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Defending Academic Freedom: Interview with Dr Naif Bezwan

By Guest Blogger, on 11 April 2018

 By Miriam Matthiessen, UCL’s Cara Student Ambassador

Dr Naif Bezwan Dr Naif Bezwan is a scholar from Turkey currently at UCL as a fellow through the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara).

Founded in 1933 by Britain’s foremost academics and scientists to help refugee academics escape Nazi Germany, Cara assists those in immediate danger, those forced into exile, and many who choose to work on in their home countries despite serious risks. UCL has partnered with Cara since 2006.

Dr Naif Bezwan had been an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Mardin Artuklu in Turkey since January 2014, when one day in October 2016, he received the news that he had been indefinitely suspended from his post and all civil service by emergency decree.

This was due to an interview he had given to a Turkish newspaper, which related to core areas of his academic interest and expertise, including Turkey’s political and administrative system, accession to the European Union, and foreign policy.

In the interview, Naif stressed the danger of using military force at home and abroad to deal with the Kurdish question and democratic aspirations of citizens at large, through tackling an essentially domestic issue by military means and conducting cross-border military operations.

Only a couple of hours after its publication, he received an order from the university administration, in which his reflections were described as evidence of support for a “terrorist organisation” and “undermining national security”, and used as grounds for suspension. The dismissal was issued prior to the outcome of a disciplinary investigation.

Alleged links

Naif is one of a number of academics, teachers and civil servants from Turkey dismissed from their jobs in the aftermath of the failed coup in July 2016.

According to a UN Report, over 100,000 people were reportedly dismissed and suspended throughout Turkey from public or private sector jobs for suspected links with the coup organizers.  Over 40,000 staff were allegedly dismissed by the Ministry of Education, mostly teachers. This included some 10,000 teachers in South- East Turkey, over 90 percent of whom were serving in Kurdish-speaking municipalities.

Interview with Dr Naif Bezwan

This was not Naif’s first disciplinary investigation. The first one took place in February 2016 after he signed a ‘Petition for Peace’ together with 36 colleagues and a total of 1,128 academics, calling on the Turkish government to end military operations against its Kurdish citizens. Signatories of the petition were targeted by a campaign of abuse, violence, and death threats.

In many public speeches, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the petitioning academics of “treason”, “support for a terrorist organization” and of threatening “national security,” which promptly resulted in numerous investigations, suspensions and dismissals.

Naif said he sees a great risk in the increasingly authoritarian regime, which governs the country “essentially through extralegal means unbounded by rule of law and the most basic principles of a democratic and accountable government.”

Finding a fellowship

Naif left the country for the UK in November 2016 – just days before the passports of all of his colleagues, subject to the same decree-law as him, were revoked.

In early 2017 he was recommended to apply for a Cara fellowship, for which he was found eligible in February.

He was granted a full fellowship at the Department of Political Science at UCL where he has been working since June 2017, doing research on Turkey’s political and administrative system as well as issues of Kurdish Conflict resolution and authoritarianism.

Coming to the UK meant having a breathing space in comparison to his colleagues who were not able to leave the country in time, and are therefore prevented not only from taking public jobs but also from seeking opportunities abroad.

For this reason, Dr. Bezwan continues his scholarly and public engagements as far as he can while in the UK. He is involved in Academics for Peace UK, and together with colleagues, has established a charitable institution, the Centre for Democracy and Peace Research, which aims to provide funding to colleagues in need back home and beyond.

In Naif’s own words: “Living in a country without concern of being exposed to harm, unjust treatment and intimidation, having the possibility of living under decent human conditions, and working in a friendly, international and inspiring academic setting, as UCL is, is of immeasurable value.

In a very critical period of my individual and professional biography, the Cara fellowship provides me with an opportunity and essential basis to continue with my life and studies in dignity and safety. The value of this support, and the importance of the institution which has provided, and continues to provide, hundreds of scholars under risk with a dignified foundation for their personal and professional life, cannot be emphasized enough.”

Ask GEO: Dr Karen Edge 

By Sian Gardiner, on 27 March 2018

Karen is a Reader at UCL’s Institute of Education and GEO’s Pro-Vice-Provost International, alongside Professor Gudrun Moore. Here, she explains what her role entails and the value of job shares.

Tell us about your role in the GEO as Pro-Vice-Provost International (PVPI).

