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New Report on Study Abroad and Student Mobility: Stories of Global Citizenship?

By By Guest Blogger, on 20 September 2019

By Nicole Blum
Development Education Research Centre, UCL Institute of Education

In 2017 we received funding from the Global Engagement Office to identify some of the reasons young people decide to study abroad and what they think they gain from the experience. The research, conducted by myself with support from Douglas Bourn, set out to understand whether the learning students have gained resonates with UCL’s global citizenship and student mobility strategies.

The term ‘global citizenship’ has been around for a while, but is often used in different ways. Key authors in the field suggest that it can have a number of dimensions, including a focus on increasing global employability and competitiveness, cultivating greater understanding and appreciation of difference, or critical engagement and radical transformation of inequitable global structures and relationships.

UCL’s definition includes elements of all of these dimensions, and describes global citizens as individuals who: understand the complexity of our interconnected world, understand our biggest challenges, know their social, ethical and political responsibilities, display leadership and teamwork, and solve problems through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Our work was motivated by the common assumption that international experiences for students – including study abroad, overseas volunteering and work placements, and international travel – will result in positive learning about diverse cultures and global concerns.

While there is plenty of research which strongly supports this idea, it has tended to be based on quantitative data from questionnaires completed at the end of an experience. Relatively little research has looked in-depth at student’s own perceptions about their learning while abroad or when they return home.

We interviewed undergraduate students on UCL’s Arts and Sciences (BASc) programme to gain a better understanding of their perceptions.

The data highlighted a range of push and pull factors which influence young people’s study abroad decisions, as well as a wide range of ways in which the experience encourages (or does not) reflection on global issues and on students’ sense of themselves in the world.

Students highlighted the personal aspects of being a ‘global citizen’ when talking about their study abroad experiences:

Studying abroad was the first time I felt like I could call myself a global citizen. Before this, I had some awareness and interest in international issues, but had never left Europe and only travelled for brief periods of time. On returning, I found I had a reverse culture shock, and could relate better to international students studying in the UK.

The evidence also suggested that a number of different kinds of learning take place during study abroad, including about particular topics/ issues, experiences of particular places and/ or exposure to new ideas:

I really do think my sense of history has changed and sense of international politics has changed, and also a sense of what an English person is had changed.

Learning about colonialism and racism in the Netherlands taught me to reflect more on my own country’s issues and ugly history. Thus, making me think more globally about the lives of individuals who have suffered as a result of colonialism.

While these experiences can be highly significant for individuals, it is important to recognise that transformative learning may not happen without support. Students in this research clearly recognised the value of their study abroad learning and experiences, but also the need for more ways to reflect on this with programme organisers and with peers, particularly if they are to be able to take their learning forward.

UCL clearly sets out the potential outcomes of study abroad, with a strong emphasis on the benefits to participants’ enhanced employability, new experiences and skill development. The students we interviewed tended to agree with these benefits, although they often emphasised one aspect as most relevant to their own experience:

I’m actually probably more open now to going and working in other countries or studying in other countries, and it doesn’t feel impossible, it doesn’t feel like this huge ordeal, like this huge challenge, because ‘Oh I’ve done it now’.

I really thought I was just going to learn French, but actually I got a lot out of it academically. I took quite a lot of … studies in creative art, so video games and the cinema and comic books…. there’s a huge games industry out there but also the arts are quite strong in Montreal. And it sort of convinced me that that was a legitimate career choice. I think before then I’d sort of seen that as … you know creative industries is kind of a pipe dream, or it’s something you do if you get lucky. But actually, out there [in Canada] there are people writing scripts for video games or films or … and the fact that I could study it as an academic discipline made me realise that this is a legit thing … it’s not just this fanciful dream. So actually, I’m now hoping to go into radio.

While this study reveals some of the reasons behind the decision to study abroad, more research is needed to explore more deeply how students themselves understand their experiences of study abroad and the ways in which their learning informs their lives in the future. This is perhaps particularly important in the context of increasingly diverse student groups as well as a rapidly changing world.

