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Archive for the 'Global Engagement Office' Category

Giving a big hand to UCL’s donors – UCL’s new Donor Wall is unveiled

By ucypnmb, on 23 May 2019

Written on behalf of Lori Houlihan, Vice-Provost (Advancement)

Next time you walk through the Wilkins Terrace, look out for a striking new piece of public art literally reaching out to you. The installation, featuring over 60 hands individually cast in bronze and aluminium, is UCL’s new Donor Wall – a high-profile celebration of the enormous role that philanthropy plays in supporting our community and delivering our long-term ambitions.

Close up of the new Donor Wall in Wilkins Terrace

The hands belong to members of UCL’s Circle of Benefactors, a diverse group of our most generous donors who give to us at the £1m+ level, plus other leading supporters of UCL. They include TV presenter Nick Ross representing the Jill Dando Fund, AI pioneer Demis Hassabis representing DeepMind, Founder and Executive Chairman of Iceland Food Sir Malcolm Walker, Hong Kong-based alumna Cathy Lee, and alumni Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas – plus many more individuals, companies, organisations, charities, trusts and foundations from around the world.

The Wall was created by Slade School alumna Dr Sarah Fortais and you can find out more about her concept in this video.

We officially unveiled the Donor Wall last week at a wonderfully celebratory event to demonstrate to our largest donors how much their investment and partnership matters to UCL.

Unveiling the Donor Wall: (l to r) Angharad Milenkovic, Director of Development; alumnus and donor George Farha; artist Sarah Fortais; President & Provost Michael Arthur; Vice-Provost (International) Nicola Brewer

Guests included UCL alumnus George Farha, whose name will be familiar to all of us thanks to his outstanding and very diverse support of UCL, which ranges from funding the George Farha Café to supporting scholarships and posts in areas including women’s health, social justice and the built environment.

Recalling his student days, he commented that UCL is “a lot bigger and quite a bit shinier” than in his day, adding that “the thing that has remained the same is UCL’s commitment to its radical roots.”

The event was also an opportunity to update guests on the progress of the It’s All Academic Campaign, to which they have contributed significantly. The Campaign total now stands at £525 million and is set to reach its target of £600 million in 2020 – one year ahead of schedule.

Students who have received a scholarship thanks to philanthropy reveal the latest Campaign total

These huge sums of money are hard to visualise but what we can see very clearly is the tangible impact they are having. Thanks to philanthropy, hundreds of students have received life- changing opportunities through scholarships. A major new home for our neuroscience research bringing is rising up on Grays Inn Road, bringing UCL’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology and the hub of the UK Dementia Research Institute together under one roof.

Nick Ross marks the Donor Wall unveiling on behalf of the Jill Dando Fund, which supports the UCL Jill Dando Institute

Generous donations have catalysed the creation of institutes and research programmes which harness UCL’s multidisciplinary excellence to lead the way in artificial intelligence, mental health, mission-oriented economics, early years education, and much more.

The success of the Campaign, and the breadth and diversity of Circle of Benefactors members, is a great tribute to Lori Houlihan, Vice-Provost (Advancement). Under her leadership, UCL has grown to become one of the UK’s highest performing fundraising universities and this Campaign has broadened and globalised our supporter base significantly.

Celebrating transformational philanthropy

Unfortunately, due to ill health, Lori couldn’t be at last Thursday’s event to see the fruits of her astute and creative leadership. I was privileged to step in on her behalf. While she is recovering, she has asked me to look after OVPA and I am happy to be working with her brilliant team in the interim.

I know that Lori would want me to thank the whole UCL community, whose support has been vital to making the Campaign the great success it is. The Donor Wall provides a highly visible testament to how far UCL has come in establishing fundraising as a university-wide endeavour and a crucial enabler of our academic mission.

Strengthening our global impact

By ucypnmb, on 21 March 2019

Dr Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost International

Dr Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost International

By the time you read this it may be clearer (it could hardly be less clear) whether the UK is going to leave the EU on 29 March, on 22 or 23 May [i], on 30 June or possibly at some other date after European Parliament elections. As I write, it isn’t. So, a good time for some longer term thinking about how global engagement can strengthen UCL’s academic mission and impact.