I job share the role of UCL’s Pro-Vice-Provost (International) with Professor Gudrun Moore, from the Institute of Child Health. Our core role is to lead and collaborate with UCL’s networks of Vice-Deans International and Regional Pro-Vice-Provosts.

We bring people together once a month for lunches to share information about what’s going on across UCL. We also serve an ambassadorial role and also act as Nicola [Brewer]’s deputy when needed.

That’s the formal part of our role – the informal role is being a bridge between the academic community and the professional services community. A lot of what we do relates to the translation of how a particular set of institutional policies will influence the academic community. I also try to make sure that we are very evidence based in our work and bring UCL research into our decision making and practice.

You’re an academic by trade – what led you to apply for the PVPI role?

I’m Canadian, I’ve worked and conducted research and consultancy for DFID [the Department for International Development], Action Aid and the British Council. I’ve worked in over 30 countries conducting research, so I’ve always had a strong commitment to working internationally. I’m also interested in what an institution can do to support academics interested in working in that way, with their partners overseas.

As a graduate student, I was hired as a consultant to help develop the international strategy for the Ontario Institute for Studies and Education at the University of Toronto, so I’d had a bit of experience in the international side. As Nicola and the GEO team were developing the Global Engagement Strategy, I had a vested interest in thinking about how it would sit within UCL and the Institute of Education. When Nicola pointed out that there was the possibility of the PVP role as a job share, it became incredibly attractive.

What are the benefits of job sharing the role?

I don’t think there are very many people who’d be willing to give up their entire academic practice to take on a role centrally. Sharing the role has meant that I could continue doing research and working with my doctoral students and serving the IOE, but also be an advocate for academics and provide a leadership function within the GEO.

Job shares are important because they open up opportunities to a range of different people. There’s great value within professional services of trying to work closely with academics. A job share, like we have, allows academics to work alongside professionals and contribute to the work. The role has allowed me to grow and develop a new sense of UCL from the GEO perspective.

What are you working on at the moment?

One of the projects I’m working on with Human Resources and other departments is developing a set of global leadership competencies, which will be a set of practices that will align very closely with UCL’s revised values and behaviours. They will signpost a core roster of skills and knowledge that faculty, staff and students should consider developing to assist them in their global working. We are planning to create a resource to show where training and development is already on offer and work to see where additional supports may be possible.

What’s your favourite part of working in the GEO?  

I think we have an amazing team. We recruit people from a lot of different backgrounds who bring different skills to the question of what we can do to support UCL staff and students in making the most of their current and future global engagements.

My most favourite part is when GEO actions make a difference to academics on the ground. That happens almost daily – whether that’s support with an MoU or making a connection in country. We’re always able to answer a question and if we can’t, we can push them towards someone who can.

Lastly, with International Women’s Day this month, could you share your top piece of career advice for women?

I think the best advice is to ask people if they’re comfortable “ordering off the menu”. One of the things I noticed moving to England was that people are less inclined to do this: when you go to a restaurant you take what’s there, and if something’s wrong you may hesitate to send it back. Globally, the approach to ordering is completely different.

So my career advice to a lot of women is to ask yourself if you’re comfortable ordering off the menu, and if something’s not right, are you willing to say it’s not right? And if something’s not as it should be, are you willing to put in the effort to make it better? I think those are the two things that can accelerate your career.

Resilience, beauty and delicious food: My impressions of Fukushima, Japan

By Guest Blogger, on 23 March 2018

Students on the Fukushima visit in March 2018By Connor Galbraith

I had to double take – tucked away near the bottom of the weekly UCL Student Union newsletter was a call for applicants for a funded week-long trip to Japan, to research and engage with the community recovering from the 2011 tsunami in Fukushima.

I’d visited Japan twice before several years ago as a tourist, and I couldn’t believe my luck that here was an opportunity to visit again in a more, shall we say, ‘useful’ capacity, and help strengthen the already significant ties between UCL and Japan.

After a quick interview in December 2017, I was delighted to be selected by the UCL Global Engagement Office and Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma, a native of Fukushima, who would act as our group leader. Less than a month later, I was on a plane bound for Tokyo – funny things can happen when you actually read your emails!

Intensely sobering

Reaching Haneda airport just outside the city, I joined other Masters and PhD students from the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, as well as students from the UCL Academy. We met a government official from the Fukushima prefectural government, who accompanied us on the four-hour coach trip to the prefecture.