For more details about the study, access the full report here: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/10078730/

Ask GEO: Dr Karen Edge 

By ucypsga, 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.

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

By ucypnmb, 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’.

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

By ucypsga, on 10 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.

Supporting policy development and education practices in Myanmar

By ucypnde, on 13 November 2017

Ministry of Education officials in Nay Pyi Taw with UCL’s Prof Marie Lall and Jonathan Dale after the workshop

Ministry of Education officials in Nay Pyi Taw with UCL’s Prof Marie Lall and Jonathan Dale after the workshop

This past summer, Professor Marie Lall, UCL’s Pro-Vice-Provost for South Asia, travelled to Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, with Jonathan Dale from UCL Institute of Education’s London Leadership Centre.

In Yangon they delivered a two-day workshop on school leadership to 90 head teachers from the state, monastic, ethnic and private sectors. A few academic colleagues from Yangon and Mandalay University, as well as some teacher trainers from teacher education colleges, also attended. The Myanmar partner ‘Smile Education’, a local NGO, arranged for participants to come from across the country including some remote and conflict-affected areas.

In Nay Pyi Taw Professor Lall and Mr Dale delivered a one-day workshop on policy development to 18 Ministry of Education (MoE) officials. All were senior civil servants, most holding the post of director general of their departments. After the workshop, they were asked to do an interactive briefing with government MPs sitting on the education select committees of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament.

Professor Lall said: “Myanmar is in a reform phase and there is a great need for capacity building at government level. I have worked with different stakeholders across the board for over a decade. However, I have never worked directly with the MoE till now and it’s unusual to have access to the heads of all departments of one ministry. The event was a resounding success.”

Since the country opened up in 2012, it has been awash with aid agencies and universities who offer help and capacity building. However, UCL’s advantage is that Professor Lall has worked in the country since 2004/5 and therefore has a reasonably good understanding of the needs that arise out of the reform process within the field of education. “UCL’s unique position can be different in that we meet actual needs without trying to impose programmes that have little relevance to the complicated local context,” added Prof Lall.

As a consequence of this activity, Professor Lall and Mr Dale recently won a new £150,000 British Council grant focused on ‘Supporting the Transformation of Higher Education in Myanmar’.

These efforts are part of UCL’s growing engagement with Myanmar that aims to build capacity across the public sector as the country continues its reform process.

If you would like to learn more about UCL’s work in Myanmar, please contact Professor Lall at m.lall@ucl.ac.uk.

UCL Institute for Global Prosperity launches new online course: Global Prosperity Beyond GDP

By By Guest Blogger, on 10 November 2017

UCL The Bartlett’s first ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) starts on 20 November. “Global Prosperity Beyond GDP” explores the need for a post-GDP approach to economies.

By Patrick Vickers, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

DSC_0510_Credit Lensational‘Global Prosperity Beyond GDP’ is a free online course, led by Professor Henrietta Moore and featuring other experts in prosperity and New Economics such as Tim Jackson, Kate Raworth, and others. It examines the problems with our current economic mind-set, and sets out a different approach, which focusses on inclusive, sustainable prosperity as opposed to growth as the model for progress.

Why is now the time to ask these questions?

UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy shows that UCL can use its unique position and reach to tackle global challenges, and try and build a better future. But part of “co-creating wise solutions to enduring and emerging global problems and Grand Challenges” must also be ensuring that the very way we think about economics and conceptualise economic success is leading us to a good future.

Economic growth – quantified by rising Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – has been the main guide for our governments since its inception in the 1930s. But with the challenges we face today, is it still the right tool to guide us towards a prosperous future? Is it putting us on the path to success?

As we look ahead at the next several decades, we should be under no illusion that that there is a crucial period for humanity ahead – possibly the most crucial. This may sound hyperbolic, but consider these two facts:

  1. The population is set to hit 10 billion by 2050 – That’s over a 40% rise on the current population and means a massive increase in demand on resources.
  2. To meet the commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement and stay within 1.5°C, the global economy needs to be carbon neutral by 2050 – This is not a baseless target – it exists because further warming would compromise natural stores of greenhouse gasses, and set global warming spiralling out of control, and ending benevolent climate that has made modern life possible.

