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

Sian EGardiner10 January 2018


Could 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.

Small world, big experiences: exploring student mobility at UCL

JasonLewis19 October 2017

This week, the Study Abroad team is running its annual Study Abroad Fair, celebrating the breadth and variety of UCL’s outward mobility opportunities and encouraging students to take full advantage.

UCL has exchange agreements with over 250 institutions in 40 countries across five continents, including 48 of the world’s top 100 universities.

Data compiled by GEO’s Strategic Data Manager, Alejandro Moreno, indicates that in 2016, UCL students participated in outward mobility experiences in destinations ranging from Los Angeles, California to Avarua, New Zealand.

The map below highlights the cities where these experiences took place:

Cities where UCL students have participated in an outward mobility experience

UCL Study Abroad also provides students with different exchange and mobility options. This pie chart shows the percentage breakdown of student mobility in 2016 across the various types of mobility available.

 percentage breakdown of student mobility in 2016 across the various types of mobility available

UCL students who have participated in an outward mobility opportunity – whether spending a year at a prestigious American university or a couple of months excavating historic sites in Israel – have recommended it as an extremely worthwhile experience.

Here are a few student testimonials.

Alexandra Willems, Law

“There is something very heartening about travelling halfway across the world and still finding people to complain about Eduroam with, in whatever language that may be.”

Alexandra Willems in ShanghaiAlexandra Willems was one of six UCL students to join the summer Study China Programme 2017 – an immersive three-week Mandarin Chinese programme.

Reflecting on her experience, Alex said: “The main aspect of the trip that has stayed with me was the high level of organisation. There was a clear system of support, as well as a timetable and a placement test for the Mandarin Chinese Advanced Level speakers.”

students and monks during temple visitShe added: “The programme included an afternoon of seeing the main sites in Shanghai, including the Bund, People’s Square and the Shanghai Museum, but much of our free time allowed us to explore our own personal interests in the city. My favourite place that I visited this time was the little-known underground Propaganda Art Museum, legally allowed but only in a restricted location”

“In all, the Study China Programme is an amazing opportunity that is organised to a very high standard. Many thanks to all those involved in making it the insightful and educational experience that it was, and I am only saddened that I cannot do it again. Someone else will have to live that experience for me in future programmes, and what a lucky one they will be.”

Eshitha Vaz, Population Health

“The course has shifted and tilted my perspectives as to what it means to be a student.”

Eshitha surfingEshitha Vaz was awarded one of the Study Abroad tuition fee free places at the University of Sydney.

At the University of Sydney, she got the chance to study Aboriginal Culture and History. Speaking on the impact of the course Eshitha said: “I feel I have become more culturally literate in the process and more aware of socio-political currents which have enhanced my career aspirations in turn.”

On her time in Australia, Eshitha added: “Certainly, the personal highlights of the time I spent in Australia were the friends I made and the places I got to visit. As recommended by our programme, I participated in a three-day ‘Surf Camp’ at Seven-Mile Beach in New South Wales where I learned how to surf. It was here that I formed my best friends throughout the trip, some of whom were studying at different Universities and schools in Sydney.”

“The landscape and natural beauty of Australia is undeniably powerful which is why I was so grateful that our timetable facilitated exploration. Two of my closest friends and I took a flight to Cairns, Queensland on a weekend and managed to go scuba diving and snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef: one of the seven ‘Natural Wonders’ of the world and the world’s largest coral reef – an experience of a lifetime.”

Moiz Paracha, Chemical Engineering

“From Penguin Colonies to roaming through the Hout Bay, there is so much to do.”

moiz paracha in cape townMoiz Paracha was part of the first UCL outward mobility experience to the University of Cape Town, where he joined the Sustainable Water Management in Africa course.

On his time in South Africa, Moiz said: “This was honestly an amazing experience, not just on an educational level but also on a personal one. The willingness and desire they have to genuinely make a change to the country is really what caught my attention. The experience, in general, is very eye-opening. The type of new people you can meet and the calmer pace of life is a great cultural experience.”

Reflecting on the landscape, he added: “The beauty of the country is phenomenal. Overall if you’re even vaguely thinking about applying, go do it because it’s something you won’t regret.”

To find out more about what opportunities are available to you and to read more student testimonials, visit the UCL Study Abroad website and follow them on Twitter @UCLcares.

Data visualisations courtesy of GEO’s Strategic Data Manager, Alejandro Moreno

Ask GEO: Alejandro Moreno, Strategic Data Manager

JasonLewis15 September 2017

Alejandro_5796_SquareAlejandro is GEO’s Strategic Data Manager. Through analysis of the various databases that UCL uses and produces, Alejandro monitors the levels, patterns and progress of global activity underway across the university, which helps track delivery of the Global Engagement Strategy. He tells us more about his work and reveals some interesting statistics about UCL’s collaborations abroad.

