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First UCL Laidlaw Scholars research Brexit negotiations

By uclqjle, on 25 July 2017

In 2017 UCL is running its first Laidlaw Scholarship Programme, offering 25 fully-funded scholarships to first-year undergraduates.

The programme aims to create the leaders of the future through a mix of training and intensive summer research periods, where scholars work closely with UCL academics on questions of global significance.

Among the first cohort of Laidlaw Scholars at UCL are Anton Gromoczki and Jose Feio, who share in this video how they are contributing to the UCL European Institute’s research into Brexit negotiations.

Filmed and edited by UCL graduate Jason Lewis.

Jose (BASc Arts and Sciences) and Anton (BSc Philosophy, Politics & Economics) both chose to work on Brexit in light of its significance to the future of Europe and on the potential insights to be garnered from the nature of the negotiations.

Anton described Brexit as ‘a process that defines relationships between countries in Europe for the next generations’.

He added: “My opportunity to study in the UK was connected to being an EU citizen, so I feel there’s a personal aspect to this.”

Describing his experience so far at the European Institute, Jose said: “It is an incredible opportunity to look at research and to know what it is to do research in academia. We have a shared office with high-ranked academics. I think this is very beneficial for us to gain skills if we want to go into research, which is a possibility for me.”

Anton added: “I have learned so much about how research is conducted, what are the good practices – it has been very enjoyable. My supervisors are very knowledgeable and I’m looking forward for the next weeks.”

As part of the leadership component of the programme, the scholars have already been involved in leadership workshops which will be ongoing for the next three years.

All Laidlaw Scholars are also expected to participate in the UCL Global Citizenship Programme, in line with the university’s commitment to cultivating its global outlook in order to offer students the best preparation for global lives and careers.

New research into effects of Brexit on UK universities

By Sophie Vinter, on 19 April 2017

The Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), based at UCL, has been awarded funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a research project that will investigate the implications, implementation and consequences of Brexit for UK higher education institutions.

The funding will run from 1 May 2017 to 31 October 2018 and is part of the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe initiative, which supports research into the relationship between the UK and the European Union (EU).

A research partnership of international universities, CGHE is the largest research centre in the world and specifically focuses on higher education and its future development.

The project will use empirical data to identify and better understand the challenges faced by the higher education sector, looking at the implications of Brexit not simply in terms of the inner life of institutions but in the context of their broader relationships with local, national and European communities. It will also consider the broader impacts of Brexit for higher education in UK and Europe.

The initiative will be led by CGHE Director Professor Simon Marginson from the UCL Institute of Education, with CGHE Deputy Director William Locke from the UCL Institute of Education and Dr Vassiliki Papatsiba from the University of Sheffield as Co-Investigators.

Professor Marginson said: “Brexit, in whatever form it takes, will require UK universities to make rapid, well-judged adjustments while building new relations in Europe and beyond. The high level of uncertainty about the options for policy and strategy is a crucial aspect of the Brexit challenge. Responding to that uncertainty, and the multiple options, requires exceptional agility and highly functional internal systems that integrate governance, management and academic units.

“The impact of this research will be felt during the project as it will when the project’s findings are completed. Project events during the research will bring together the case study universities and others in the sector, providing a platform for exploring scenarios, alternatives and resources and highlighting the ways forward.”

Read the full article on the CGHE website.


Ask the UCL European Institute: Oliver Patel

By uclqjle, on 3 April 2017

Oli-patel-profile_imageOliver is a Research Coordinator at the UCL European Institute. He tells us more about his work and the Institute’s latest projects, including the recently launched UCL Brexit Hub.

Tell us more about UCL European institute and your role there

The European Institute is UCL’s hub for research, collaboration and information on Europe and the European Union. We facilitate and promote academic work on Europe by connecting researchers across UCL and by commissioning reports, articles and podcasts. We also organise events and roundtables, for both public and policy audiences.

The European Institute was recently announced as a Jean Monnet Centre for Excellence, could you elaborate on what this means?

The European Institute has been designated a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence by the European Commission in recognition of our reputation as a facilitator of high-quality research and information on the EU. The prestigious award includes a three-year grant from the Commission aimed at encouraging excellence in teaching and research within the field of EU studies. An example of a project we’ll be facilitating is LGBTQ migration and asylum in Europe.

What’re you working on at the moment?

Building the UCL Brexit Hub has been my main project for the past few months. I started off by mapping all of the academics at UCL who work on relevant subjects and then finding all the content they’ve produced. Now that the site has been launched, I’m sure I’ll find some other Brexit-related things to keep me busy, such as managing the UCL Brexit Blog.