He explained that during the week we would be visiting areas of the Fukushima coastline most severely affected by the 2011 tsunami, and other regions the Fukushima Tourism Association believed would interest international tourists.

We embraced every aspect of the trip – from the relaxing ‘onsen’ (traditional Japanese spa) to the delicious food and drink including ramen, tempura and sake.

This was my third visit to Japan and I have a decent grasp of the language, but I had only a limited knowledge of Fukushima beyond the media headlines that I had read back in 2011 when the world learned about the deadly tsunami.

Affected by a ‘triple disaster’, Fukushima was struck on 11 March 2011 by an earthquake, the resulting tidal wave, and an explosion on the site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor.

Seven years have passed since the disaster, but I was still unprepared for what I saw. Pictures and videos in the media cannot do justice to the scale of the impact that day had, especially on the local residents. Moving through the evacuated areas was intensely sobering.

All around us, buildings had been ripped apart by the strength of the earthquake. In a town where the evacuation order is yet to be lifted, I saw through a house with the walls ripped off – you could still see a shelving unit in the hall with the family’s shoes on it, unchanged from seven years ago when they were forced to evacuate.

Environmental and social challenges 

On the trip we learned about the environmental and social challenges the people of Fukushima are facing, such as the underpopulated and abandoned areas of formerly thriving towns. Since then, thorough decontamination efforts have taken place to open the roads back up to the public, and strict food monitoring policies have been introduced to address the unfounded rumours of Fukushima’s produce remaining tainted by the nuclear fallout. An official at the nuclear plant in Fukushima

On the penultimate day, having worked until sunrise the night before to have it ready, I gave a speech in both English and Japanese to local businessmen, press, and government officials at our leaving reception.

It was so important for me to truly convey how moving each and every person involved in the reconstruction effort’s courage and determination to rebuild their lives was to all of us, and I felt doing so in their own language was the least I could do.

I spoke about how the whole community had inspired us with their strength, kindness and sense of humour. A strong local community is essential to disaster management and revitalisation, and we left with no doubt about the future of Fukushima.

Incredible resilience

Since the disaster, Fukushima has received a lot of international attention, focusing mainly on the problems the region is facing; this attention will only increase now Japan is hosting the Olympics in 2020, and I hope that the international press will start to cover the Fukushima that I witnessed across my five days.

The world should know about the delicious food, the beautiful scenery, and, most of all, the world should learn about the incredible resilience of Fukushima’s people as they respond to the disaster with a courage and vigour that should inspire us all.

Japan is more than just Tokyo; visit Fukushima, the prefecture will surprise you.

International Women’s Day: How gender equal is UCL’s student body?

By Sian Gardiner, on 9 March 2018

On 6 February 1918, the UK’s Representation of the People Act extended the right to vote to almost all men, plus women who were over the age of 30 and able to meet minimum property qualifications. Ten months later, on 14 December 1918, 8.5 million women were able to vote for the first time.

Going back a further 40 years, in 1878, UCL became one of the first universities in England to admit women on equal terms with men.

This year, to mark these milestones in the march towards equality, UCL has been hosting a series of events and exhibitions. And here at the GEO, we thought it presented a great time to take stock of the progress we’ve made, and analyse in a little more detail just how well UCL is doing in terms of equality – as well as the higher education world more generally.

Steady increase in female students

Taking a look at the gender data graph provided by GEO’s Strategic Data Manager Alejandro Moreno and pictured below, it’s clear that UCL admits more women than men at both post- and undergraduate level.

Since 2007, the overall figure has grown steadily, moving from a 52% female-heavy student population up to 58% in the current academic year.

UCL gender data graph

While there are of course variations from faculty to faculty, the overall number of women studying at UCL is at its highest rate among postgraduate students. In 2017-18, for example, the percentage of female postgrad students is as high as 62%.

Record highs of women at university

The dominance of women at UCL is echoed across the wider UK higher education world. In 2017, record numbers of women in the UK went to university. According to a report in The Independent, the latest figures show that teenage girls are now over a third more likely to go to university than boys.

Data collected shortly before the current academic year showed that across the UK, 27.3% of all young men were expected to go to university this year, compared with 37.1 per cent of young women.