Tell us more about your role in GEO
My role is to map UCL’s relationship with the world, one map at a time. The idea is that we have a database into how we interact across the globe, for example: How many students from Japan study in UCL? How may UCL graduates work in South Africa? How do we make an impact on South America rural areas? How many collaborations do we have with American Universities? Answering those questions is broadly speaking my role.

How could you be of support to UCL staff outside of GEO?
If there is a question as to what UCL is doing in certain geographical areas, or where we are collaborating with a specific institution, that is a query I can help with. Let’s assume an academic is travelling to Colombia for a conference: he could contact us and we could let him know which other academics have links in the country. That way he would be aware of UCL’s relationship with Colombia and know more about the specifics of collaborating there from first-hand experience.

Could you share some interesting statistics on UCL’s global activity we might not ordinarily be aware of?
Sure, below is a sample showing our wide geographical reach in terms of institutions we have collaborated with. UCL has collaborated with around 1,000 institutions worldwide.

UCL collaborations infographic
Also, since I am from Mexico, here you can see the places where Mexican institutions have downloaded UCL e-books though JStor:

Mexico infographic
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on mapping the collaborations that UCL has with China, and which faculties collaborate in which city:

China infographic

Contact Alejandro on:

a.moreno@ucl.ac.uk
+44 (0)20 3108 7789 / internal 57789

UCL graduate wins One World Media Award for China documentary

SophieVinter8 June 2017

UCL graduate Minmin Wu won the Student Award at the One World Media Awards for her graduation film 'Waste'UCL graduate Minmin Wu (MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film 2016), has won the 2017 Student Award at the One World Media Awards for her graduation film Waste.

Waste follows Yanin Ma, an 11-year- old girl living with leukaemia in China. Having spent the last month undergoing chemotherapy in Guangzhou City, she now wants only to go home. But Yanin’s hometown in Shantou is one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world and some believe this could be a cause of her illness.

Minmin is the second Open City Docs School MA graduate to receive the accolade, after Fernando González Mitjans’ win for his graduation film Limpiadores in 2016.

She was one of 25 who formed the second cohort of Masters students in UCL’s new MA in Ethnographic and Documentary Film. Her film exemplifies the kind of work the MA’s tutors set out to encourage – rooted in the research culture of a great university but made in the highly personal voice and cinematic vision of the filmmaker.

Minmin said: “I want to thank UCL, Open City Docs School, my tutors and my friends who helped me make this film. I made this film not just because I wanted to raise attention to environmental pollution in China but also because I had similar experiences to what the characters go through in my film. I wanted to share their feelings and story with a wider audience.”

Read the full story here.

Scholarship opportunity in China – apply by 13 February

Chris E CCook5 January 2017

An excellent funding opportunity is again running for UCL students with an interest in China.

The Chinese Government Scholarship scheme covers tuition fees, medical insurance, accommodation and a living allowance for successful applicants to study in China for a period of up to one academic year.

Students must satisfy the following criteria in order to be eligible to apply:

  • Be a national of a country other than China
  • Be under age 45 and with at least two years of undergraduate level study

UCL will be shortlisting nominations for this scholarship scheme.

How to apply

In order to submit an application for consideration by the UCL panel, please send the following documents by email to Chris Cook (c.cook@ucl.ac.uk), Global Engagement Office Partnership Officer, as soon as possible and by 9am on 13 February 2017 at the latest:

  1. CV
  2. Academic transcripts (find more information on how to obtain UCL transcripts here)
  3. Two recommendation letters from UCL academics
  4. Study Plan (minimum of 500 words)

For more information visit the Chinese Government Scholarship website.

 

Yenching Academy Scholarship and Global Symposium: Apply now

SophieVinter3 November 2016

Yenching Academy Scholarship posterUCL students wanting to develop their understanding of China and its role in the world can apply for a fully funded Master’s scholarship at Peking University (PKU).

The Yenching Academy is offering the chance to complete an interdisciplinary Master’s in China Studies at the heart of PKU in Beijing.

Applications are open to graduates of any discipline until 31 January 2017 and can be submitted directly through the Yenching Academy website.

Students can also apply to attend the Academy’s flagship event, the Yenching Global Symposium, taking place from 23-27 March 2017 . This year’s theme is “Xinnovation: Identity of Innovation in China” and applications close on 15 December 2016.

Professor John L Holden, Associate Dean of the Yenching Academy, and UCL History graduate James Ashcroft, who was among the first cohort of scholars, visited UCL to encourage students with an interest in China to apply.

They explained how the residential programme attracts outstanding graduates from all over the world, helping to shape a new generation of global citizens with a nuanced understanding of China.

