Exploring New Educational Horizons: Acumen-UK University Mission to Bangladesh

In an initiative to broaden educational frontiers in South Asia, Acumen, alongside the British Council, organised a mission to Bangladesh. The Acumen-UK University Mission aimed to deepen engagement between UK universities and Bangladesh’s premier schools and institutions, fostering potential collaborations and broadening the horizons of higher education.

The mission, which spanned from 23 April to 25 April 2024, was successful, offering a gateway for UK universities to engage with key stakeholders in the Bangladesh higher education sector. This included interactions with the British Council and the University Grants Commission (UGC), providing insights into the opportunities and challenges within the Bangladesh education market.

Day 1: Beginnings at the British Council

The mission began on 23 April with a session at the British Council in Dhaka. This session highlighted the role of the British Council in promoting international higher education in Bangladesh. UK university representatives engaged in discussions, gaining insights into UGC initiatives and the educational landscape in Bangladesh. For many university partners, this was their first experience in the Bangladeshi higher education sector.

The day culminated in a networking dinner with 12 career counsellors from top-ranked schools in Dhaka. This event provided a platform for fostering new relationships and deepening existing ones, allowing university representatives to understand international education trends from the perspectives of students and counsellors.

Day 2: School Visits and UGC Engagement

On 24 April, visits to prominent educational institutions began with Grace International School. Around 30-40 students interacted with UK university representatives, exploring the diverse offerings of each institution. This visit also facilitated connections with school counsellors, enhancing the understanding of student profiles and aspirations.

The day continued with a meeting with the UGC. This session provided a look at the policies and regulations shaping Bangladesh’s higher education sector. It was an enriching experience for the university delegates, who gained insights into potential partnerships and collaborations in Bangladesh.

Despite a heatwave advisory necessitating a virtual setup, a session with students from Daffodil International University maintained high levels of engagement. Around 40-45 students interacted with UK university delegates, exploring study options in the UK and showcasing interest in different programmes.

The day concluded with a networking dinner with 12 agent heads from top educational agencies. This event allowed UK university partners to showcase their institutions and gather feedback on market trends. New connections were formed, with plans for future collaborations taking root.

Day 3: Final Engagements and Future Prospects

On 25 April, interactions with Scholastica and Maple Leaf International School featured discussions with the management teams of these schools, gaining a deeper understanding of the market and planning future agendas for venturing into the Bangladeshi higher education sector.

Reflections from the Field

Feedback from participants underscored the mission’s success and impact. Shatakshee Kashyap, a Recruitment Advisor supporting Loughborough University, described the experience as “extremely enriching,” highlighting the insights gained from the British Council and UGC. Akshit Jain, Senior Recruitment Advisor supporting the University of Exeter, praised the seamless organisation and the proactive support provided throughout the tour. Annette Vincent Sebastian, Senior Recruitment Advisor supporting Aberystwyth University, emphasised the importance of establishing a counsellor network and understanding the student market in Bangladesh.

Titas Bose, Regional Recruitment Advisor supporting Lancaster University, noted the opportunity for personal engagement with key stakeholders, which sparked ideas and discussions about future collaborations.

The mission to Bangladesh was not just a series of meetings and interactions; it was a journey of discovery, collaboration, and laying the groundwork for a future rich in educational opportunities. The efforts of Acumen, the British Council, and all participating UK universities have paved the way for a deeper and more meaningful engagement with the educational landscape of Bangladesh.

The mission to Bangladesh was not just a series of meetings and interactions; it was a journey of discovery, collaboration, and laying the groundwork for a future rich in educational opportunities. The efforts of Acumen, the British Council, and all participating UK universities have paved the way for a deeper and more meaningful engagement with the vibrant educational landscape of Bangladesh.

To build on this success in South Asia, we invite universities from Australia, New Zealand, USA, and Canada to join future missions. By expanding this initiative, we can further enhance the global educational network, share best practices, and create even more opportunities for students and institutions alike.