What is the UCL Brexit Hub?

The UCL Brexit Hub is UCL’s portal for research, academic content and expertise on all things Brexit. It is an online portal which features all of the Brexit-related content produced by UCL academics, including reports, blogs and videos. It is regularly updated with new content and serves as a comprehensive resource for journalists, policymakers, academics and all others wanting to learn more about Brexit!


Contact Oliver on:


Ask GEO: Rachel Corcoran, Programme Manager

By Sophie Vinter, on 22 September 2016

Rachel Corcoran, Programme ManagerRachel is GEO’s Programme Manager. We asked her to tell us more about her role and the recently launched Global Engagement Funds.

What is your role in GEO?

UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy launched in May last year – it’s an ambitious strategy which sets out a number of objectives: from ramping up the university’s collaborations with institutions abroad, to increasing student mobility and raising UCL’s global profile, to name a few.

As with any strategy, it’s all well and good deciding what you want to achieve, but the more difficult part is in the delivery. In UCL’s case, my office, the GEO, has a team dedicated to partnership development, with much of the other activity actually delivered by lots of other departments across the university – a ‘hub and spoke’ model (see image below), with GEO as the ‘hub’.

As Programme Manager, my role is to be a central point of oversight – to plan, monitor and evaluate success, ensuring that progress against objectives across UCL is captured in one place, identifying areas of overlap between different initiatives and supporting delivery offices where needed.

One part of the strategy which I specifically work on is managing the funding to academics to develop their overseas collaborations – recently I was pleased to launch the second year of the Global Engagement Funds.

The 'Hub and Spoke' model for delivering UCL's Global Engagement StrategyWhat are the Global Engagement Funds for?

Global Engagement Funds cover the costs associated with UCL academics collaborating with higher education institutions, organisations or companies abroad.  The aim is to facilitate activity for which there might not be another funding source, but which could be the start of an exciting new initiative.

There were some fascinating projects last year – I remember there was one from Archaeology, involving a researcher partnering with a Dutch NGO to tackle the black market in looted antiquities from Iraq and Syria, through jointly building a database of such objects. Or the lecturer from the Institute for Global Health who funded travel to Kigali to work with the University of Rwanda on the prevention of gender-based violence – including a joint seminar, meetings with key individuals, and visits to potential field sites, with a view to writing a grant proposal.

I’m not part of the decision-making though – the panels are led by Vice-Deans International (VDIs) and regional Pro-Vice-Provosts (PVPRs).

What is the role of the VDIs and PVPRs in the wider strategy?

The PVPRs play an important strategic role as a catalyst for UCL’s engagement in their particular region. Each term they chair the Regional Network meeting; they welcome international delegations to UCL and act as ambassadors for UCL abroad.

While the PVPRs focus on a specific region spanning all of UCL’s faculties, the role of the VDIs spans all regions in a particular faculty. They are a point of contact for academics and work with the Dean to ensure that the faculty’s global partnerships (e.g. teaching, research, consultancy, knowledge transfer) are in line with the wider strategy.

Map showing UCL activity in Europe as at September 2016How do you think the vote for Brexit has impacted on UCL’s plans for global engagement?

I think that it just shows that it is now more important than ever that UCL remains open and engaged with the world, sending a clear message to our partners (see my colleague Conor’s comments).  As our Vice-Provost (International) says, we are redoubling our efforts to meet those objectives set out in the strategy, especially with regard to Europe, one of the regions where we have a significant amount of activity.

Not only that, but I am excited to be part of reviewing, in the light of the Brexit vote, the way in which we intend to go about achieving objectives.

Ask GEO: Conor Rickford, Partnerships Manager (Europe)

By Sophie Vinter, on 20 July 2016

Conor Rickford, Partnerships Manager for EuropeConor is GEO’s Partnerships Manager for the Europe region. We asked him to share some key insights around Brexit.

Q: How many European partnerships does UCL have? How is UCL taking forward its collaborations with European partners at the moment?

A: UCL has an exceptionally large number of partnerships across Europe. In terms of Erasmus+ alone, we have more than 450 agreements with over 250 institutions. If we also consider the, less formal, academic-to-academic, researcher-to-researcher partnerships there are simply too many to count.

Quite simply, following Dame Nicola’s unequivocal statement, we are taking things forward with a renewed vigour. In practical terms, this means being more active in researching opportunities and fostering warm relations with potential partners; making sure that the wider world knows that UCL remains open and receptive to creative ideas from top partners, new and old.