“The best year of my life”

James, who is now working as a consultant at Deloitte, described how the experience offered the chance not only for intercultural and academic exchange, but also for personal and professional development.

Chinese cultural activitiesHe said: “I principally studied 16th and 17th century political thought at UCL, but also Chinese history. I’d never been to China or studied Chinese before, but the Academy flew us out one month before to do an intensive language course which was a very useful survival kit to have.

“I focussed less on the academic things and more on the experience I could get out of being in China – it was the best year of my life. Afterwards I moved to Taiwan and stayed with a host family. It’s a really stimulating environment to be in and by the end you have friends for life from all over the globe.”

Working closely with their academic mentors, Yenching Scholars create their own study paths by choosing from six academic concentrations – ranging from Economics and Management to Politics and International Relations – and participating in a variety of extracurricular activities.

Changing the world

Professor Holden said the programme attracts a variety of high-profile speakers including international ambassadors and renowned authors such as Yu Hua. Some scholars also undertake internships as part of their time in China.

Professor John Holden is encouraging UCL students to apply for the Yenching Academy scholarshipHe said: “There is no place like PKU in China; it is where all major Chinese social movements have been initiated. We’re able to recruit spectacular people who want to change the world and make a difference.

“This year we are rolling out a new course, ‘China in Transition’, which is an interdisciplinary look at China since 1978. We provide funds for each scholar to go out and research for that course on trips, and there is also a field trip in the autumn.”

Both urged applicants to make their personal statement stand out and to prepare well for the short Skype interview.

James added: “Make sure you have a good recommendation from people who know you well. Use your personal statement to help us understand who you are – it’s not just about your academic quality, think about why you want to participate and how this will tie into your future.”

 

 

Bridging the gap: social media use in China

SophieVinter13 September 2016

UCL's Xinyuan Wang doing field work among young Chinese factory workers“While ‘Made in China’ products have become pervasive in our daily lives, the people who produce them remain mysterious. However, our research reveals that Chinese factory workers actually exhibit an unexpected and sophisticated use of social media to bridge the gap between their rural roots and their industrial lives.”

Author Xinyuan Wang is referring to her new open-access book, Social Media in Industrial China, which launched on 13 September along with its sister title Social Media in Rural China in a special online broadcast from Hong Kong University.

A PhD candidate at the UCL department of anthropology, Xinyuan spent 15 months undertaking fieldwork in a small factory town in southeast China, living in one of the factories and tracking the workers’ use of social media.

By studying this marginalized population – who have, in many ways, embraced the potential of social media to the fullest – her in-depth research sheds light not just on Chinese social media usage, but also on the nature of contemporary China.

Xinyuan’s research is part of the UCL-led global social media impact study, ‘Why We Post’, which The Economist has described as “the biggest, most ambitious project of its sort.”

From 13-23 September Xinyuan is joining Professor Daniel Miller, the lead researcher of Why We Post, and fellow author Tom McDonald, who received his PhD from UCL anthropology and is currently an associate professor at Hong Kong University, in giving a series of talks about the project in nine top universities in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.

Social media as education

Tom McDonald, Xinyuan Wang and Daniel Miller at the online book launchWhy We Post saw a team of nine anthropologists each spend 15 months living in villages or towns in eight different countries.

As well as two fieldsites in China, locations included a town on the Syrian-Turkish border, low income settlements in Brazil and Chile, an IT complex set between villages in South India, small towns in south Italy and Trinidad and a village in England.

In China, Xinyuan found that social media is playing a key role in filling the gap left by the lack of education and schooling. She said: “For young migrant workers who dropped out of school early and became factory workers before adulthood, social media is the ‘post-school’ education and this schooling implies their ‘coming of the age’.

“For many migrant workers, social media is less of a bridge that connects with what they have left behind in villages, than a projector which illuminates an ideal modern life these people are longing for. Therefore it is a study of two paralleled migrations: one from rural to urban, but simultaneously another migration from offline to online.”

Open access

All the books from Why We Post are being published by UCL Press as open access in 2016-2017.

Xinyuan added: “The free online knowledge provided by Open Access allows the possibility of a significantly extended readership, which is extremely important for books focusing on how the digital can possibly change the lives of marginalised populations and low income populations.

“To bring this knowledge of Chinese social media in the context of the global comparative study back to China is a big commitment the project aims to make, with the ultimate goal of free global education.”

New resources to support LGBT staff and students working abroad

SophieVinter14 July 2016

The charity Stonewall has launched a set of Global Workplace Briefings to support LGBT employees travelling overseasForty per cent of the world’s population live in countries where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can be imprisoned, just for being themselves.

UK charity Stonewall is fighting to change this and has launched a set of Global Workplace Briefings open to UCL staff and students to access the latest information.