Clearly, the UK has come a long way since UCL first admitted women on equal terms with men. According to the BBC, the latest official figures show 55% of women entering higher education by the age of 30, compared with 43% of men.

Debate rages over the reasons behind this new high in the proportion of women in higher education, with everything from an exam system based on coursework to the underachievement of white working class boys suggested as factors. But taking a broad look at the higher education world indicates that the gender gap can’t simply be put down to a question of economics.

World gender data graph

In fact, more data collection from Alejandro shows that small island developing states are the most likely to see a higher proportion of women in HE (58.8%) in the world, followed by developed countries at 54.6%.

Room for progress

Of course, there is still room for progress. Recent reports show that despite the dominance of women among student bodies, there are still only 27 women vice chancellors in the UK (six in the Russell Group), and only 24% of professors are women.

In addition, as UCL’s Vice-Provost International and Gender Equality Champion Nicola Brewer commented recently in her speech, ‘In praise of difficult women’: “I’m aware that it’s not always a binary choice. And increasingly I’m trying to think about equality through a more intersectional lens.”

Echoing this sentiment and speaking following the launch of a diversity report from the Royal Society of Chemistry last month, Lindsay Harding, senior lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, noted that there’s a fundamental issue with the collection of gender data.

“Gender data has a big limitation in that it’s collected in a binary way,” she said. “Recent surveys show that 0.4% of the UK population don’t identify with binary gender. We need to look at how we gather gender data to be more inclusive.”

Speaking to UCL’s global student body on International Women’s Day 2018

By Sian Gardiner, on 8 March 2018

To celebrate International Women’s Day, this month the GEO spoke to women from across UCL’s student population to find out what they make of studying at London’s Global University.

See the original series on Instagram: @UCL_Global.

Carly, MA Archaeology

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia in the US, Carly says: “Before I came to UCL I went to Princeton which is quite cut off from things in New Jersey, and I much prefer studying here – there’s just so much happening.

“I’m from Atlanta which is also a big city, but one of my favourite things about London is the markets: Borough, Spitalfields, Maltby Street… I also live right by Regents Park, so I can walk to class in 20 minutes.”

Vandita, MA Computer Graphics, Vision and Imaging

Originally from Delhi, India, Vandita says: “I came to London back in September. I chose UCL because of the faculty of Computer Science: I’d heard a lot about the facilities here; the labs and the teachers.

“I love London! In the past few years Delhi hasn’t been the safest place for women, but here I have a lot of freedom of movement. I can come here at 11 at night and stay in the grad hub listening to music and doing my work and I love that freedom so much. I love being able to move around without having to worry too much about my safety.

“I feel like London is a global city. You meet people from all over the place: in my class I have friends from China, from Ghana, from Europe. It really is global! If I get a chance I’d love to stay.”

Risa, third year Anthropology

Risa is now in her third year of Anthropology. “This is my third year in London. Before moving to London I lived in Jakarta, because my parents are diplomats.

“I knew I wanted to study either in the UK or the States and I chose UCL because it has a big name, and for Anthropology it’s one of the leading departments.

“I really like London – other than the weather! I love that there are so many things to do here; you’re never bored.”

Saskia, third year Biomedical Science

Saskia is originally from Germany, near Frankfurt. “I chose London first, and then UCL! I just love to be in an international setting; it’s a great way to meet different people. I live with two French people and most of the people on my course are international.

“When I graduate I’m going to take a year off to do some internships and hopefully combine it with some travelling. My first internship is in Cyprus and I’d like to go to Barcelona. In Cyprus, I’m going to be working for a stem cell bank; they collect the umbilical cords from all over the world and extract culture the stem cells.”

Explaining her subject choice, Saskia said: “I was always into biology. I work in a lab where there are almost only women. My supervisor is a woman too.”

She also joked, “The last lab that I worked in had an internship at the Cancer Institute and there were only one or two men working there – I’ve been lucky!”

Afikah, second year Medicine

Asked what she makes of UCL so far, second year Medicine student Afikah says: “Well, it’s in London and I don’t think there’s a better city! It’s also one of the best places to study Medicine. The research here is innovative and beyond anywhere else – especially in neuroscience, which is an area I’m really interested in.

“I keep changing what I want to specialise in. In sixth form it was paediatrics. In my next year I’ll be intercalating and I’ve chosen oncology, so I don’t know what I’ll end up doing.