I predict that in 15 years’ time, there will be around 15 to 20 world-class universities that are distinctive in being both institutionally and academically very outward looking and internationally engaged. Some of those 15-20 will want to make a global impact for good. UCL could well be one of them. If we are, it will be because we’ve built real partnerships of equivalence around the world that make it easier for new research collaborations to be co-funded, for joint appointments to be made, for student exchanges to expand, for more foreign students from a wider range of countries to want to apply to study with us, and for more co-publications which attract high citations. That would be good for our academic mission, for individual academics and for UCL’s global impact and profile.

This is unlikely to happen by chance, without sustained effort and some institutional support. Strategic global impact, built bottom up, requires long term engagement. If we can identify patterns of individual UCL academics collaborating with particular HEIs overseas, then by building some strategic support around those collaborations – for example, student exchange agreements, joint seed funding schemes, dual degrees, visible support from the Presidents of the institutions – we can increase the chances of the partnership lasting and expanding to include more people and have more impact. If a partnership is entirely dependent on only one person in each university partner, the institutional link is likely to end when their careers take them elsewhere.

Prof Marie Lall, Prof Monica Lakhanpaul and Prof Priti Parikh

Prof Marie Lall, Prof Monica Lakhanpaul and Prof Priti Parikh, the academics working on a cross-disciplinary project to improve child nutrition in India

How much does this matter? It’s particularly important to have strongly committed international partners in difficult times.  In the short term, even UCL’s brilliant minds may face challenges taking the lead in European research groups.  And equally, working in a university that is comfortably in the top 20 worldwide gets all of us a warmer welcome from other leading universities than if we were relying only on individual reputations. One example: over two years of academic-led (thank you Professor Marie Lall and Professor Monica Lakhanpaul, and many others) incremental increase in our engagement with India led to an outstandingly warm and constructive welcome from the academic community at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences when the Provost and 10 academic colleagues from UCL visited last month. Not once did we have to explain that ‘we aren’t from UCLA’.

What’s the point of global partnerships?

Our Global Engagement Strategy is to work with partners to achieve fair solutions to global challenges. This involves developing strategic partnerships with international partners with global reputations, with whom UCL shares interests and expertise in solving world issues. So the partnership is not an end in itself: it is an additional means to support our academic mission.

Those strategic partnerships are being, and will continue to be, built from the ‘bottom up’, through existing academic collaboration. Alongside six ‘Type 3’ cross-institutional partnerships (the University of Hong Kong, the Max Planck Society, Osaka University, Université PSL, the University of Toronto and Yale University), we announced Peking University as our first ‘anchor partner,’ last year.

The University of Toronto is likely to become our next anchor partner, thanks to strong Faculty engagement in areas including child health, brain sciences, cities and education; plus strong commitment at a senior level, a successful joint funding scheme and a number of reciprocal visits – the next by the Provost in early April.

And we have a pipeline of 17 Faculty-led partnerships with the potential to become cross-institutional partners involving more Faculties.

Cities partnerships Programme

The Cities partnerships Programme has launched in Rome and Paris

The Cities partnerships Programme has launched in Rome and Paris

Initial doubts from some colleagues about a new initiative as part of the Global Engagement Strategy, designed to counteract the Brexit effect, called the Cities partnerships Programme, turned to enthusiasm after some changes before the programme began. Encouraging numbers of UCL staff applied for small grants to support academic collaborations in Rome over the next three years. The first 30 projects, all being curated by Dr Florian Mussgnug (SELCS) as Academic Director, have been allocated funding and more will follow. The next cycle of projects will be in Paris, led by Dr Claire Colomb from the Bartlett. I am confident that UCL’s profile and impact in both cities will rise as a result, especially in France which Collette Lux’s Communications and Marketing team have identified as one of three priority markets to increase brand awareness of UCL.