The fact that the Faculty of Engineering signed the Alliance4Tech partnership agreement with the Politecnico di Milano, TU Berlin and CentraleSupélec on the day of the Referendum result gives me reason to believe that, whilst the structures around our engagement might change, UCL’s reputation for excellence and drive to collaborate will endure.

Q: What support can UCL academics get from GEO around Brexit?

A: The Europe Regional Network remains GEO’s primary channel for support around all matters European and I would encourage anyone with an interest to sign up. Through this group, we disseminate information about the regional funding streams from GEO, as well as information on new developments.

As we look to reconsider our strategic approach to European partnerships, Professor Jan Kubik (Pro-Vice-Provost, Europe) and I are welcoming contributions from members. They can email me directly.

UCL's ERASMUS+ Agreements in Europe by city

UCL’s ERASMUS+ Agreements in Europe by city

Q: How do you think Brexit might impact on UCL’s involvement in the Erasmus scheme?

A: At the moment, we are reviewing and renewing over 300 of our Erasmus agreements and that work will carry on. We will continue to host students from around Europe and will continue to offer excellent opportunities for our students to study abroad. It is clear to me that partners across Europe remain fully committed to working with us.

For our continued participation in the Erasmus scheme, I would hope that we are granted with non-EU programme status, like Norway. Some will look at the Swiss situation for a precedent, where they were suspended from full engagement in the Erasmus scheme following a 2014 referendum on free movement of people, but I think this might be a pessimistic comparison. The scale is completely different; in 2013/14, the UK received over 27,000 students, compared to around 4,000 to Switzerland and, in light of that, I suspect that there will be pressure, from both the UK and remaining EU states, to retain the UK as a full member.

Q: UCL is the most successful university in Europe for attracting Horizon 2020 funding. What impact do you think Brexit might have on this?

A: UCL’s researchers, supported by the ERIO team, have been incredibly successful and ensuring this continues has got to be a key consideration. It is too early to speak of the impact of Brexit on H2020; we are full members and the judging criteria have not changed. Post-Brexit, given the incredible depth and breadth of research capability in the UK, we may yet remain as an associated member of H2020, in a similar model to Norway.

The lack of clarity around our future engagement in H2020 is a risk that precedes Brexit and will not be resolved until well into the exit negotiations. That lack of clarity might make some colleagues in Europe slightly hesitant to involve UK academics in a joint bid but our proven success record in attracting H2020 funding should mean that is a very rare occurrence.

Q: How is UCL currently working with the wider sector?

A: As one would expect, UCL is working in concert with the key voices in sector. Our key European affiliation, the League of European Research Universities, has just published a very welcome statement, reaffirming its intentions to work with UK universities. Likewise, we will continue lobbying Government through the Russell Group and UUK. The Vice-Provost (Research)’s office have been co-ordinating contributions back to the Science and Technology Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.

As Partnership Manager for Europe, Conor helps develop collaborative projects from inception through to delivery. He can also provide strategic guidance for ERASMUS+ activities, including student mobility and funding bids.

Contact Conor on:

+44 (0)20 3108 7785 / internal 57785 

European engagement through UCL Press

By Sophie Vinter, on 19 July 2016

Europe and the World logoSince its launch in June 2015 as the UK’s first fully open access university press, UCL Press has to date reached a combined total of more than 40,000 readers in 172 countries around the world – 39 of these countries being in Europe.

So far it has made 14 books and 3 journals available to its global audience across a wide range of subjects – from archaeology and anthropology to urban studies and history – with 35 more books and several more journals already on the cards for 2017.

One of these journals will be Europe and the World – A Law Review, which is due to be released in January 2017.

The journal, co-edited by UCL Laws Professor Piet Eeckhout with academics at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Reading, is being peer reviewed by an editorial board of experts from universities and legal institutions across Europe.

It aims to contribute to legal scholarship on the place of Europe in the world, with a particular but not exclusive focus on the EU’s external relations law.

Professor Eeckhout, who recently spoke on the panel of the sold-out UCL Laws public event ‘Brexit: Legal and Constitutional requirements’, said: “The journal will cut across the traditional boundaries between national, international and EU perspectives on legal issues. Something like Brexit raises questions of all of these.

“Brexit doesn’t mean that cooperation is terminated. Academics need to use all opportunities to keep on cooperating and engaging with Europe. This journal, being based at UCL but being a European and international publication available globally, is a good example of this.”