“I live in North West London. I love the multiculturalism in London. Being a person of colour, it’s so nice seeing other people from different ethnic backgrounds and being able to connect with them. The diversity is absolutely amazing.

“You can do anything you want here; everything is around. I’d love to travel – that’s something I’m really interested in – but London’s where it’s at!”

Pauline, MA Financial Mathematics

“I did my undergrad in France, close to Paris, at an engineering school called Centrale Supelec,” says Pauline. “There’s a joint diploma between my school and UCL and so instead of going back to my school for the last year, I decided to come to UCL.

“I’ve lived in London since September. What I like about UCL is how huge it is! It’s like a campus within the city. You always have loads of students all around and there’s such diversity. I love the fact that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want; it’s completely different to France, which is a lot stricter. Here I like that I have more time to study by myself.

“I’d like to start my career in London and then eventually move back to Paris. In the industry I work in, finance, it’s moving a lot, and there are lots of opportunities here.”

By 2030, will universities ‘walk fast and alone – or walk far and together’?

By Nicola M Brewer, on 23 February 2018

Nicola Brewer, UCL’s Vice-Provost International, provided this guest blog for Wonkhe’s HE Futures series. It was originally published here.

People walking. Image: Magdalena Roeseler / Flickr

People walking. Image: Magdalena Roeseler / Flickr

If Nelson Mandela was right – and I firmly believe he was – education is “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. So, what should higher education leaders do for the best when both the public benefit of universities and the benefits of globalisation are disputed?

First off, we need to continue to create and share knowledge, which is fundamentally what universities do. Taking that knowledge and putting it to work in the world, in a way that addresses pressing local, national or global problems, is how universities bring benefit to society. Increasingly, those problems are global, and intensely complex. No single country, institution – no matter how prestigious – or discipline, can tackle these challenges alone.

To deal with issues such as climate change; food, water and energy security; sustainable cities, we need diversity and excellence. Some people see a tension between the two. I don’t. Instead I see a risk in defining excellence too narrowly, only recognising it in people or careers that look like yours or those you already know and respect. Bringing together diverse perspectives, through combining different disciplines and experiences, accelerates the process of discovery. And bringing together experts, irrespective of where they are in the world, means that the very best minds can be focussed on finding the solutions we all need.

Global issues, global solutions

Where will we find those people? The UN estimates that there will be a small decline in the population of Europe between 2015 and 2030 (738m to 734m). Over the same period, the population of Asia will increase by 12% (4.4bn to 4.9bn) and the population of Africa by 42% (1.19bn to 1.68bn). Alongside those big demographic changes, you need to consider other trends, like the ‘massification’ of higher education: UCL’s Centre for Global Higher Education calculates that, in Europe, participation in tertiary education (mostly degree programmes) rose from 50% in 2000 to 75% in 2014. If you believe that talent is evenly distributed across populations, you’ll be missing out on huge potential pools of talent if you don’t look far and wide for it.

In a world where inter-connectedness is no longer a given and global citizenship no longer automatically seen as a positive, universities should seek out ways to make and strengthen alliances, supporting collaboration between individual academics and faculties as well as at institutional level. At UCL, we do this through what we call ‘global partnerships of equivalence’, which are at the heart of our Global Engagement Strategy.

What we mean by a partnership of equivalence is an alliance based on mutual trust and respect, from which both sides derive value. It’s reciprocal, but not in a quid pro quo kind of way. UCL has produced 29 Nobel prize-winners. We are immensely proud of all of them. But we also recognise that we can still learn as much as we can teach. We know we have to understand what it’s like to walk in other people’s shoes, to learn from the paths they’ve travelled and where they’re heading to.

It’s relatively easy to announce the beginning of a partnership. True partnerships of equivalence are hard to create. I know this from my time leading global engagement at UCL, and a long career as a diplomat. They’re hard, partly for the same reasons all meaningful relationships are hard: you have to find the right one (or ones) for you; you have to work at them; and they take a lot of time as well as intellectual and emotional effort to maintain, not least because they involve confronting history not written by the so-called winners.

Supporting everyone

This idea of mutual benefit and universities as global team players is something that Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, articulates really clearly. He says that universities should act “in a way that supports the global academy of commons rather than simply advancing the individual aspirations of institutions”. The creation and sharing of knowledge is quintessentially international. That makes it, or should make it, a shared mission. So, we should enter into partnership with a generous spirit as well as open minds. That is what gives us the best chance of creating equal partnerships in what is still a very unequal world.