The Cities partnerships Programme offers seed funding over the three years it will run in each city. Every Faculty is receiving funding and projects will be led by senior academics and early career colleagues. Applications for the next round of funding have just opened so if you’re looking for support for a project designed with partners in Rome or Paris, please do apply.

A small set of strategic partnerships and the Cities partnerships Programme are just two of the priority activities to deliver UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy 2015-2020 launched four years ago after wide consultation, and shortly to be reviewed to see if we should change or extend it for a further five years.

We’ll be doing this review over the next 18 months. We gave it a ‘soft launch’ at the Leadership Forum on 5 March, and collected 64 responses to questions about what colleagues do and don’t like about the current Global Engagement Strategy. We’re still analysing the results but one early finding is that there is particularly strong support for how the Strategy promotes UCL internationally.

The student entrepreneurs behind Rice Inc, a social enterprise aiming to alleviate food poverty in Southeast Asia, which won the 2018 $1m Hult prize

The student entrepreneurs behind Rice Inc, a social enterprise aiming to alleviate food poverty in Southeast Asia, which won the 2018 $1m Hult prize

We celebrated some of that international promotion last month. Over 160 academic and professional services staff joined the annual ‘Celebrating Global Engagement Event’ on 7 February. Students who had achieved notable international success in 2018 also came, including the winners of the 2018 $1 million Hult Prize. Many of the recent Global Engagement Funds recipients were there to share their success stories of how small amounts of UCL seed funding can help shape the direction of research and secure additional external funding.

In total so far, we’ve awarded £760,000 of grants to UCL academics who have gone on to generate £13.4 million of external funding – evidence that UCL seed-funds accelerate or catalyse the process of discovery and knowledge sharing.

Over the past three years, those Global Engagement Funds have supported 550 UCL academics to partner with over 460 organisations in 79 countries. Small grants of up to £2,000 from the fund are encouraging even more visits, journal co-publications and workshops. Applications for the latest round have just opened.

Institution-wide support and staff changes

All this global engagement activity relies on internal as well as external partnership, between academics and professional services colleagues across UCL. Implementing the Global Engagement Strategy is an institution-wide effort.

We have just appointed, or in some cases reappointed, new Regional Pro Vice Provosts and some new Vice Deans International have been appointed by Faculties. Professor Alejandro Madrigal stepped down as Regional Pro Vice Provost for Latin America but will now act as Country Ambassador for Mexico, as Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma does for Japan. Dr Karen Edge returned full time to the IOE at the end of February and Professor Dame Hazel Genn (former Dean of the Faculty of Laws) will take up the post of Pro Vice Provost International in April. She will be succeeded in 2020 by Professor Deenan Pillay, currently seconded from UCL as Director of the Africa Health Research Institute based in South Africa.

Staying globally engaged – and a new discovery in Qatar

A lot has changed since we developed the Global Engagement Strategy through consultation in 2014. Despite the examples of impact we can start to show the Global Engagement Strategy is having, there‘s no denying that we are in a much tougher geopolitical context than five years ago.  UCL can’t change the global political realities, at least, not in the short term! But I believe that staying globally engaged and creating respectful partnerships of equivalence must be part of the answer. UCL needs to champion and support global citizens in our community and through our partnerships.

I’d like to share a recent example of how UCL is putting its knowledge and expertise to work in the field. In a monumental discovery earlier this month, a team led by Dr Jose Carvajal Lopez of UCL Qatar uncovered Qatar’s earliest Islamic period settlement.

The team of researchers, led by Dr José Carvajal López of UCL Qatar, at the spot where they unearthed the earliest Islamic period site in Qatar

The team of researchers, led by Dr José Carvajal López of UCL Qatar, at the spot where they unearthed the earliest Islamic period site in Qatar

As Dr Lopez said: “While this truly remarkable heritage belongs to the history of Qatar and of the Gulf, its significance goes beyond that of national and regional interests, because it can potentially change our perception of the early history of Muslims.”

That’s just one aspect of the academic excellence of UCL Qatar staff and students. To help illustrate this and to support their work, including the successful completion of UCL’s contract in Doha at the end of 2020, we have put together an infographic of their key achievements since 2010.

