Gibraltar Business Podcast

S6. E4. Prof. Catherine Bachleda, Vice-Chancellor University of Gibraltar

April 03, 2024 David Revagliatte Season 6 Episode 4
S6. E4. Prof. Catherine Bachleda, Vice-Chancellor University of Gibraltar
Gibraltar Business Podcast
More Info
Gibraltar Business Podcast
S6. E4. Prof. Catherine Bachleda, Vice-Chancellor University of Gibraltar
Apr 03, 2024 Season 6 Episode 4
David Revagliatte

David Revagliatte meets Professor Catherine Bachleda, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gibraltar.  They explore the university's focused approach to student employability and the truth behind the PGCE program's accreditation, debunking myths and bringing clarity to the university's growing global reputation.

We explore the University of Gibraltar's economic impact on our community, highlighting how it fosters a skilled workforce and works with the business sector to drive and stimulate economic growth. We also touch on the visionary steps the university is taking towards financial independence and the ways in which AI is integrated into its teaching methodologies.

Thanks for listening to the Gibraltar Business Podcast by the GFSB! Follow us on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

David Revagliatte meets Professor Catherine Bachleda, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gibraltar.  They explore the university's focused approach to student employability and the truth behind the PGCE program's accreditation, debunking myths and bringing clarity to the university's growing global reputation.

We explore the University of Gibraltar's economic impact on our community, highlighting how it fosters a skilled workforce and works with the business sector to drive and stimulate economic growth. We also touch on the visionary steps the university is taking towards financial independence and the ways in which AI is integrated into its teaching methodologies.

Thanks for listening to the Gibraltar Business Podcast by the GFSB! Follow us on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook!

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the Gibraltar Business Podcast. I'm your host, david Ragliate, and I am joined by a different guest each episode to discuss things like leadership, business balance and explore some of the global issues that affect their particular sector. If you already know the show, welcome back. If you're just discovering the podcast, hello and welcome and thanks for tuning in. The Gibraltar Business Podcast is brought to you by the GFSB and is sponsored by Gibraltar International Bank, a bank that shares our passion for business.

Speaker 1:

Now, long before launching this podcast, I spent 10 years developing communications and marketing strategies for London's top creative university that's University of the Arts London. There, at a university with 20,000 students, I learned how competitive the global higher education market can be. When I returned to Gibraltar, I used how competitive the global higher education market can be. When I returned to Gibraltar, I used that experience to support Gibraltar University's growth. Working alongside this week's guest for four years, I am delighted to welcome Professor Catherine Baklida, vice-chancellor at the University of Gibraltar, on the show today. Since opening its doors in 2015, gibraltar University has been developing and growing a niche portfolio of programs and increasing student numbers year on year. This is not an easy thing to do. It's a true success story, and much of that is due to Professor Baklida's unique style of leadership. I hope you enjoy the interview. So, catherine, thank you for joining me on the podcast today.

Speaker 2:

Pleasure, absolute pleasure, david. Many of the listeners will know this, but I've been trying to get Catherine on the show since season one. Busy times at the university.

Speaker 1:

Always is always is. Before we start the interview and to maybe change the usual format of the show, is that I want to do quickfire questions with you about the uni Okay, yeah happy to Things that, things that like while I've been meeting people through the magazine or with the podcast. There's a lot of myths, I feel, about the uni, so I just wanted to kind of quick fire and get our listeners up to scratches to what the University of Gibraltar is all about.

Speaker 2:

Okay, great.

Speaker 1:

So when did the university open its doors?

Speaker 2:

Oh 2015 September.

Speaker 1:

Can you please tell us the number of students currently enrolled at the university?

Speaker 2:

592, which I think takes a lot of people by surprise 592,.

Speaker 1:

Wow, how many faculty members are there at the University of Gibraltar.