At UCL, we sum up our desire to do this in one of five drivers for our global engagement: ‘Increasing global independent research capability’. We deliberately avoid the (usually unintentionally) patronising term ‘capacity building’. I have yet to meet anyone who asks to have their capacity built. Generosity of spirit requires more than a dash of humility: you never know what you can learn if you’re open to it. And if you aren’t, the chances are that your supposed partner won’t be in the right frame of mind either. One tip, which I learned as a diplomat, is to start a conversation from where the other person is, not where you want it to go. That way, you’re more likely to make a genuine connection. Luckily, academics are fantastic at that. UCL academics, I quickly learned, are the best guides to fellow experts and enthusiasts in their field, of whatever nationality, gender, background or discipline.

The emphasis on excellence and diversity is critical. I haven’t done a literature review of research into the so-called ‘wisdom of crowds’, though I am intrigued by the work of Daniel C Richardson’s Eye Think Lab at UCL and the phenomenon of social media bubbles that reinforce bias rather than create wisdom. But this is where there is an important place for experts and scholarship, to focus on an issue, explore it carefully from as many perspectives as possible and present peer-reviewed results. As Michael Grubb wrote, “science is slow”. So is the creation of a real partnership. At UCL, our aim is to develop international partnerships that last at least 10 years, and deliver global impact over that timescale. Not a headline for tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper.

Real partnership

What our Global Engagement Strategy aims to do is to make sure we first look as far and wide as possible for partners, starting from our existing collaborations with individual academics world-wide, and then focus our cross-institutional support on a set of strategic partnerships to have maximum impact.

One of the ways we’re searching widely is through financial and practical support for the Council for At Risk Academics (cara). Cara works to enable at risk academics, many of whom are desperate and in immediate danger, to continue their work as researchers and educators. You only have to hear the story of one of our cara Masters scholars, whom we were able to bring to UCL from Syria with a fee waiver and full scholarship, to understand the impact of their work. He was studying in Syria when, all of a sudden, he was thrown off his course and fired from his job. He was imprisoned and tortured. It took his father six months to get him released. He describes the opportunity to come to UCL as “life-saving in the literal sense”.

Universities have a vital role to play in maintaining global inter-connectedness and belief in its value. The best way to play that role is to create and share knowledge through international partnerships. And the best way to create lasting global partnerships is to make sure they are based on mutual trust and respect. Easy to say, harder to do.

More universities are starting to follow this path. As UCL was developing its Global Engagement Strategy in 2014, we reviewed the international strategies of 55 universities. One of the top three common factors was solving global problems through research partnerships. And there is growing use of the term ‘global engagement’ rather than ‘internationalisation’ (with its implied narrow focus on recruitment of international staff and students). I predict that by 2030, it will be more common for research intensive universities to profile their strategic global partnerships than their overseas campuses. The proof of the partnership concept will be to demonstrate, not the number of them, but their positive global impact. After careful consultation, UCL is placing its global bet on partnership as a path to global impact.

As the African proverb goes, ‘if you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together’.

Global Health 50/50 report launch set for International Women’s Day

By Sian Gardiner, on 2 February 2018

Global health 50 50This International Women’s Day, the UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health will launch the inaugural report of Global Health 50/50 at UCL.

The launch event, in collaboration with UNAIDS, will take place on 8 March at UCL’s Kennedy Lecture Theatre in London, from 18.30-19.45.

Hosted by UCL’s Vice-Provost (International) Dame Nicola Brewer, the event will showcase key findings from the Global Health 50/50 initiative, which aims to promote gender equality in global health. The first report of its kind, it will take an in-depth look at the gender policies and practices of the world’s most influential global health organisations.

140 organisations

The extensive report takes a unique, 360 degree approach to the topic, analysing both the gender-responsiveness of external programmes and operations, as well as the internal workplace policies and practices of over 140 organisations.

Global Health 50/50 will also look at the extent to which organisations commit and take action to promote gender equality, help identify where change is needed and share examples of best practice for effecting this.

