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Universities and Educational Institutions – Part one

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The majority of universities and educational bodies today are in some way “global”. All reputable establishments will operate partnership networks, overseas campuses and/or programmes of knowledge-exchange; in an increasingly commercialised environment, education must develop competitive advantage in much the same way as the for-profit sector. Accessibility to higher education has dramatically increased enrolments over the last 30 years, and this, coupled with a decrease in mobility costs and easing of logistical complexities, has created a global field of competition for universities.

The challenge itself: Confronting the issues

Despite the easing of global mobility barriers, universities still face significant challenges when faced with international hire or relocation situations. Funding is a frequent issue for education sector global ops teams; projects are often already cash-strapped and international assignments can be extremely costly endeavours if not executed properly. Research projects can be unpredictable and lead the researcher on short-notice international travel, and the lack of planning time can similarly lead to unnecessary expense. Extensive in-country activities could lead to an actual legal requirement for a local tax-paying entity, costly and unsuitable for unpredictable or indefinite-term projects. Another concern for many educational global ops teams is unfamiliarity with local employment law, taxation laws and immigration procedures, and a country’s stability from a duty of care viewpoint.

When faced with a new global hiring/relocation situation, what questions should you ask yourself?

Mistakes in global hire usually stem from lacking a full understanding of the project’s individual circumstances, or applying an inappropriate time/cost-saving solution. As there is rarely a “one-size-fits-all” approach, ensure you speak to experts and properly weigh the situation up before diving in.

  • Location- where will the individual be located? What is the stability of that location?
  • Nationality- where is the individual from? This could raise more questions about visas and tax liability.
  • Relationship- how is the person connected to your university? Is he/she a temporary hire and will he/she be offered another position once the original project is complete? Contractor or full employee?
  • Scope of work/ timescale involved- what type of work will the individual undertake at the planned location and for how long? Start and end dates are important for foreign nationals as they determine the best immigration routes. Even volunteers or low-paid interns may need a global mobility solution in place to carry out activities abroad.
  • Payment- will their payment come from your university or a 3rd party? The possibility of fluctuating exchange rates should be thought about and if payments will be made to/from a local bank account, consider the logistics and any losses which may be incurred as a result.
  • Partners- does the university have local partners who can assist with either advice or services? This may be a partner educational institutional or a 3rd party specialising in local hire.
  • Future plans- is this hire/relocation the gateway to bigger operations in the region in the future? A temporary solution may need to become permanent eventually; could you consider establishing a branch office or some other form of local entity? This could be more cost-effective long-term.


PART TWO Next Week: Streamlining Mechanisms You Can Use to Resolve the Global Challenge