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Results tagged “Aston University” from Birmingham Post - Business Blog

"Libraries are the Cathedrals of this decennia", said Francine Houben speaking about her design for the new Library of Birmingham.

This was the third in the series of 'Design Built-In' lectures, held jointly by the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design and Aston University's School of Applied Science and Engineering Design attended by over 140 students and business people.

Some months back Prof Verganti of Politecnico di Milano said in the same lecture series that you innovate the meaning of things by "working through 'interpreters' - people with capacity to combine the 'big picture' with profound insights at company level."

Francine Houben, architect and director Mecanoo, and designer of the new Library of Birmingham is just such an interpreter.

"People don't buy products anymore because they need them, they buy them because they love them."

These words could have been spoken by any of our great West Midlands businesses - Jaguar Land Rover, Aga Rangemaster, Aston Martin, Morgan Motor Company, Pashley Cycles or Brintons Carpets...companies wrestling daily to re-invent their much-loved classic brands.

It may strike you as a statement of the blindingly obvious but, according to Professor Roberto Verganti of Milan Polytechnic and Copenhagen Business School, it hasn't been fully grasped by many businesses and Business Schools around the world who are focussing on user-centred design and ideas-generated innovation rather than 'radical design innovation' to generate increased sales and profits as well as customer loyalty.

Amid all the doom and gloom surrounding the budget, record levels of debt, unemployment and swine flu (am I the only person who watches the news from behind the sofa these days?), here's a genuine good news story for UK plc.

So please stand and cheer whilst the UK Higher Education sector steps forward and takes a well-deserved bow. Pride of place goes to the ability of our universities to attract overseas students to live and study in the UK. According to the Higher Education Policy Institute's Director, Bahram Bekhradnia, international students (who are treated as an export for these purposes) contribute more to the UK economy than exports in the drinks, textiles, clothing, publishing or media sectors. In fees and living expenses, the more than 300,000 overseas students living and working in the UK between 2006 and 2007 spent over £4 billion. HEPI calculates that this is a net contribution to the UK's GDP of more than £2 billion. By any measure, that's a lot of money, and would merit that description in boom times as well as bust.

It's also good news for the West Midlands with a number of our leading institutions - Aston University in particular (overseas students paid Aston over £14m in fees, 16% of its total fee income, in 2006-2007 and will have invested much more into the local economy) - proving to be very attractive to overseas students.

So, despite all of the press stories about exams (both at school and university) getting easier, the UK education system is still widely admired for the quality of its teaching and research.

However, Mr Bekhradnia warns that there are a couple of clouds on the horizon. First, the fact that, although popular, a UK higher education is expensive. In 2006, Australian Education International calculated that the average total cost of a UK BA or BSc was $93,382; about $10,000 more than an American public university ($82,986) but significantly less than a private American college ($161,257). This makes Britain the second most expensive destination for international students.

He also warns that a number of those countries who export the most students - India and China in particular - are investing heavily in improving their home-grown higher education provision, suggesting that the potential number of international students will shrink over time. This presents a different set of challenges for UK Higher Education; not least in relation to academic collaboration and the provision of the UK degrees abroad. The good news is that our universities' track record of success suggests that they are more than ready to meet the challenge.

Now why didn't Mr Darling mention this in the budget?

Business authors

David Bailey

David Bailey - Professor of Industrial Strategy at the Aston Business School, Birmingham
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Stuart Pemble

Stuart Pemble - Construction Lawyer, Mills & Reeve
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John Clancy

John Clancy - Birmingham City Councillor and director of mediafuturesalert.com and justliteracy.com
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John Samuels

John Samuels - Professor of Business Finance, Birmingham Business School
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Chris Tomlinson

Chris Tomlinson - Chris Tomlinson is the founder of social media and online PR agency Friend (frienddigital.com)
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Andrew Whitehead

Andrew Whitehead - Senior partner at law firm SGH Martineau, leading the firm's Energy & Climate Change practice.
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Keith Gabriel

Keith Gabriel - A Birmingham-based PR Account Manager
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Beverley Nielsen

Beverley Nielsen - Lecturer, Design Management, at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, BCU
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Mike Loftus

Mike Loftus - Director of News from the Future Ltd. Writing on the trials of setting up your own business
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Richard Halstead

Richard Halstead - Midlands region director for EEF, the manufacturers organisation.
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Karl Edge

Karl Edge - partner at KPMG in Birmingham, specialising in automotive, manufacturing and house building sectors.
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Peter Owen

Peter Owen - Managing director for construction firm Willmott Dixon Midlands.
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Dr Steven McCabe

Dr Steven McCabe - director of research degrees for Birmingham City Business School.
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Francis Greene

Francis Greene - Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, at the University of Birmingham.
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Alan Gilmour

Alan Gilmour - Director at Cogent Elliott, experienced in marketing, brand development and customer relationship management.
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Paul Noon

Paul Noon - Paul Noon, OBE, West Midlands International Trade Director at UK Trade & Investment.
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