Speaker 2:

About 30 plus, and the reason I say that is we have quite a lot of part-timers, adjunct lecturers, and the reason for that I know this is quick fire, but I just can't help myself the reason for that is that we are very much about employability, and so we try to have all of our lecturers not only having the academic qualifications that they need to have, but also really important is their industry experience. And if we can actually provide lecturers that are currently in the workplace, it allows them to be able to translate that theory they're teaching into practice, and that's really important for us. So we do have quite a lot of part-timers.

Speaker 1:

How many courses or programmes does the university offer?

Speaker 2:

Currently we offer 14, and that consists of five undergraduate and nine postgrad.

Speaker 1:

And what levels can student pursue at the university?

Speaker 2:

We're predominantly level four and above, but we do do some level two and level three, like the AAT, for example, and some of our technical, particularly maritime for example, would be, you know, that sort of level two, level three, but predominantly level four, which means undergraduate, postgraduate. So level four, which means undergraduate postgraduate, so level four, goes from four, five and six and then when you get to a master's degree you're at seven and if you get to a phd, eight and what percentage of your student population is from outside Gibraltar ah, this is interesting because it's growing.

Speaker 2:

so we currently have 49 percent of our student population is international students, but it's programme specific. So something like our nursing degree is completely all 100% Gibraltarian. Occasionally you might get the odd UK student but 100% Gibraltarian Whereas something like our maritime or our marine 100% international because we've already saturated the local market.

Speaker 1:

One of the myths out there that I find is that some people have said that the University of Gibraltar's degrees aren't equivalent to those of the UK.

Speaker 2:

Oh gosh, I don't know Actually. Well, I have a feeling I know where this came from. It's really interesting. No, look anywhere in the globe that actually accepts a UK degree will accept a Gibraltarian, a University of Gibraltar degree. Why a UK degree will accept a Gibraltarian, a University of Gibraltar degree? Why? Because we're QAA, which is the UK Quality Assurance Agency. We are internationally accredited. All of our external examiners for our programs come from the UK. All of our programs are accredited through the UK.

Speaker 2:

I think this myth came from way back in the beginning with our PGCE degree and in order to have your PGCE recognised in the UK and get on to what they call the teacher QTS, qualified teacher status, you need to be on a list of jurisdictions that are accepted. It's a piece of legislation that was actually developed, implemented long before there was ever a thought of there being a University of Gibraltar, so we weren't on the list and, in essence, we needed to spend a year working with the Department for Education to get Gibraltar not the University of Gibraltar, gibraltar on the list. We are now on that list.

Speaker 2:

You're on the list're on this way well, we've been on it for a long time, but that's where that myth came from. So no, all of our programs are always aligned to the UK. Anywhere that you would recognize a UK degree will recognize our degree brilliant for a quick fire round.

Speaker 1:

That was a bit longer, it was thank you. Catherine can't help myself so, catherine, can you share your your career career journey to taking on this role at the university?

Speaker 2:

Oh gosh. Well, of course I'm only 21, but I have 15. I worked for 15 years in the tertiary environment before I actually came here, but that was sort of underpinned by 25 years. As I say, I'm only a youngster 25 years in the service industries of health, law and education. And I have worked all over the world. Really. I've worked in North Africa, the Middle East, the USA, the UK, australia and now here in Gibraltar. I have been a CEO of an accredited corporate organization. That was when I was in Australia providing executive continuing education.

Speaker 2:

I was the director of a small corporate law firm in Australia and then, before I came here to Gibraltar, I was working in Morocco as the assistant vice president of academics in an accredited US style university in Morocco and there is a very it depends on how much time your viewers have I used to come over.

Speaker 2:

My husband and I used to come over here to Gibraltar quite regularly to get all the stuff we couldn't get in Morocco, you know so. We were one of those terrible people that would fill your car up with all the stuff from Morrison's or Oroski and then go back across you know, in this case the ocean. And I had said to a colleague gosh. You know, in a perfect world they would open a university in Gibraltar. And then somebody heard me and, lo and behold, my husband actually saw the advert in the paper and said gosh, gosh, this is for the VC, because I came here initially as the deputy VC, not the vice chancellor, and saw this advert. He said you could do this, you could do this. And that was the beginning of the story, as it were.