UCL Qatar in numbers

UCL Qatar in numbers

These are just some of the ways that UCL is having impact around the world. Please sign up to UCL Global News for many more examples. UCL’s academic mission starts at home but we want to make a difference globally. By 2034, I predict we’ll be one of those 15 or 20 leading universities that are widely recognised for doing exactly that.

[i] Following a request by Prime Minister Theresa May, the European Council (Article 50) agreed on Thursday 21 March to extend the UK’s departure date to 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons by 29 March 2019 at the latest. If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons by then, the European Council has agreed to an extension until 12 April 2019. 

UCL’s triple track European strategy

By ucypnmb, on 7 November 2018

Dr Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost InternationalAs the clock ticks down to 29 March 2019, doubts about what the future holds are growing, not reducing.

But at UCL we aren’t sitting on our hands. We’ve been consolidating existing links with Europe and identifying new partnerships that will last beyond Brexit day. We’ve also been preparing for a range of Brexit scenarios and determining how best to support our EU staff and students in each of these, most recently by stepping up our planning for a ‘no deal’ or ‘hard’ Brexit, as the Provost’s View this week explains.

I want to give you more details of the triple track European strategy we’ve devised in response to Brexit. Many academic colleagues have worked with support from the Global Engagement Office to develop this; this article only mentions some of their names. I’d like to thank everyone who has given their time and thoughts on how to counter the negative effects of Brexit on research, teaching and enterprise.

We are lucky to have an extraordinary breadth and depth of partnerships and collaborations with colleagues across Europe[1]. So we neither need, nor want to take a top-down, single EU partner approach, as some other UK institutions have chosen to do. Our existing relationships allow us to take a more inclusive approach, as part of our triple track European strategy:

  1. UCL is consolidating existing partnerships, initially focussing on nine priority European Higher Education partners

Several Faculties already have clear priority EU partner organisations. These include:

  • a new partnership framework with KU Leuven, set up this year, focused on neurodegenerative research. Professor Bart de Strooper, now jointly appointed to UCL and KU Leuven, supervises this partnership from the UK Dementia Research Institute, which he leads
  • the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, led by Professor Ray Dolan, is being renewed this month. Another major collaboration with the Max Planck Society is in the pipeline, which I hope to be able to update you on shortly
  • in the humanities and social sciences, UCL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Paris Sciences et Lettres, the first-ranked French collegiate university, to support a three year £90k research collaboration aimed at academic staff and PhD students.

These developments are additional to the range of existing programmes, dual degrees, joint appointments and research partnerships that have been in place across many European Higher Education Institutions for some time.

Having analysed patterns of existing activities by Faculties and individual academics in detail, we are prioritising our support for developing the partnerships with nine HEIs and research organisations in Europe. In addition to the three organisations mentioned above, we are currently prioritising links with:

  • Sorbonne Université – our partners on a Dual Masters in Brain and Mind Sciences
  • Sciences Po Paris – with whom we share a Dual Bachelors in European Social and Political Studies
  • TU Delft – a member of the Bartlett’s BauHow5 consortium, currently developing projects on sustainability in the built environment
  • Utrecht University – with whom we share a joint appointment and a number of major research grants
  • ETH Zurich – a fellow member of the BauHow5 group and one of the highest ranked institutions in Europe
  • LMU Munich – with whom we are currently engaged on nine Horizon2020 projects
  1. UCL is launching the Cities partnerships Programme (CpP)

The second track of our European strategy is the launch, this year, of an entirely new programme, the Cities partnerships Programme. It begins in Europe, with the aim of deepening UCL’s partnerships, expanding our networks and communicating our high-profile activity in global cities. We invited applications for the role of Academic Director, one per city, from UCL’s academic community. Applicants were asked to propose cities with which they already have significant links. Based on the strongest applications, our first two cities will be Rome and Paris. Activity in Rome is led by Dr Florian Mussgnug, from the School of European Languages, Culture & Society, and in Paris by Dr Claire Colomb from The Bartlett School of Planning.