In this context, it’s clear that the main challenge of the 21st century is meeting the needs for all within the means of the planet.

Ironically, the economic logic that created the unfathomable jumps in standard of living for most of humanity in the last couple of centuries will prevent future generations from flourishing if it is not adapted. Expansion and growth for the sake of it can no longer be the main target for countries.

We now know that we are in the Anthropocene. That means that the economic decisions we make today determine what life will be like hundreds of years down the line. Huge responsibility to think conscientiously about the economic mind-set we have so far relied on.

Our old methods of economic guidance need to be re-examined. GDP was first created to help measure the recovery of the economy from the Great Depression. It was kept because it was a useful war-time tool for measuring the capabilities of the economy. In short, it reflected the challenges of the early 20th century. But if we are going to meet the challenge of the 21st century, we may need to think differently.

Global Prosperity Beyond GDP does this, proposing new, prosperity-based measures, and shows how people are already making a start in changing out economic activity for the better.

Image credit: Lensational

Neuromarketing goes global

By By Guest Blogger, on 10 November 2017

By Joe Devlin, UCL Experimental Psychology, Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences

When John Hogan and I began running Neuromarketing Workshops we received a noticeably cool reception from colleagues.  To most neuroscientists, “neuromarketing” epitomizes the worst of pseudo-science and is used to exploit unsuspecting companies.  But business leaders are genuinely interested in what neuroscience and psychology can offer them and they naturally want to take advantage of the latest scientific knowledge.  Where can they go to get accurate, unbiased information? UCL’s reputation as a world-leading research institution provided the perfect opportunity to uniquely meet this need and deliver global impact.

John and Joe hosting workshopWhen we began, we assumed that our workshops would primarily attract people from marketing companies around London.  In fact, there was much wider interest than we anticipated.  Over the last two years, our participants have come from a range of industries beyond marketing, including retail, fashion, publishing, finance, and government.  In addition, they came not only from the UK but also from Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE and the USA. Being based in the heart of London clearly appeals to a wide audience, many of whom are willing to travel considerable distances to attend.

Fostering marketing and neuroscience collaborations in Brazil

This year we had an opportunity to run a series of seminars and workshops on a two week trip to Brazil, organized through UCL Consultants (UCLC).  In São Paulo we spoke to business leaders about the appeal of neuromarketing and its potential for improving our understanding of consumer decision making.  In Rio de Janeiro we spoke at the government’s House of Business, where we discussed how even micro-to-small sized enterprise can benefit from neuromarketing (and crucially, how to avoid neuromarketing snake oil).

John and Jo speaking at University of Central Brazil (UniCEUB)Finally in Brasilia, we were hosted by the University of Central Brazil’s (UniCEUB) marketing school to speak with faculty and students.  There we focused on the science behind neuromarketing and the need to foster stronger collaborations between marketing and neuroscience in order to further develop the field.

In all three cities, we ran in-depth two-day workshops that fleshed out these concepts, provided case-study examples (of both good and bad neuromarketing), and engaged participants with hands-on learning activities.  Ultimately about 70 people attended the workshops and another 150 came to the lectures.

Building partnerships through engagement and enterprise 

For us, the workshops are both exciting and slightly terrifying as we are often challenged to apply the research we discuss to real-world situations on the spot.  On the plus side, this has led to new industry-funded research projects.  Following our Brasil trip, we are now in discussions with two large, international companies about how they can use consumer neuroscience to understand their customers better.

In our experience, these types of opportunities provide access to new research questions, novel (and rather large!) data sets that go beyond anything we could collect in the lab, and unique opportunities for students to apply their knowledge towards solving real-world problems. We were also invited by Brazil’s small business association to help them co-create content about neuromarketing to share with businesses throughout the country via the Sebrae Corporate University.

In a recent Vice-Provost View in The Week@UCL, Dr. Dame Nicola Brewer (Vice Provost International) revealed that the Global Engagement Office has made substantial progress delivering on our Global Engagement Strategy (GES) goals with an investment of less than half a percent of UCL’s overall expenditure.  Building partnerships through engagement and enterprise also helps to meet our GES objectives, while at the same time generating revenue and novel research opportunities.

