The FCO’s Director of Communications and former Prime Minister’s Spokesperson Helen Bower-Easton (CBE), meets with numerous representatives from the University as part of their regional outreach programme.

Exeter Students meet Foreign and Commonwealth Delegation

The University of Exeter welcomes a delegation from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office onto our Streatham Campus. 

On Monday 26th March, the University of Exeter welcomed a delegation from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) onto our Streatham Campus. The delegation, which was led by the FCO’s Director of Communications and former Prime Minister’s Spokesperson Helen Bower-Easton (CBE), met with numerous representatives from the University as part of their regional outreach programme.

As a part of the visit, the FCO delegation met with eighteen students from the College of Social Sciences and International Studies to gauge their views on some of the big questions facing UK foreign policy. Over the course of an hour-long discussion, students discussed fundamental questions such as why it matters that the UK is a major international player engaged and influential in the international arena. The FCO delegates also asked the students what long-term goals they thought the UK should be working towards, whilst exploring whether students felt there was a tension between the generations in terms of foreign policy priorities. The session ended with the delegation speaking to the students about career opportunities in the FCO, with delegates talking about the routes which could lead to influential positions within the organisation.

Olivia Knight, a student attendee at the session, commented; “This roundtable allowed students access to esteemed practitioners with remarkable careers in the FCO. The roundtable discussed student and speaker insights on UK-Russia relations, the balance between strategic interest and national values in foreign policy and the role of public opinion in shaping foreign affairs. I was left with an impression of how vital the FCO’s work is to Britain’s international status and the variety of FCO careers available.”

 Dr Martin Robson, a lecturer from Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute, who led the session, commented on the visit. “This was an excellent opportunity for SSIS students to engage in a dialogue with influential figures from the FCO on a range of foreign policy issues. We very much appreciate delegates from the FCO taking the time to engage with our students and I hope that the session will inspire some of the attendees to seriously explore this career path. Similarly, I expect our visitors will have gained a lot from listening to our students talk eloquently about what foreign policy issues matter to them.”

The student roundtable discussion was just one part of the FCO’s visit to Exeter. They also spoke to year nine children at St Peter’s Church of England School in Exeter, met with a number of Exeter academics to glean their expert views and perceptions on UK foreign policy, engaging with the FCO and how it can further help leverage international connections as well as what they see as priority for the UK’s agenda in an international field. The FCO also participated in a South West Stakeholder Roundtable to meet with a variety of organisations instrumental in helping develop business in the region.  Stakeholders alongside Chris Evans, Assistant Director for Innovation, Impact and Business (IIB) who led the session, conveyed the main challenges the South West business community face.  Discussions were very engaging and informed the FCO how foreign policy and wider government can help the region communicate and promote its sector strengths and assets to attract as well as connect with new international markets. Visits such as this allow the FCO better understand the views of regional stakeholders, to ensure that these are reflected in their future policy. 

Date: 21 March 2018

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