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

ucypsga10 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.

Knowledge Africa presents…

ucypcbu22 June 2016

Guests network at the inaugural Knowledge Africa eventThe inaugural Knowledge Africa event was held at UCL on 16 June, marking the International Day of the African Child and the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising.

The event, organised by Regional Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa & Middle East) Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu and the Global Engagement Office, brought together key academics from UCL working on Africa-relevant research with a view to fostering interdisciplinary work.

A series of lectures focused on healthcare, infrastructure and social questions relevant to a number of African countries. Highlights included:

  • Deenan Pillay, Director of the Africa Centre for Population Health, presenting his vision to build the world’s leading global human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis research centre
  • How healthcare budgets may be prioritised to achieve the best outcomes for their HIV patients, demonstrated by Jolene Skordis-Worrall of the Institute for Global Health
  • Using data from the iSense programme, presented by Rachel McKendry of the London Centre for Nanotechnology, to improve disease diagnosis in rural South African communities
  • Yacob Mulugetta of the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) describing innovative methods of bringing energy to households
  • Richard Taylor of the Geography department presenting work on improving rural access to water supplies
  • Governance issues being highlighted by Michael Walls of the Development Planning Unit, who outlined the electoral challenges facing Somaliland
  • Kamna Patel defining the notion of inclusive citizenship; a concept that focuses on the most disadvantaged individuals in any society
  • Hélène Neveu Kringelbach giving an insightful presentation on the use of dance as a form of protest
  • Details of funding streams available for work in the region from Carlos Huggins of UCL Consultancy.

Dr Kamna Patel looking at the poster boardsA panel discussion raised interesting questions on the role of Western institutions in setting and delivering the African research agenda.

Attendees networked during a poster session and photographic exhibition that showcased research projects across the university.

Naomi Britton, Professional and Executive Education Coordinator at UCL STEaPP, said: “I found the event really helpful and enlightening, seeing all the different activities underway in the Africa region. It’s definitely highlighted research in different departments that we could look at partnering with in STEaPP.”