British ambassador Nicholas Stewart Archer visited the University of Pardubice for the second time this past year. He met with the management of the University of Pardubice at the end of February, and discussed education and Brexit with students in Pardubice.
Did you spend a part of your studies abroad? …at another university? What are the benefits of such a student exchange?
Well I never went to another university. I did a couple of language breaks in Berlin as I was doing German as part of my degree course. The benefit, what is completely eye opening, is the everyday thigs that people do and everything you take for granted. For example, as being cool, you suddenly discover, is not seen as that cool for other people and it is always good to know.
What are the crucial skills an ambassador should have?
Number one skill is listening and number two skill is being able and willing to communicate in a way that people understand. The worst are ambassadors who think they are talking to fellow professionals all the time. You have to communicate with people in a language that makes it real for them. So I try.
How will education change? Do you think it is better to study a narrowly focused field of study or develop more general skills for the future?
What I see is a divergence. People like me who have very general education will still be required because if Europe has future as a centre of creativity, that is what machines cannot do. To some degree also as a centre of inspirational leadership and you do not need narrow skills for that. On the other hand what you see in any technical area of course is the fact that it is becoming sharper and sharper and that is fantastic as well. I suspect that pluralization will continue.
What are the questions and concerns students most frequently ask regarding Brexit?
Their concern is entirely about certainty. I think Czech students are very flegmatic. They will do what they need to do. I think people still see that the higher education in Britain has a particular value. What I want be able to do is give them as much certainty as possible about the arrangements because whenever you go through time of change of life whether it is Brexit or whether it is moving a house, there is a short period of uncertainty which has to get us through to the new predictability that we will get to.