Speaker 1:

So you have been here since early on in the university 2017.

Speaker 2:

So I've been here almost seven years.

Speaker 1:

So seven years is a lot of time.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

And time is always an issue with the podcast.

Speaker 2:

But what have been some of those key highlights?

Speaker 1:

and achievements that have been under your leadership.

Speaker 2:

Well, I think I'm going to break that down into two things. On the one hand, I think, when I first came, key things that I set up with the team, obviously, but initially collaborating with the government and the GRA here in Gibraltar, as well as UK governance, hefce, and that was to establish the academic governance framework for the university. We just didn't have that when I first came here. So I'm talking about the academic regulations, the academic board, which is the senate, and, if you want to use a more popular term, subcommittees regulatory body, all of those things that you want to use a more popular term, subcommittees regulatory body all of those things that you need to have an actual framework to deliver degrees. None of that was, at that point, set up and even other sort of more fundamental things for staff and working with the staff, the unions, you know, ensuring that we had an HR handbook. Those were the sort of initial things that were really important to organize. Having a transparent pay and reward system and developing and this for me is fundamental developing a structured, measurable strategic plan with KPIs and targets. Now under that we, and it's very much a we targets Now under that we, and it's very much a we because I think that, you know, no VC or CEO can work without a fantastic team, and I have a fantastic team. I think I'm very, very lucky, very privileged.

Speaker 2:

So over the last six years or so we have been awarded, as I touched on earlier, global accreditation by the UK Quality Assurance Agency, yep, and that's no mean feat in itself. We achieved all 10 standards at the first attempt. Very few organizations or universities manage that. They usually have one or two that they've not quite met. We managed to get all 10 at the first attempt. We've also been more recently last year invited to join the very, very prestigious and highly influential universities UK. We are now a member of that organization and that makes us the only only university outside of the UK to be a member of that organization. As I say, it's a very influential, highly prestigious organization, so we're very, very proud of that.

Speaker 2:

We've achieved a student employment rate for every single graduating cohort to date of between 92 and 97 percent of our graduates within six months of graduating are either in work or further study. Well, how do I compare that? Well, I compare that to HESA, which is the UK Higher Education Statistical Agency, and the typical university or average in the UK is 80 to 83%. So that in itself, I think, is a huge achievement. We've also established, as I said earlier, 14 academic degrees and we've got four more in various stages at this point of approval. In through it, through the UK education system or validation system, offered an array of professional development, cpd, language, maritime technical training courses to local businesses.

Speaker 2:

Government increased our international standing when we're talking about research, particularly through our Centre of Excellence in Responsible Gaming and our research hubs, such that we're now, and have been in recent times, been invited to collaborate on research projects with some of the top international universities, including Yale University and Cambridge. Again, I think for a young university, that's really a huge accolade to the hard work of the entire team. Had 85% of our publications research publications published in high-impact journals, I think there'd be quite a few UK universities well-established that'd be very happy to have those kind of stats Reduced. Our government grant I know you're probably going to pick on that later because it's always something of interest and I think, last but not least, I mean there's more. But last but not least, we have an average of 96% of our students indicate that they feel satisfied that the knowledge and skills they take away from their program will support their career aspirations, which, for me, is what a university is here for that brings me on to to my next question.

Speaker 1:

That's wow. That's a lot of achievement in seven years and it kind of it shows that it's not just in in portfolio development. It's a lot about the university's profile internationally, right, yes. But bringing that back to our local community here in Gibraltar, in your view, what role does the University of Gibraltar play in the community?

Speaker 2:

Well, in all honesty, think about where Gibraltar is in fact globally Right now.

Speaker 2:

I think the priority for Gibraltar is to stimulate economic growth, and that's the same everywhere, it's not just Gibraltar.

