The power of tertiary education – Fernanda Acosta

In March, we convened a two day meeting on maximising the power of tertiary education for global good. We invited two Chevening Scholars, two Commonwealth Scholars and one Marshall Scholar to share their personal reflections and journeys through education. As well as sharing those thoughts with delegates at the conference, we asked them to sum up their time at Wilton Park and give us their views on the importance of quality tertiary education for all.

Fernanda Acosta (Chevening Scholar, MSc Neuroscience and Education, University of Bristol) reflects on the importance of bringing diverse voices together to maximise the power of #tertiaryeducation


Tertiary education is a key element in the social and economic growth of the world. Higher Education institutions shelter the knowledge and research that is so necessary for the development of societies. In this context, the meeting in Wilton Park about Maximising the Power of Tertiary Education was focused on strengthening partnerships for global impact. We had the opportunity to count on the presence of representatives of different sectors and countries, allowing the discussion to be rich in perspectives and points of view.

Diverse topics were reviewed including the challenges and opportunities, best practices in different countries, international partnerships, among others. However, the reality in the world is that Higher Education has been historically an elite opportunity, and we are still in the process of guaranteeing access. In addition, I consider that other issues need to be addressed by the local and global policy community regarding the quality of the education, and the link of the programmes with employment and social innovation. The skills gap is becoming more evident with the all the challenges that are emerging with globalisation and technology.

The international partnerships in tertiary education can offer many benefits, including research collaborations and cultural exchange. However, there are some challenges that need to be considered such as the adaptation of teaching styles to the diverse background of international students, use of technology, academic freedom and social inclusion, among others.

I am one of the fortunate women in my country that studied a Bachelor’s degree, and now I am a Chevening Scholar doing an MSc in Neuroscience and Education. During my experience as a science student in the UK, I have been able to understand the importance of the interdisciplinary collaboration. There is no magic solution, but I consider it extremely important to connect the research, policy, and practice of education to come up with different solutions to the challenges in this field. Each one of these can provide a unique perspective on it, and with this, we can achieve the equity and quality of education for sustainable development. Furthermore, tertiary education should prepare the students for the challenges of the future and provide them with different tools to come up with innovative solutions to the social problems of the world.

For me, this experience as a female master’s student in other country has been a turning point not only in my professional an academic life, but also in my personal life including meeting people from different parts of the world, playing a role at events like this Wilton Park meeting to learn and share my ideas, collaborate with people with other ideologies and perspectives, recognise and share my culture, and plant the seed for future projects. Higher Education should be for all and there is still a lot of work to do to achieve it.

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