Opinion Piece | Collaboration in Sri Lanka opens up new opportunities

Coventry University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) Richard Wells wearing a suit and tie

Coventry University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) Richard Wells

University news

Thursday 23 November 2023

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Following the news that Coventry University is in talks to potentially open a branded campus in Sri Lanka alongside the International Institute of Health Sciences (IIHS), our Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) Richard Wells speaks on the importance of harnessing healthcare partnerships across the globe.

Health is a huge part of how Coventry University Group is creating better futures, but we are not restricting those benefits or opportunities to the UK. We are continuing to look beyond our shores for the right partners and mutual benefits as we develop our global education Group.

With the higher education landscape in a state of constant flux and uncertainty, our ability to identify potential growth areas and seek out opportunities for development is crucial. This is not just a problem for us, it is a challenge facing universities up and down the country, especially when UK student fees have been frozen for several years and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Higher education is an export of which the UK can be incredibly proud, whether it is students coming here to study or Transnational Education (TNE), which sees students undertake our degree programmes in their home countries.

TNE is an area we are proud to be taking great strides in and we have now strengthened our existing ties with the International Institute of Health Sciences (IIHS) in Sri Lanka after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which includes the potential for a branded campus.

Ten years of working together

Our collaboration with IIHS began in 2013 with a pathway for undergraduate nursing students and in 2019 IIHS was approved as a TNE partner with a range of health courses currently being offered. There are now more than 1,300 active students enrolled on Coventry University programmes and modules at IIHS, with plans to increase the number of courses on offer.

We are ahead of the pack when it comes to agreements like this one and, as such, they do not represent a step into the unknown for our Group. Our successful campus operations in Egypt and Morocco, as well as our ongoing collaborations with over 150 higher education providers worldwide, is testament to this.

The importance of these international collaborations is not new. They are vital in enhancing our status on the world stage as a provider of quality education and play a significant role in boosting our reputation in international markets. However, our 2030 Group Strategy and mission are about changing lives for the better, not just at home, but around the world. Our most successful partnerships are built on trust but, what is equally important to us, is that they provide tangible benefits to those who call these regions home.

Like the partnerships in Egypt and Morocco before it, our collaboration with IIHS has and will continue to provide an ideal opportunity to do just that, while highlighting our role as an economic development partner. Through the courses we currently offer and those we will deliver in the future, we are helping develop local talent, providing them with the skills needed to succeed today while improving employability in the region and minimising the skills gap.

Whether graduates decide to stay in Sri Lanka or seek out opportunities in the UK is up to them, however, both come with lasting positive impacts for the local economy. Those who remain at home help enhance innovation and competitiveness in the region while those who seek out opportunities in the UK directly support the government’s ‘export of talent’ policy, a significant element of Sri Lanka’s economic strategy.

But why sign this agreement now and why with IIHS?

Firstly, this is a collaboration built on shared values and common goals. Like CUG (Coventry University Group), IIHS is committed to delivering community development through innovation, both locally and globally, while developing the next generation of healthcare professionals. Their values of inclusivity, excellence and creativity are ones we share and, like us, their approach is guided by innovation and international collaboration.

Our relationship with IIHS is constantly evolving and, since 2019, we have been consistently improving our offering in Sri Lanka. From a single BSc Nursing top-up and MSc Advancing Physiotherapy course, we are now providing a range of Coventry University health programmes and have plans to continue significantly increasing that course portfolio. With more than 1,300 active individual students enrolled on our programmes already, it is a perfect time to strengthen our relationship further.

This is also an agreement with one eye fixed on the future. Adaptability and a willingness to evolve are paramount to success in higher education and, while we look to advance our offering for students in Sri Lanka, IIHS are providing the ideal environment for them to succeed in their studies. Not only have they recently opened their new Multiversity, a world-class teaching and learning facility, but have also recently collaborated with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, an agreement which will support their ongoing growth through significant investment. This includes the building of a state-of-the-art teaching hospital on the IIHS Multiversity site.

Improving the health and wellbeing of our global communities is at the heart of much what we do. The signing of this MoU will allow us to do what we do best; delivering excellence in healthcare, while also providing us a platform to build on our own network of partnerships and improve our reputation as a leader in health education. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Sri Lanka’s leading institute of health education and facilitate improved healthcare in the region and beyond.