The Dubai perspective with Dr Cedwyn Fernandes
Pro-Vice Chancellor, Director, Middlesex University, Dubai campus
How do you see the global impact and reputation of Middlesex University?
Developing branch campuses can be a tricky business and Middlesex Dubai is one of the largest and most successful UK campuses in the world. I’m often contacted by Vice-Chancellors from other universities wanting to discuss best practice.
One of our most important impacts has been to show how UK education can be successful in other parts of the world. We have opened up new markets in non-Commonwealth countries in the Far East and Latin America, where people aren’t as familiar with British education.
I believe our main contribution to the global stage comes from the fact we are a truly global university. Today’s citizen is a global citizen. Issues like sustainability and race relations affect us all. This idea of one world, one family, has been really brought to the fore during the pandemic.
How do you see Middlesex’s approach to research and knowledge transfer and its position in the world?
We’re an active research faculty, with leading areas including sustainable tourism, robotics, and the amalgamation of robotics with medical technology, economics as well as social cause issues.
We have a multidisciplinary research agenda. As a smaller faculty, we’re not isolated in different buildings and there’s a lot of collaboration
Much of our research agenda is driven by local needs. For example, a lot of existing management research is focused on Western models. We carried out a study recently on organisational justice and job satisfaction and those results will offer unique insight into people’s attitudes and reactions specifically in our region.
Industry research groups are a key strategic partner for the future. The UAE currently has a small and nascent research culture. At Middlesex we have MDX Insights, a data analytics centre, where we invite any company, mainly in the region, to give us anonymized data for our students to analyse and share results. It’s a platform for students and businesses to work together. For example, we are working on domestic violence research, using virtual reality. We will hopefully be working with the Dubai Police using this research to try and change behaviour and reduce abuse.
What are your thoughts on the culture and ways of working we need at Middlesex to meet the needs of the coming decade and beyond?
At Middlesex, we have no boundaries between teaching and non-teaching staff. Everybody’s role and opinion is equally important. We get everybody involved in the decision-making. We work in a very cohesive way, and we’re proud of that and it’s a key strength.
For me, the number one thing is getting your base right and for me that’s teaching and the syllabus you’re delivering. The syllabus must be really contemporary, constantly upgraded, and always focused on students’ needs. We also owe it to our students to give them a first-class education and the full university experience. Students may only get one shot at university life, so we have to make sure they get the best experience in all areas and I think there’s more we can do to collaborate across all of Middlesex’s campuses to support this.
Four key phases to developing our new strategy:
- Ideas generation, visioning and planning for the development of the consultation website and paper
- Engagement on the consultation with staff, students and stakeholders to develop ideas and refine our thinking into an enhanced proposal paper (Autumn 2020)
- Testing and consultation on the proposal paper to develop final strategy documentation (Winter 2020-21)
- Drafting, approval and design of MDX 2031 Strategy (Spring 2021)
Engage with our strategy
These ideas are a starting point – now it is over to you. Have some fun and tell us what you think of this proposal.