Speaker 2:

And so I believe that the university contributes to economic growth by one educating and training local individuals, whether that's nurses, computing specialists, business entrepreneurs, accounting professionals, maritime cadets, etc. To produce an increasing number of highly skilled local graduates, but also attracting a growing number of international students, which provide an increasing amount of associated spending and contribute to the Gibraltarian economy. So it's a twofold thing. And if I was to sort of give you a couple of stats, over the last three years we have locally trained or educated between 500 and 1000 per year of students or graduates, whether that's in access or short courses, professional courses and academic programs. And then when I start to look at the impact of international students on the Gibraltarian economy, this year it would have been around the 8.3 million, and that's using the process that's used in the UK for assessing that which comes from the London economics analysis approach, that's, you know, for a small university, 8.3 million is a sizable contribution and we will see that grow.

Speaker 1:

So that figure takes into account how much they spend here, how much they Correct. Yeah, all of the above Similar and maybe a bit more specific on that question is that how does it contribute to Gibraltar's?

Speaker 2:

business ecosystem.

Speaker 1:

Do you work with local businesses? How can local businesses who may listen to this interview we achieve our graduate outcomes employability skills, basically, where we have many businesses who provide placements for our students.

Speaker 2:

I touched on this earlier about employability degree. Let's pick on the business degree. They will invariably have their students undertake one placement, usually towards the end of that three-year degree if I'm an undergraduate, and it can be sometimes a great opportunity for them to develop some skills. Or it can be a little bit like my own experience when I turned up on a Friday and they'd already arranged for me to turn up at a particular organization and it was like, oh gosh, oh yes, catherine, oh, oh, there's some photocopying over there which really didn't benefit me and it certainly didn't benefit the organization that I was there, whereas we work very, very closely with business for all of our placements and we will look at how can we benefit you and at the same time, achieve the student's learning outcomes.

Speaker 2:

So we'll develop a it's always project-based. We'll develop a project that's going to Maybe it's development of a marketing plan, for example, whatever it happens to be where it allows that student to put into practice what they're learning in the classroom. At the same time, it allows them to develop fantastic networking skills, one of the reasons I'm sure that all of our students, as I said earlier, 92% to 96% of our students are in employment within six months of graduation is because they're already setting up those networks when they do placements. So we ensure that our students are doing some form of placement undergrads at least every year. So they're either doing a very project-based project, you know, project industry-based- Much more than shredding right, yeah, much, much more than shredding.

Speaker 2:

And for our postgrads, same thing we ensure that all of their assessments are industry relevant. You know, if I'm learning something, I want to be able to apply that to industry, and so I think it's a two-way street. They're industry benefit and so I think it's a two-way street. They are an industry benefit and we work with industry in terms of when we're developing programs. So I'm going to tell you another little story. I had lots and lots of requests. For you know why is the university not doing a degree in computing? Well, because I always, as a team, we look at, well, you know, any new degree that we put together or, you know, launch needs to be able to be sustainable, and I know that locally the market is not necessarily going to be unlike nursing. Nursing is a special case, if you like, but after a short period of time you're going to saturate the local market. So that really means that you need to be able to attract some international students. In the ideal world, which we pretty much have, most of our business degrees you've got about 50-50, 50% locals, 50% international students. But why would an international student come to Gibraltar to do a computing degree when you can do them anywhere, and I mean anywhere in the world, because every university. So we sat down and we spoke to the local industry here, we spoke to all the fintech, we spoke to all the tech-orientated, the gaming industry and, what was really, really interesting, when we asked them the question well, what are you really looking for in your graduates and what is missing currently in your graduates? And they pretty much all said, well, yes, obviously, computing, computational skills. And we get that. And I said, well, what's missing? And they said, all of us are in these really fast-paced, tech-orientated, you know organizations and, to use their terminology, what is missing is we need graduates that also have business nows and they use those, also have business nows and they use those words business nows. So we developed the computing entrepreneurship undergraduate degree.

Speaker 2:

We also then asked graduates, if you had your time over again, what would have made it easier for you to get a job? And almost all of them said, well, it's the technical, you know professional skills from Google or Microsoft. Now, why do most universities not do technical Microsoft? Because most of them are level two or level three, whereas most universities start, as I touched on earlier, level four, which is your undergrad.