The Cities partnerships Programme consists of three main strands: seed-funding for academic collaborations in research, teaching and learning; a series of public-facing events co-created with institutional partners and inspired by the seed-funded projects; and activities engaging the wider UCL network of students, alumni, schools and other partners.

Our focus on a city rather than a specific partner is unique for the sector. It means that UCL academics from any discipline are able to work with the partners they feel are the best in their field. Collaboratively, they will shape a coherent programme of activities, developing a broad programme of multidisciplinary research and education that is relevant and innovative.

The CpP will run in each city over three years so that we can establish long lasting impact. The small programme team will work with academics to develop partnerships which lead to joint appointments, research hubs, short courses, dual degrees, research fellowships, student mobility, publications, and access to bids for European funding.

Rome is a good place to start. More than 50 years after the Treaty of Rome, the Italian capital continues to represent European unity, as well as its current challenges. It is a fitting location to explore the Future of Europe – the theme for a series of academic events curated by Dr Mussgnug. We have a strong record of collaborations in Rome with high-ranking universities and other prestigious partners, and a growing network of colleagues, from archaeology to neuroscience with an interest in activity in the region.

Applications for Cities partnerships Programme seed-funding for collaborative projects in Rome are now open and the deadline to apply is 30 November. Further detail is available from the Global Engagement Office. Please do consider applying, and share the link with colleagues. Work will begin with partners in Paris in early 2019 with applications for seed-funding opening in the spring. We’ll be welcoming applications for an Academic Director who will identify a third city later next year.

  1. UCL has stepped up advocacy and UCL engagement in networks, platforms and policy

The third track in our European strategy has been to step up our support for EU research collaboration. We have encouraged our staff to take on coordination roles in collaborative research grants.  UCL has a rich history of academic collaboration across Europe and we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that this will continue; it is a non-negotiable part of our long term vision as a global university.

We’ve done this in a number of practical ways. Engaging with existing research partners, advocating effectively through networks and platforms, and supporting UCL academics in their funding bids, has helped  UCL to become the top-ranked HEI in all of Europe for Horizon 2020 collaborative projects.

We have increased our advocacy and lobbying on European issues which most affect the HE sector and the UK’s economy and society. These efforts are led by the Provost, not least in his roles as a member of LERU, as chair of the Russell Group’s EU Advisory Group, and the UK Universities Minister’s high level stakeholder working group on EU exit, universities, research and innovation.

Our academic community plays an important role in influencing and driving national and international policy around the Brexit debate. Members of UCL’s European Institute, Faculty of Laws and Department of Political Science in particular, like Professor Piet Eeckhout and others, have done a huge amount to inform and influence the debate on EU issues relevant to the Brexit negotiations. Dr Alan Renwick and Professor Meg Russell (UCL Constitution Unit) established the Independent Commission on Referendums, and published their findings in a 200-page report, which is the most comprehensive review of referendums in the past 20 years. They are engaging with policy makers to bring about legislative change that will improve a key aspect of our democratic process. A UCL-wide forum, the Brexit and Beyond Steering Group, has brought together colleagues from across UCL to help inform UK policy on Europe through our research since 2016.

UCL staff with connections in Whitehall and Westminster, like Professor Graeme Reid (and I), contribute through those channels, speaking at conferences and seminars as well as private meetings and hosting visits to UCL by UK and other EU Ministers and senior officials involved in the Brexit negotiations. UCL colleagues also play an important role through sitting on bodies such as the Campaign for Science and Engineering, the Government’s high level stakeholder group , the Council of Research England and the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

I would welcome your comments on this triple track European strategy, in particular ideas for expanding it or making it more effective as the Brexit crunch gets ever closer.

Best wishes,

Dame Nicola Brewer
Vice Provost International

[1] In 2016, our figures show that that UCL academics collaborated on journal articles with colleagues from over one thousand European organisations, including more than 475 universities.

Championing academic freedom in Europe

By ucypnmb, on 8 May 2018

Dr Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost InternationalIn my last VP view I wrote that a global strategic focus will not constrain UCL’s academic freedom and creativity. We have started to think how our Global Engagement Strategy could do better than that, and actively champion academic freedom. And we will start with Europe, for obvious reasons.