Ask GEO: Clare Burke, Partnership Manager (Africa and Middle East)

By uclqjle, on 24 May 2017

Clare_5901_SquareClare is GEO’s Partnership Manager for Africa and Middle East. She gives us an update on her work and recent visit to Ghana and South Africa.

Tell us more about your role in GEO and activity in your regions.

Since GEO was established in November 2015, I have spent time developing links with UCL colleagues who are working across Africa and the Middle East and have learned (and still continue to learn) about the type of collaborations that colleagues are engaged with. I have been amazed with the breadth of collaboration taking place across both the institution and the number of UCL Faculties and Departments who are working across these regions.

To date, I have information on almost 200 collaborations taking place on the African continent and around 45 collaborations taking place across the Middle East but I have just scratched the surface of this work and I plan to build on this data over the summer.

In terms of intensifying our engagement, UCL is exploring how we can strengthen our existing partnerships with a number of institutions including the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) , the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), and the African Health Research Institute (AHRI).

You recently returned from a visit to Africa. Could you tell us what countries you visited and how the trip went?

I recently visited Ghana and South Africa as part of a larger UCL delegation to meet with universities and to learn about their research strengths and to identify potential areas of collaboration.

In Ghana, together with the Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa and Middle East), Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, I attended the inaugural ARUA Conference. The African Research Universities Alliance or ARUA , as it is more commonly known, comprises of 16 of the top research intensive universities from 9 countries across the African continent. Led by Professor Ernest Aryeetey, ARUA’s Secretary General, this ‘Russell-Group type’ alliance will boost higher education across the continent and encourage more Western collaborations with African universities outside South Africa.

In South Africa, the delegation led by the Vice-Provost (International) visited the University of KwaZulu-Natal to strengthen the existing partnership with the university in relation to the wider African Health Research Institute (AHRI) collaboration and to explore collaborations within other disciplines (beyond health) including Arts and Humanities and Laws.

What’re you working on at the moment?

At the moment, I am following up on post-visit actions. For example, the UCL delegation met with over 40 UKZN colleagues in South Africa so I am identifying possible areas of synergy and facilitating introductions between UCL and UKZN colleagues to see if there is scope for future collaboration.

Similarly, we held a data-sharing day with UZKN colleagues here in London to build on some of the initial conversations held in Durban so that UCL and UKZN colleagues could meet each other face to face.

I am also working with SLMS colleagues on the AHRI collaboration, while we explore if this type 2 partnership could become one of future strategic partnerships given its close alignment to a number of the Strategic Drivers of the Global Engagement Strategy (GES).

Finally, over the summer, I will continue to build on the regional data mapping exercise and will capture more information on UCL’s activities and collaborations across the region so that we can share this across the institution. If your work is not included, let me know!

How can people keep up to date with UCL’s activity in Africa and Middle East?

I regularly circulate details of upcoming regionally-focussed events and funding calls as well as our termly newsletter which includes regional highlights and success stories. Together with the Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa and Middle East), I also coordinate termly meetings which all network members are invited to. We hold region specific events each year; our successful Knowledge Africa 2017 – Africa Unheard event took place in February and the next event, UCL in the Middle East 2017: The Middle East re-mapped will take place on 5 June. Network membership has increased significantly in the last 12 months and I would encourage colleagues with an interest in the region to sign up to our mailing list.


Contact Clare on:

+44 (0)20 3108 7776 / internal 57776

UCL at Going Global 2016, South Africa: exploring the impact of international university partnerships

By Sophie Vinter, on 5 May 2016

Dame Nicola Brewer with Professor Zeblon VilakaziDame Nicola Brewer, UCL’s Vice-Provost (International), joined a panel of higher education leaders from around the world at the British Council’s Going Global conference in Cape Town this week.

Speaking at the session ‘University partnerships: delivering international impact?’, Dame Nicola – who was formerly British High Commissioner to South Africa – presented UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy and our collaborative approach to partnership working with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).

