During my first week on the job in the international role for Microsoft Education, I had the opportunity to meet with a true leader and visionary in higher education, David Lammy. He is the Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property for the United Kingdom. He is most passionate about expanding access to higher education for all and becoming a world leader in e-learning.  We had the chance to talk about the state of education and higher education in the UK, and about the trends we see consistent across the world.

Like most countries, the UK has recognized the value of education and is investing in education as a way to fuel the local economy to help the country get out of its own recession. The notion of education helping to prepare its students for the workforce of tomorrow is also vibrant and strong as the UK is investing in science, technology, engineering, and math to stimulate students’ thinking and fuel new industries that will propel the prosperity of places like the UK. We hope to help the UK on the workforce challenge as demonstrated by the launch of the Britain Works program this week where we will partner to provide people access to IT skills that can help them find employment...500,000 people by 2012. It's a unique program to meet local needs, but it shares the same philosophy of Elevate America here in the US that I've blogged about before.

David and the UK also recognize the value and importance of a blended learning experience and the need of students’ individual learning needs. But they also recognize there’s a balance between the physical classroom experience and the online learning experience...It’s not an either/or approach. We both see a comprehensive look of how students learn, and how they learn in and around technology as a critical part of the discussion.

I am looking forward to partnering on a number of initiatives with the UK and seeing what becomes of the future of higher education in the country.