Recent criticism of universities (including UCL) in the media, and being on the Advisory Board of UCL’s Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), made me think about why it seems increasingly hard for people to see the incredible social benefits universities bring. Professor Michael Ignatieff, President of the Central European University, helped answer that question in his keynote at this year’s CGHE conference. You can watch his inspiring and challenging talk on ‘Academic freedom and the future of Europe’ in this video.

Prof Ignatieff argues that academic freedom is a core European value and a right that protects us all, not a privilege of the professorial elite as it is sometimes misrepresented. His description of universities as “counter-majoritarian institutions” – as vital to society as a free press and an independent judiciary, in counter-balancing majority governments – struck a particular chord with me. Democracy should not be equated with majoritarianism. I saw the risks of that, at first hand, in South Africa. In the UK, the “the will of the people” mantra, after the EU referendum, implied a majoritarian interpretation.

In a recent blog post for WonkHE: ‘By 2030, will universities ‘walk fast and alone – or walk far and together’?, I explored what higher education leaders could do for the best at a time when both the public benefit of universities and the benefits of globalisation are disputed.

UCL's Cara student ambassador Miriam Matthiesson with current Cara Fellow Dr Naif BezwanThis includes promoting the freedom to share knowledge and collaborate, which was part of UCL’s founding ethos. Ways in which we continue to do that include UCL’s longstanding partnership with Cara (the Council for At Risk Academics). Through that partnership, we support academics who have been unable to continue their work in their home countries. One example is Dr Naif Bezwan, from Turkey, and you can read UCL’s Cara student ambassador Miriam Matthiessen’s feature about Dr Bezwan here.

Continued appetite for European collaboration

UCL now has nearly 200 European Research Council grantees and has published more than 24,000 papers with EU partners over the past five years. It is inspiring how UCL academics, at all stages of their careers, seem to have a natural reflex to seek out international collaborators. The explanation colleagues give me is that science (in the widest sense) is inherently global. Science has no nationality, as Imran Khan from the Wellcome Trust reminded us during a panel discussion with the Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation at UCL last month.

In the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, 15 early career researchers are studying the rise of right-wing populism in post-communist Europe as part of the EU-funded FATIGUE project, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks. These networks aim to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early stage researchers to convert their knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit.

UCL academics are helping to increase independent research capability around the world in many other ways. You may have heard about two successful Horizon 2020 Teaming projects underway: RISE and the Discoveries Centre for Regenerative and Precision Medicine.

RISE is the first research centre in Cyprus focusing on interactive media, smart systems and emerging technologies, aiming to become a centre of excellence empowering knowledge and technology transfer in the region. UCL’s team of Alastair Moore (UCL Advances), Professors Anthony Steed and Niloy Mitra (Department of Computer Science), Michael Browne and Martin Scott (European Research & Innovation) and Peter Reid (London Technology Network) are collaborating with the three public universities of Cyprus, the Municipality of Nicosia and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics.

UCL academics at the UK launch of the Discoveries centreThe Discoveries team working with a consortium of Portuguese Universities is led by Professor Jonathan Knowles, (UCL Eastman Dental Institute), with Ivan Wall (Department of Biochemical Engineering), Giampietro Schiavo (Institute of Neurology), Andreas Schätzlein (School of Pharmacy), Vivek Mudera (Division of Surgery), Richard Day (Division of Medicine), Tim McHugh (Division of Infection and Immunity) and Dr Jane Kinghorn (Translational Research Office). This multi-site venture is aimed at enhancing regenerative medicine research in Portugal, and launched in February this year.

Strengthening partnerships and dialogues

UCL and Belgium’s KU Leuven have a number of collaborations, the strongest of which is in neuroscience. This year, UCL’s Faculty of Brain Sciences signed a Memorandum of Understanding with KUL to undertake research and education in the field of dementia and related neurodegenerative diseases. This will include vital work on areas such as developing a single cell brain atlas of Alzheimer’s disease, humanized models for Alzheimer Disease, neuroinflammation and drug screening. The collaboration is led by Prof Bart de Strooper, who along with Prof John Hardy, won this year’s prestigious Brain Prize.

