The Government’s stance on Hong Kong, Russia, Israel and the future of the European Union were among the topics up for discussion during an event at Plymouth University.
International Relations students and academics were given the inside track on the nation’s foreign policy during an audience with Government minister, the Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP.
Mr Swire, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, spoke about a range of issues, and was then asked how the coalition government has tackled a number of global challenges.
Among the other issues discussed were Britain’s relations with Cuba, the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the Government’s stance on narco-terrorism and cybersecurity, and cross-party relations within the Coalition Government.
Speaking to students during the Q+A session Mr Swire, the Conservative MP for East Devon, said:
“As a foreign office minister you have to be fully appraised of what is going on everywhere in the world. The world is a pretty dangerous place at the moment, and it is very interesting to talk to students, as I have never known the international situation to be so changing and challenging. When you spend such a large amount of time travelling the world, talking to students in this way can also give you a reality check on the issues of interest to young people.”
The visit was one of many being planned by the University’s School of Government to give students the chance to learn about policy and decision-making from senior practitioners.
This is the second such event this month, following a visit by diplomats from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Canadian High Commission.
Plymouth University’s School of Government was set up to examine public and social policy problems and promote research into solutions.
Dr Jamie Gaskarth, Associate Professor in International Relations, said:
“Our students analyse foreign policy as part of their International Relations degree, and having the chance to quiz a senior foreign policymaker on what they do is a perfect teaching tool. British foreign policy is forever in the headlines at the moment, and enabling students to question the minister on our relations with Europe, drugs policy, tackling ISIS and the rise of China and India is in invaluable way of bringing those issues to life.”