Driving action and accountability

The event next month will feature an interactive panel with speakers including Jocalyn Clark, Executive Editor of medical journal The Lancet, and Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, with discussions set to cover the steps needed to advance gender equality in global health.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Sarah Hawkes, Professor of Global Public Health, said, “Global Health 50/50 is much more than just a report.

“Global Health 50/50 is a policy initiative that will help drive action and accountability for gender across global health through advocacy based on evidence, transparency for accountability, and a core belief that progress is both possible and necessary.”

Later this month, Professor Hawkes is also set to join Difficult Dialogues 2018, a three-day event in Goa which will see academics from UCL’s Institute of Global Health join global media, policymakers and practitioners to address challenges to gender equality in India and beyond.

Exploring UCL’s collaborations with Canada

By Sian Gardiner, on 29 January 2018

This month saw UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur host a University of Toronto (UofT) delegation at UCL’s Bloomsbury campus.

UofT President Professor Meric Gertler joined a roundtable where representatives from both universities discussed the joint funding projects launched in November 2017, along with the potential for future health science collaborations.

But how else is UCL collaborating with the University of Toronto – and Canada more widely?

Here, we take a look at the existing connections.

UofT emerges as top research partner

Looking at data for the papers published in the past five years with less than five authors (according to InCites), along with how many times they’ve been cited, the University of Toronto is UCL’s closest collaborator, by a clear margin.

UCL’s next highest collaborator in the country is University of British Colombia, followed by McGill University.

High volume of medical research collaboration

Taking a more in-depth look at the collaborations between UCL and UofT reveals that life and medical science is by far the most common area of shared research.

For example, UCL and UofT collaborated on 17 papers on clinical neurology, 15 on neurosciences, 13 on paediatrics and nine on surgery.

UofT students at UCL

The figures for 2016/17 suggest that Canadians are most commonly heading to UCL for post graduate study, and the University of Toronto is no exception. In the graph below, you can see the distribution of UofT students across UCL faculties.

Subjects that UofT undergrads study at UCL

The table below shows the number of applications from UofT undergraduates for postgraduate study at UCL. It demonstrates a high interest in social and historical sciences (22% of applications), followed by built environment (20%) and engineering (19%).

 

Number of applications from UofT undergraduates for postgraduate study at UCL

Canadian students in the UK

Taking a wider view and looking at the enrolment figures from 2011/12 through to 2015/16 across all UK universities, it’s clear that the most popular subject for Canadian students choosing to study in the UK is law, followed by social studies and medicine – a contrast to the popular subjects at UCL previously highlighted.

Canadian subject choices across the UK

Contrary to the UK as a whole, for instance, law makes up just 6% of Canadian students’ subject choices at UCL.

 Steady growth in students from Canada

Canadian students who were enrolled from 2011/12 through to 2015/16 in the UK’s Russell Group Universities

Finally, looking at the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Canadian students who were enrolled from 2011/12 through to 2015/16 in the UK’s Russell Group Universities, it’s clear that while other universities within the group have seen a decline in Canadian applications, there has been a steady increase in students coming from Canada to UCL in recent years – a trend that we hope will continue for many years to come.

Explore the Global Engagement Office (GEO)’s interactive dashboard to see more of UCL’s collaborations across the world.

For more information on UCL’s activity in North America, visit the GEO web pages.

Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma recognised for Japan-UK academic co-operation

By Sian Gardiner, on 26 January 2018

Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma and Japan AmbassadorUCL’s Japan ambassador Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma has been awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation for his contribution to Japan-UK academic and educational relations.

Earlier this month, Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka presented Ohnuma, Professor at the Institute of Ophthalmology, with the award at a ceremony at the Embassy of Japan in London.

In addition to his work as Director of the PhD programme of the Sensory System, Technology and Therapies, Professor Ohnuma has worked over many years to strengthen UCL’s ties with Japan.

Historic links

Professor Ohnuma’s collaborative work includes the organisation of numerous important events. In 2013, he helped to organise celebrations involving various Japanese organisations to mark the 150th anniversary of UK-Japan academic collaboration, when five Japanese samurai – known as the ‘Choshu Five’ – first came to study at UCL.

Speaking after receiving his award, Professor Ohnuma said, “UCL has an amazing history with Japan, which includes the Choshu-Five and Satsuma-19.

“But in my role as UCL’s Japan ambassador and through active interaction with Japanese universities, high schools, and industries, I want to increase the status of UCL in Japan, improving recognition and the number of Japanese students studying here.”

