites. They may not understand what ‘research impact’ actually means, what Lloyd’s Register is, or that ‘advanced tribology’ isn’t the study of ectopic gonads. But this doesn’t matter. All statements are indicators of our global reputation.

[ ഇത് കേരളത്തിലും വലിയ മഹത്തം ആണ് ]

Reading the statements, the following should be apparent.

1. There is a complete absence of the word ‘Faculty’.

2. Global Reputation and Ranking are key.

3. It is the reputation of the whole University that is critical. The University of Southampton.

[Jemand von außerhalb der Universität ist nicht daran interessiert, wie unsere Institution strukturiert ist].

We are members of the University of Southampton. If a prospective student believes The University of Southampton has a strong global reputation, they will be prepared to look at our website and consider our UG, PGT and PGR programmes. And course content. And teachers. And supervisors. And their research. And their publications. And decide whether they like, what we deliver: Teaching and Research. [Sia insegnamento che ricerca].

The strength and reputation of our engineers, musicians, artists, linguists, physiotherapists, plant biologists, geophysicists, <the list is long>……………….. is “OUR” reputation. Equally, the new Southampton £25M Cancer Immunology Centre, the strong University of Southampton partnership with the University Hospital Southampton, the innovative Stem Cell Centre collaboration with the Chinese University of Hong Kong have huge mutual benefit. To all members of the University of Southampton.

So, in common with an essay on the mitochondrial genome, there is relief and circularity with the arrival of the final concluding paragraph. I don’t have time to mention that most students know that Southampton City exists, because it has a Premiership Football team. As a Newcastle United supporter, it is painful to admit this, but we may have to thank Ronald Koeman. Hartelijk bedankt. Ho’way-the-lads.

Hasta luego.

My thanks to (and huge trust in) Yurany, Albandri, Berenice, Aswathy, Phương Hoa Bùi, Sophia, Edo and Google (actually little trust in Google).


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International May 2016

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