She outlined how both institutions have been taking forward a number of initiatives as part of their emerging partnership. These range from classic forms of international activity (visits and lectures by faculty in each university, exploring funding opportunities to support student mobility) to more ambitious plans for joint appointments, as well as an idea for a co-designed and co-hosted conference about ‘equal partnerships in an unequal world’.

Dr Peter Clayton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University, chaired the session, and fellow speakers represented Brazil’s University of Campinas, The University of Tokyo and Heriot-Watt University.

Wits University Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Zeblon Vilakazi (pictured above with Dame Nicola) also attended the session.

Dame Nicola Brewer addressing delegates at Going Global 2016 in South Africa“As London’s Global University, UCL is looking to build reciprocal relationships of mutual trust and respect with partners around the world to co-create fair solutions to some of the most pressing global challenges,” said Dame Nicola.

“Our Global Engagement Strategy provides the framework and the focus for this approach. UCL’s partnership with the University of the Witwatersrand is a great example of how diverse and geographically distant universities can work together and learn from each other to deliver greater impact together than they could apart.”

Professor Vilakazi said the partnership is a perfect fit for Wits, adding: “Wits is located at the heart of a large metropolis that is grappling with a set of dynamics that are often characterised as a collision between the challenges of the ‘developed global north’ and the ‘developing global south’. This makes Wits and UCL ideal partners, as Global City Universities, to share expertise and make a unique contribution in addressing some of these challenges.”

Going Global is an annual conference offering an open forum for global leaders of tertiary education to discuss issues facing the international education community. This year’s theme was “Building nations and connecting cultures: education policy, economic development and engagement.”

UCL and Chile: Visit by the Chilean Minister for Finance and the Minister for Mining

By Kerry Milton, on 18 November 2015

UCL’s relationship with Chile continues to develop and deepen following a number of high level visits to UCL over recent months.

Chilean Minister for Finance and Chile Day 2015

The Chilean Minister for Finance, Rodrigo Valdés Pulido was welcomed to UCL by Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost on 7 September 2015. Minister Valdés Pulido’s visit began with a private meeting with Professor Arthur and Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International) to discuss UCL’s strengthening relationship with Chile and the challenges Chile’s economy is currently facing. The Minister was joined by H.E. Fiona Clouder, British Ambassador to Chile and H.E. Rolando Drago Rodríguez, Chilean Ambassador to Great Britain.

The private meeting was followed by a public lecture given by the Minister and introduced by Professor Arthur. The lecture, titled ‘Chilean Economy: challenges ahead’, had an audience of over 150 people, formed of UCL staff and students as well as senior colleagues from the Chilean and British finance sectors attending Chile Day 2015 events across London.

The visit was a fantastic opportunity for the Minister to also engage with Chilean students studying at UCL and academic colleagues with an interest in developing collaborations to support Chile’s economic development.

Chilean Minister for Mining

The Minister for Mining, Government of Chile was welcomed to UCL on 13 October 2015 by Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International). The Minister visited UCL to discuss the challenges facing Chile in relation to the Mining sector and to explore ways in which UCL could support development of solutions to these challenges.

In addition to meeting with Dame Nicola, the Minister held a roundtable discussion with UCL academics and students from Faculty of Engineering Sciences, Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. During the discussion the Minister outlined specific issues facing the mining sector broadly related to energy and water supply, environmental rights and mine tailings with UCL colleagues noting the expertise at UCL which could support development of solutions to these challenges. As a result, a follow up meeting will be held in Santiago with Dame Nicola Brewer and academic colleagues on the UCL delegation visit to Chile, 3-4 December 2015 to discuss next steps in developing collaboration.

Dame Nicola has said of the developing relationship with Chile ‘Chile is one of UCL’s priority countries in Latin America. We welcome increasing numbers of Chilean students to study here every year – UCL now being the number one destination in the UK for Chilean students. We are committed to developing strong partnerships of equivalence with Chile and will undertake an institutional visit there from 3-4 December in order to build on the growing number of engagements from Chilean national agencies and universities.’