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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.

UCL continues to support at-risk academics and students

By Kerry Milton, on 14 October 2015

At a time when the media directs the attention of all of us to the plight of those affected by Europe’s refugee and migrant crisis, UCL is committed to supporting academics and students whose research and education has been disrupted and whose lives are at risk, through funding and placements enabling them to complete their education and research.

Working with the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara) since 2006, UCL has a track-record of helping academics who are unable to continue their research in their home country. Cara (founded in 1933 by some of Britain’s foremost academics and scientists) seeks to help academics and scientists who are fleeing from discrimination, persecution and violence in some of the world’s most dangerous places by securing placements through their UK University Network. UCL also works with the Saïd Foundation, a non-political and non-sectarian organisation which supports students predominately in Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and the United Kingdom to complete their education.

When the need to support displaced academics and students is greater than ever, UCL will continue working with organisations such as Cara and the Saïd Foundation, enabling academics and students in the greatest need to find a safe harbour at UCL in London to continue their research and study. We do this through tuition fee waivers and Fellowships with a number of students and research Fellows currently on campus. In addition, UCL has recently decided to double its annual subscription to Cara for the next three years, with immediate effect.

Stephen Wordsworth CMG LVO, Cara’s Executive Director recently commented “At Cara, we are delighted to recognise UCL as one of the strongest supporters of our work this year – generously hosting, with support from central resources, Academic Departments and DARO, while also increasing its existing contribution to Cara’s central funds, without which Cara couldn’t operate at all. With growing numbers of academics across the Middle East in particular at serious risk, and desperately needing a safe haven where they can study and work until they are able to return, we look forward to building on this outstanding cooperation in the years ahead.” Further information is available in Cara’s Annual Report.

A number of UCL staff and colleagues from other institutions met at UCL two weeks ago to discuss the recent Research Professional article “Refugee crisis ‘exposes knowledge gaps'”. UCL staff wishing to contribute to this discussion should contact Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh at e.fiddian-qasmiyeh@ucl.ac.uk

Agreement signed with Tohoku University, Japan

By Kerry Milton, on 29 November 2013

Agreement signed with Tohoku University, Japan

Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost, has signed a new institutional agreement with Susumu Satomi, President of Tohoku University, one of Japan’s top universities. The ceremony was also attended by His Excellency Keiichi Hayashi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan and other representatives of the university.

Tohoku shares a common mission with UCL in that it has been committed to an ‘Open Door’ policy since its foundation – it was the first Japanese university to admit female students for instance. It is an outward looking university that is internationally recognised for its outstanding standards in education and research.

The university is located in Sendai City and was severely damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. In response, Tohoku University has launched the Institute for Disaster Reconstruction and Regeneration Research and has constructed over 180 projects. These include seven large scale projects such as the establishment of International Research Projects on Disaster Science and the implementation of the Tohoku Medical Bank Program.

The initial focus of the collaboration will be on life science, materials science and disaster science. UCL and Tohoku University will also explore opportunities in other fields based on mutual interests.