Improving UK-Japan relations

In 2014, Ohnuma played an important part in the ‘Japan-UK Universities Conference for Collaboration in Research and Education,’ co-hosted by UCL and the Embassy of Japan in the UK.

Attended by 14 Japanese universities, 16 UK universities and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, the conference encouraged further collaboration for not only UCL but many universities in both the UK and Japan.

A champion of future talent, Professor Ohnuma has also worked to encourage mutual understanding between young people in Japan and the UK. In 2015, he established the UCL-Japan Youth Challenge programme to promote interaction between students in both countries.

Hosted by many organisations in the UK, it has since been held annually, with around 100 students from both countries involved.

Contributions to Fukushima

Professor Ohnuma has also made significant contributions to his home prefecture, Fukushima, which was badly affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster. On top of supporting reconstruction efforts in the area, he played a key role in arranging a Memorandum of Understanding between UCL and the Fukushima prefectural government, and supported UCL students’ recent visit to the region.

Of the visit he said, “This month I visited Fukushima – where the East Japan Disaster inflicted huge damage six years ago – with 10 UCL and UCL Academy students, to understand the current status of Fukushima and encourage young generations in the area.”

At last week’s ceremony, Ambassador Tsuruoka congratulated Professor Ohnuma on his significant contribution to UK-Japan relations. Commenting on his award, Ohnuma said, “It is a great honour for me to receive this award from the Japanese Government.”

Ask GEO: Lizzy Deacon, Senior Partnership Manager (East Asia)

By Sian Gardiner, on 10 January 2018

Lizzy Deacon, Senior Partnerships Manager in East AsiaCould you give a brief overview of your role and the activity in your region?

I’m the Senior Partnership Manager for East Asia and I’ve been in the role for nearly six months.

I’m responsible for implementing UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy in the region, which involves facilitating our partnerships of equivalence, principally with Peking University (PKU). We have several other important partnerships in East Asia, including with Osaka University in Japan.

Part of my role involves nurturing these partnerships, which includes organising bilateral delegation visits and monitoring the agreements made in our MOUs [memorandums of understanding]. So far I’ve already been on two delegation visits led by the Provost – one to Japan and one to China – and I got married in between the two, so it’s been rather a baptism of fire!

What led you to the role?

I studied Chinese with International Relations at Durham and SOAS, and was always keen to work in an environment that made use of my knowledge of the country and the language. I lived in China for a year as part of my degree before working at Oxford University in international programmes/partnerships for eight years, followed by Queen Mary University, where I managed a large joint programme with a university in China. When I saw this job come up I was really excited because it gave me the opportunity to move into a more strategic role.

You went on the Provost’s trip to China late last year. How did it go?

It was hugely successful. The focus of the visit was a trip to PKU. We visited three of the key schools at PKU with whom we have strong collaborations (the School for Chinese as a Second Language, the National School of Development and the Yenching Academy). We also had a Presidential-level meeting at which we signed a memo which details the main strands of our collaboration with PKU, and signed the agreement for a new dual MA programme in Health and Humanity.

We also visited Hanban, where the Provost gave a very well-received speech about the UCL IoE Confucius Institute, and we met with the head of the British Council in China and the British Ambassador. In addition, the Provost presided over UCL’s first ever graduation celebration for Chinese graduands and their families in China.

What was your personal highlight of the trip?

Probably building a relationship with my counterpart at PKU: I think it will really help the relationship to flourish. Also, attending (and salsa dancing at) the Beijing Alumni Ball, together with the whole team, including the Provost.

How can academics find out more about UCL activity in the region?

We have some region-specific funding schemes, both with the university of Hong Kong (the strategic partnership fund around Grand Challenges themes, led by OVPR) and we also have a PKU strategic partner seed funding scheme, which is about to reopen. You can find all of the information about this on the GEO web pages.

I’m also really keen to get out there and meet academics who have significant collaborations in the region. If they need information about a specific partner university or want to know whether or not there’s an existing collaboration with a university in their region, please get in touch with me! All UCL staff who are interested in the East Asia Region are also welcome to join the regional network.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?

One of my priorities for 2018 is following up on the momentum generated by our successful Japan visit. It’s really exciting that our partnerships there are moving forward at such a pace and I’m looking forward to working with our partners to further deepen our collaborations.