Speaker 2:

So we basically went and had a chat to Stuart Harrison at the Digital Skills Academy and said how can we work together to ensure that our students get these qualifications as well? And we have a fantastic system and I'm really, really pleased to be working with the Digital Skills Academy in this regard. So all of our students who undertake the Computing Entrepreneur have the opportunity to undertake in addition to their degree. We do a bit of a top-up skills session with them and they can undertake Google or Microsoft for every single one of the computational. So they come out with a degree that gives them business now, gives them all the computational skills they need and the professionally recognised technical qualifications, and we have got the local businesses queuing up to get our graduates, which is again working with industry?

Speaker 1:

Did you find there was a market for those students then?

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes yes, and we've got a lot of interest in those students, simply because there isn't sufficient. Again here in Gibraltar, I think a lot of the um and when I talk to business I hear that quite a lot that they need more of those type of skills here in Gibraltar, because because one thing, because you know you, you're on the money.

Speaker 1:

If you think of, like, entrepreneurship being huge theme, a lot of um, you know it's a priority for a lot of universities, a lot of governments, a lot of things to know. It's a priority for a lot of universities, a lot of governments, a lot of things to try to try and generate more entrepreneurs. Can it be taught? Can entrepreneurship?

Speaker 2:

be taught? Oh, that's the life. That's the old old question. Yes, I think it can to a certain degree. Um, but you know, can I teach you to come up with a great idea? Not necessarily, but I can give you all that, those skills that if you can come up with something that's going to be sellable, if you like, I can give you all the skills that's going to enable you to take advantage of that and make it a success. Exactly, that's exactly right.

Speaker 1:

Catherine, one of the things that the university has done from the start is publish detailed annual reports every year since right since it's opened its doors, or pretty much very much since you've been in charge.

Speaker 2:

Yes. Why is accountability so important? Well, because it allows stakeholders, in effect, to see how the university is contributing to the economy and how the university is spending some of the taxpayers' money, and I think that really is its transparency.

Speaker 1:

The last report. I've been reading it before the interview. It shows another strong year yes you've reported solid growth in tuition fee income, and student enrollments are up too. What's behind this growth?

Speaker 2:

hard work and tea. That's pretty much it, and I think the biggest thing is we focus on what we can do well. We cannot be all things to all people, so what can't you be to all people? A great degree. We don't have the capacity. We're never going to be able to have a competitive advantage in that particular degree, but we can have a competitive advantage in a whole lot of other things, such as maritime, marine business and so forth. So pick what you can do well and excel at. For me, it's all about we'll always be a small university because space and we're very much about the face-to to face participative learning approach, so you need space for that. But at the same time, what can I do well that will attract both locals and internationals?

Speaker 1:

That's great. At this point, seven years in identifying what you're good at and playing to your strengths, as you say, what were the things along the way that maybe didn't stick or didn't show as a strength?

Speaker 2:

Well, actually and again this was thought of way back at the beginning was hospitality. Now, you know, the gym is a hospitality hub. We have a lot of individuals. The difficulty and we did look at that option and we tried incredibly hard, we spoke to this was even before my time there'd been quite a number of conversations about trying to get something like a hospitality degree. Now, when I was in K-12, I really started to talk to the local industry.

Speaker 2:

One of the key problems that you have, if you look at the overall student demand, if you were to look at across all the whether it's undergrad or postgraduate 68% of the market is business and management. That's where 68% of your potential students go into business marketing management. If you now look at how much of that student population goes into hospitality, you're talking two to three percent. Very, very, very, very small market to even start with. So it's again how and why would somebody come here? The local market is actually not interested in doing a hospitality degree, even though even though hospitality is a big economic it's huge because yeah you don't have too many locals that want to go into that now, uh, you know why is that?

Speaker 2:

I think there's a whole raft of you know reasons for that, but from a university's perspective it's. Would this be a sustainable degree? And the answer was no. And we we tried a lot of things, we spoke to a lot of unicat versus in the uk. Can we do something? And unfortunately, at this point in time, I never say never because you just don't know what will happen in the future, but at this point in time it just doesn't make a.

