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4th International Seminar – Looking Beyond 2020: Breaking Barriers to Higher Education; Global Perspectives and Solutions

March 8th 2023 10.00 to 11.45 GMT

The London School of Management Education (LSME) hosted the fourth International Seminar in the ‘Beyond 2020’ education series, this time focusing on the theme of ‘Breaking Barriers to Higher Education: Global Perspectives and Solutions’ via a Zoom platform enabled across multiple continents and time-zones.

Over 200 participants from the UK, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Nigeria, amongst others, shared ideas and insights from an internationally renowned keynote speaker, and the views of a specially convened international panel of education experts around the key theme and a range of sub-themes associated with it.

Dr Richen Chophel, Director General of the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), gave the Keynote address, noting the special role played by education in eliminating inequality and empowering disadvantaged groups. Dr Chophel, brought to bear over 35 years’ experience of working internationally on projects aligned with UN Special Development Goals, and focused on lifelong access to learning.

Citing examples of how the lack of enforcement can lead to a hollowing out of government education policy and principles, however well-intentioned, Dr Chophel explored the power of education in promoting collective wellbeing, personal dignity and enabling the world to be a ‘happier place’. It was noted that, without access to education from childhood and throughout grass roots of society, higher forms of education could become distant and inaccessible to groups whose emancipation through education is seen to be vital for lasting and positive change in society. Initiatives such as keeping children in school, legislating equality of access at every level and point of entry, and aligning social goals with educational provision were identified as key to breaking barriers to education.

A Panel Discussion followed, chaired by Professor Stephen McKinney (University of Glasgow) who spoke briefly around the importance of Quality of Education. Panel members explored a number of sub-themes relating to the broader issue of barriers to education, including:

  • Beyond removing the gender gap in education (Minister of State for Gender, Family and Social Services, Maldives, HE Dr Abdul Malik)
  • Geographical mobility (Professor Dr. Asif Mahbub Karim)
  • The rising cost of education (Professor Biju Kumar Thapalia)
  • Poverty and it’s impact on education access (Professor Rajan Welukar)
  • Infrastructure and resource lack (Dr Richa Sharma)
  • War, crisis and (global) emergencies (Dr Peter Gray)
  • Keeping up with transformation and change (Mr Martin McAreavey)

It was agreed at the end of the plenary session following the Panel Discussion, that there was certainly sufficient content in each of these sub-themes to merit at least a part two to the current theme, where ‘Barriers’ had been explored extensively, but without deep exploration of solutions and next steps. The organising committee agreed to look at ways of maintaining the momentum from this event into related follow-up seminars in the coming months.

During the closing exchange the Principal and Executive Directors from the host organisation, Dr Sarita Parhi and Dr Ravi Kumar thanked the speakers, delegates and supporting staff for their contributions. An announcement was made relating to the proposed dates for the next (10th) International Conference on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in London in October 2023. Delegates and speakers were thanked once again, and a final photographic record of participants was taken.

A quick poll was taken towards the end of the session, which indicated 71% of participants rated the event as ‘Excellent’, with a further 28% agreeing it had been ‘Good’. The ‘Beyond 2020’ series will continue later this spring, with a theme arising from today’s event to be announced shortly.

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