UCL has a history of opening up education to people previously excluded from it, and was the first UK university to join Stonewall’s Global Diversity Champion programme for international employers, helping to promote equality around the world.

The new Global Workplace Briefings shine a spotlight on the situation for LGBT people in different countries, which will enable UCL staff and students planning to work overseas to keep up to date on changing laws and the potential implications.

Protecting from discrimination

In more than half the world, LGBT people are not protected from discrimination under workplace law.

The first set of briefings, which are available via UCL’s Equalities website, cover Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and Turkey.

Further briefings will follow later this year.

Each briefing outlines the legal, socio-cultural and workplace situation for LGBT people in the specified country and showcases progressive workplace practices from Stonewall’s membership.

They provide an important summary of in-country contexts for global mobility teams, helping them to identify where colleagues may need additional support when travelling internationally.

Supporting UCL’s LGBTQ community

Dr Fiona Leigh, a member of UCL’s LGBTQ+ Equality Advisory Group (LEAG), said UCL is now working further with Stonewall to produce additional briefings specifically for those working within higher education.

She said: “UCL is committed to providing resources and information for the safety and support of all of our staff and students, when travelling and working internationally.

“These briefings provide a very useful background in this endeavour, whether for LGBT staff or students or those supporting others with international visits.”

Guangdong planners join Bartlett’s ‘Urban Organic Renewal’ training course

SophieVinter23 February 2016

By David Cobb, Director of Business Development, The Bartlett

Attendees of The Bartlett's ‘Urban Organic Renewal’ training courseFor the second time in as many years The Bartlett welcomed a large delegation of Chinese urban planners from several cities across Guangdong Province.

The 10-day executive training course focused on the theme of ‘Urban Organic Renewal’ and drew on the expertise of The Bartlett’s senior academics – along with invited specialist guest lecturers.

The training visit, undertaken on a commercial basis, celebrated The Bartlett’s warm and developing relationship with Guangdong Province. Beyond the 2013 training course Bartlett professors have participated in Guangdong’s ‘Mayors Fora’ and delivered workshops in Zhuhai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

The delegation visiting UCL was led by President Zhang Zhaokang, Guangdong Urban & Rural Planning and Design Institute and included a former Bartlett Development Planning Unit alumnus, Ma Xiangming.

London’s regeneration

The training visit included 10 days at UCL, including lectures and site visits at which academics could showcase London’s approach to regeneration and renewal at locations including the Olympic Park; Kings Cross Station; South Bank; The Shard and Docklands.

External guest speakers included Michele Dix, Managing Director of Crossrail 2, who is also a visiting Professor to The Bartlett School of Planning.

The Bartlett course delegates in the same pub previously visited by Chinese President Xi Jinping

The delegation used their remaining time in the UK by visiting provincial cities – including Edinburgh, Bath, Oxford and Cambridge – at which they met city experts and officials to learn more about the governance and challenges they face.

One unintended coach stop was particularly welcomed by the delegation. They stopped at the same pub where their President Xi Jinping joined Prime Minister Cameron to eat fish and chips and enjoy a couple of pints of Green King IPA beer just a few weeks beforehand! A good photo stop!

Meeting key influencers

A feature of this training course was the increased profile, contribution and support provided by the Bartlett’s Chinese ‘student team’ comprising 10 PhD planning students and one urban design masters student. It gave them access to meet and socialise with influential Chinese planners and hopefully this will be helpful to some in their future careers upon returning to China.

Feedback on the course has been overwhelmingly positive, with one delegate commenting: “Wonderful. UCL is indeed a strong and sophisticated university. I especially like how urban planning and urban design are combined in the academic structure. Also using the underground to classes, though tiring, is a good way of learning about this city. A very unique experience.”

Scholarship opportunity in China – apply by 19 February

SophieVinter4 February 2016

An excellent funding opportunity has arisen for UCL students with an interest in China. The Chinese Government Scholarship scheme covers tuition fees, medical insurance, accommodation and a living allowance for successful applicants to study Chinese language for a period of up to one academic year.

Students must satisfy the following criteria in order to be eligible to apply:

  • Be a national of a country other than China
  • Be under age 45 and with at least two years of Undergraduate level study

UCL will be shortlisting nominations for this scholarship scheme.

How to apply

In order to submit an application for consideration by the UCL panel, please send the following documents by email to Oliver Tomlinson (o.tomlinson@ucl.ac.uk), Partnership Officer, as soon as possible and by 19 February at the latest:

  1. CV
  2. Academic transcripts (find more information on how to obtain UCL transcripts here)
  3. Two recommendation letters from UCL academics
  4. Study Plan (minimum of 500 words)

For more information about the Chinese Government Scholarship programme, visit their website.