Speaker 1:

It's just not viable if you look at the wider kind of picture in gibraltar plc and you look at the pillars, I guess, of our economy, um, we've got financial services and the university works with that um, it feels funny that with tourism, say, um, with hospitality, it it didn't work yes, but we have taken advantage of that in another way.

Speaker 2:

So, for example yesterday um, I'm sure you would have heard we just opened up our wonderful new fire simulator I apologize, I didn't, but I did see the building.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes it really is very impressive, very generously donated by elena um.

Speaker 2:

Why is that going to be a useful thing for the hospitality industry?

Speaker 2:

Well, crew on any cruise ship need to be trained, and one of the things that allows us and they have some mandatory training like, for example, firefighting and advanced firefighting, and we are now working with the cruise ships coming in so we're providing, for example, training to Virgin Cruises, p&o, cunard, a whole raft of pretty much most of the big names that come into Gibraltar, of pretty much most of the big names that come into Gibraltar, and we've actually got 40 programs booked for the rest of this year, which is why we needed this wonderful fire simulator.

Speaker 2:

And, more importantly, a number of those cruise liners are actually saying they will stay longer in Gibraltar in order for them to undertake additional crew training, which is just brilliant, and we're in a perfect situation. They can literally call into port, we pick them up and can have them here at our fire simulator within 10 minutes or so. They do the training, which is invariably half a day depends on whether it's half a day or full day, but whatever they stay and then they go back. Just brilliant, and I think that's another way that, in going forward. We will contribute more and more to the Gibraltar economy by bringing in ships specifically to do our training, by adding to what Gibraltar can offer.

Speaker 2:

Precisely, and make us a maritime centre of excellence. You know, add to that maritime centre of excellence.

Speaker 1:

It may not be hospitality itself to the work, work.

Speaker 2:

But there's another way of working with exactly, exactly um going back to the report um the last report and that's the fact that people stay here longer.

Speaker 1:

Of course, it helps exactly exactly yeah, I know that some of our many of our listeners will appreciate more people and football down main street, so so, yes, let's hope that that does happen. The last report I was reading has showed that you reduced your dependency on taxpayer funds. Your grant went down by 250,000. How much does the university currently get from government each year?

Speaker 2:

At the moment it's 750, 750 000 and that's down from now we've actually had, we've reduced our reliance and depends on whether we include, you know, donations and whatever. But between we're down to below, below um 20. So um, and our last annual report I think it was 17 of our total income coming in comes from government. The rest we self-finance. In effect, now 750. We've in the last three years had our subvention, which is what that is from government, chopped by 50%. There's not too many agencies that can say they've actually managed that. It's been extremely difficult for us and it's always this double-edged sword. If you look at the uk, there is no and I mean no university in the uk, not even the russell group that actually do not rely part on government funding. And sometimes it's that double-edged sword because if we chopped too much then we don't have, we can't develop more programs which ultimately brings in more cash to the economy. So it's always a tricky one.

Speaker 1:

Is your hope, then, to become completely financially independent Over time?

Speaker 2:

So our act actually says the university will become self-funding. But if you go back to the intent of that act and if you actually talk to the minister that actually was responsible for that act so our first minister, it very much was well, no, we're not expecting this overnight. This is a long-term sort of thing. So over time we will become. So I'm sure we will become. We'll make the exception to the typical UK university and over time we will. But I think there has to be a, you know, an incremental approach to allow us to also grow and develop and be on more programs, because developing a new program costs time but ultimately you get lots of other rewards from that it's it's a long, it's a it's it's going to be a long process but I think just judging from where you are, seems to be going in the right we're definitely going in the right direction.

Speaker 1:

I've got the gray hairs to prove it katherine one of the big themes of this season of the podcast is um looking at what my guests, how they their attitudes to work, but also how they're facing some of the challenges um that are hitting business, you know, in different companies worldwide. One of those themes is ai right so, ai?

Speaker 1:

as we know, artificial intelligence has been around for many years, but recently that generative yes has kind of had a boom and a lot of companies are embracing it or not, or sticking their heads in the sand. Um, I can imagine, for the university, as an educational organization or establishment, needs to approach it differently, right? How is the University of Gibraltar?

Speaker 2:

Oh well, let me. Actually we're slightly different to some, but I think more coming on board to the way that we are approaching it. So perhaps I'll go back a little bit. I was recently at an ACU, which is a Commonwealth Universities Association, basically, and it was quite interesting listening to some of the international universities in the Commonwealth.

Speaker 2:

I think most universities are quite concerned about AI because you're talking about the fact that students can use it, maybe to write their assignments for them, etc. And there were some that were actually saying, gosh, we're going to try and ban it. I'm not quite sure how you are going to ban AI. You know it's just an impossible ask, but from our perspective the University of Gibraltar, we're very much.

Speaker 2:

The reality is that industry wants and will need graduates that can use AI and generative AI I'm talking about GPT, chat and all the rest of it because it can, if it's used ethically and critically, it can assist you to be more productive in the workplace. So from my perspective, or our perspective as a university, it's all about ensuring that those students learn how to use it critically and ethically. And if you really do have concerns about a particular assignment, you know I need to check that the student has achieved this learning outcome. Well, maybe sometimes an assignment is not the best way to actually assess whether they have now got that knowledge, so maybe you do it, assessing them in a different way. For example, maybe I get you to do a presentation and is that?

Speaker 1:

is that happening? Because, yes, the way I've seen is it's moving so, so fast. It's almost like an existential crisis for a lot of um jobs potentially across the across the world, but also the educational institution. So give me an example of how maybe you've had to change an assessment well, exactly as I just said.

Speaker 2:

So you might, in the past, have said well, you know, this learning outcome requires you to do an assignment, a written assignment, 5,000 words. Well, I may now ask you instead of that, I want you to work in a group, and fine, I don't mind if you use AI to generate those ideas. But I am now going to get you to do a presentation and there's going to be a panel that is going to throw some questions at you so I can make sure that you actually know how that actually applies. Look, it's a bit like the calculator. When the calculator came in all those years back, my goodness, everybody was sort of panicking. It's going to close down the world, sort of thing. But the reality is we rely on calculators and anybody that teaches any sort of maths or maths-based degree or program, they expect you to use your calculator, and I think that that's how the world will go, and universities in particular, they will expect you to use.

Speaker 1:

So you've still got to study.

Speaker 2:

Gen AI. Well, exactly, but you've still got to have critical thoughts. You've still got to Because sometimes you look at this stuff and you think and I will give an example, one of my colleagues actually just recently. I asked them for something and they sent me this unbelievably well-structured response. And I went back to this because I just know that my colleague does not write in that way and I said was this chat GTP? He said yes, brilliant isn't it? I said yes, but I can tell that is not you and some of that stuff is not really relevant to the question I was asking you. So my recommendation is fine, use chat gdb, but at least go through and modify it absolutely.

Speaker 1:

You know, I think, like you, I can spot it, but I can spot it now, maybe in time is we won't be able to. I think it's it's. You know, the way I see it is that you need to be seeing how it works ahead of the curve and see how it works as a tool. So yeah, so it's good to see your you're thinking about that, and for your programs as well um, and we've also got something that a lot of universities are still grappling with.

Speaker 2:

We actually have a policy and we are now giving both our students and our lecturers training in generative AI. Lecturers in how to use this in the classroom, because sometimes they actually don't know how to use it. And students, because students actually get very nervous. There's a lot of students there that say I know my friends using it and they may get a better assessment outcome. And I don't want to because I know it's not right, but so they're actually grappling with it. So we now have a very clear policy and we actually give you know at the beginning of every semester. We give training to both our tutors, our lecturers, as well as our students. But it's changing.

Speaker 1:

It's a changing landscape the whole time, absolutely you know I think you you can compare it to the calculator, to everything else and um one of my previous guests, uh, on this season actually was basadoni. They have opened up and let their staff um to have co-pilot Microsoft's AI tool at work. So you know, it's to see how it's being embraced.

Speaker 2:

The future, I think the future.

Speaker 1:

Talking of which, what are your plans for the university's growth and its contribution to Gibraltar's development?

Speaker 2:

Well, basically continued incremental growth and, you know, contributing to the Gibraltar economics in Gibraltar. Academically-wise, we're continuing to launch new programs. In fact, this September we have the MSc in Maritime Sustainable Operations. Again, we've worked with industry. Why are we doing that degree? Because industry, particularly maritime, is now becoming much, much more sustainable. You know, sustainable fuels, for example, orientated, and there is going to be quite a bit of professional body change so it become regulated that you need to be looking at these sustainable fuels for example, clearly a gap in the current provision of most universities because there is very little out there in that area.

Speaker 2:

So that's what we're launching in September. We're quite excited about it because I think it's cutting edge. It really is. In addition, our BSc in Mental Health. We have worked with the GHA, both Sandy Garcia, who's the Director of Nursing, but also Kevin McGee, who's the Director General, and with them and their workforce planning the university has been working very closely. So we've got a number of programs coming up. But the important one for September is the BSc in Mental Health and in fact it's just literally gone through the validation process to the UK. We've got all the ticks. So we had an open night last night Sounds good.

Speaker 2:

Very good, very good. We're really excited about this degree and, in addition, in terms of working with the GHE and its workforce planning, we have an advanced health practice degree coming up Again trying to. As you're probably aware, the GHA has quite a gap. If you will. A lot of consultants, they've got registrars, but there's a big gap between and in the UK and many other jurisdictions globally. Now you have more and more advanced practice nurses who are given some additional training on how to take bloods, how to order x-rays, etc. And they're the ones with the patient on a daily basis.

Speaker 2:

And the research shows very clearly that if you have advanced practice nurses who will do some of those fundamental things that a registrar might do, it frees up the registrar to do other things and at the same time, the patient gets better patient care because the nurse is there the whole time. Oh gosh, I think so-and-so needs a chest x-ray. Instead of oh gosh, we better find the registrar who's so busy or she's running off in other wards. You can get it done there and then. So again, it's working with that particular organization and we're also working on a slightly longer frame it will probably be next September working with currently talking with the police RGP, in terms of how we can assist in developing some form of policing, professional policing degree for them, both for new recruits and also current members of the force. All very exciting. Oh, we're working with defence as well. We're looking at, yes, so there's a lot of stuff going on.

Speaker 1:

There's a lot going on in the future. I'm really really conscious of time. Yes, so I've got to my last question, right now actually, and it's one that I ask all of my guests. Given where you are now and the experience in your current role, and looking towards the future, you've got a lot to achieve here at the university. What's that? One piece of advice that you wish you'd known sooner, or that you'd love to pass on?

Speaker 2:

Oh God. Well, I think probably I'd like to have had a um, you know, a magic ball to look at and predict that covid or wexit was coming, because I'm not sure that we would have done necessarily anything differently, because I think we managed it very well, as did walter in general, but it would have been nice to have that crystal ball and be able to say, yes, that's coming, and let's put in a few other things I think, think you me and all of our listeners as well.

Speaker 1:

Catherine, thank you for your time. I appreciate how busy you are, so thank you.

Speaker 2:

It's been a pleasure. Thank you, David.

Speaker 1:

And that's a wrap for this week's episode of the Gibraltar Business Podcast. Thank you to our guest Professor, catherine Baklida. Thank you, catherine, for saying yes after all these years. Thank you to the team at the GFSB, our sponsor, the Gibraltar International Bank, and to everyone who contributes to the project and keeps this podcast going from strength to strength. I hope you've enjoyed listening. Catch up on any episodes you've missed anytime you like. So it's a goodbye from me until next week. Until then, keep focused on your journey and reach your goals, whatever they are. See you very soon.

University of Gibraltar Leadership Discussion
University of Gibraltar's Economic Contribution
University Funding and AI Implementation