The Brain Prize is awarded annually by one of Denmark’s largest commercial foundations, The Lundbeck Foundation, and it was unprecedented for academics from the same institution – UCL – to receive the world-renowned accolade two years in a row. Last year’s winners were Prof Ray Dolan and Prof Peter Dayan, who lead the joint Max Planck-UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, which has recently submitted its renewal proposal. The collaboration builds on the strong, multi-faculty partnership UCL has with Germany’s Max Planck Society. International recognition of UCL’s pioneering research is good news for the academics concerned, for our university – and for public understanding of the social benefits research brings.

The London Diplomatic Science Club met at UCL UCL also continues to encourage open dialogue on science and research with our European neighbours. Earlier this year UCL academics joined scientific attachés from 15 European Embassies for a London Diplomatic Science Club event to discuss future scientific and research collaboration in Europe, as well as attending the popular talk mentioned above by Carmen Vela, Spanish Minister for Research, Development and Innovation, on the role of research and innovation in creating opportunities for growth and prosperity. That event was jointly organised by UCL’s European Institute, Public Policy team and the Global Engagement Office (GEO). Carmen pointed out that, after the US, the UK is the country with which Spain most often collaborates, and that UCL is Spain’s top collaborator in the UK.

Dr Aline Courtois’ (UCL Institute of Education) fascinating CGHE report on “Higher education and Brexit: current European perspectives” is a sobering reminder of the importance of universities in Europe continuing to seek out new opportunities to work together.

What GEO is doing to help

As Brexit gets closer, GEO continues to prioritise strengthening UCL engagement with European colleagues, supporting UCL academics to connect with European colleagues who share their passion for knowledge and dedication to excellence.

Academics of any discipline wanting to kick-start or strengthen their collaborations in Europe (or further afield) can now apply to the Global Engagement Funds, which are open until 17 May. You can see some examples of how previous winners used their funding on our website here.

Dr Florian Mussgnug (School of European Languages, Culture and Society) is leading the Rome Multidisciplinary Research Hub, supported by GEO, which is fostering collaboration with Italian partners to encourage research excellence and international mobility across disciplines. See upcoming events here.

UCL and PSL launched new joint seed fundingUCL and Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres) recently launched new joint research seed funding to support activity across arts, humanities and social sciences. New collaborations will consider pressing global challenges such as ‘The global, the national, and the European in an age of populism’ and ‘Migration, race, religion, terror’.

GEO continues working closely with colleagues across the university as part of the Provost’s Brexit Mitigation Group. Look out for a Provost’s View next month which will focus on the exciting new Cities Programme that UCL is launching to support continued academic collaboration with our European counterparts.

Regional news in brief

East Asia:

  • We’ll soon be announcing the winners of this year’s UCL-Peking University (PKU) strategic partner funds. The panel received so many strong applications that they have decided to fund more than last year – 14 collaborative projects across 7 faculties. The reports received from last year’s projects look really promising – one example is Professor Nick Greene’s (UCL GOS Institute of Child Health) work on neural tube defects.
  • Following the successful PKU presidential delegation visit to UCL in March, last week I attended PKU’s 120th anniversary celebrations and the World University President’s Forum.
  • Fukushima Prefecture, with which UCL has a longstanding collaboration, hosted a delegation including staff and students from UCL’s Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction, EPICentre and UCL Academy. Read UCL student Conor Galbraith’s great blog about the experience.

South Asia:

  • Professor Sarah Hawkes at Difficult Dialogues 2018UCL academics Professor Sarah Hawkes (UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health), Professor David Osrin (UCL Institute for Global Health), and Professor Margaret O’Brien (UCL Institute for Education) joined policy makers, development experts, NGOs and grassroots workers to help shape gender equality policy at the 2018 Difficult Dialogues forum in Goa.
  • UCL’s MAPS faculty hosted a visit from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics this month to discuss ongoing collaboration.
  • This September, Provost will lead a delegation visit to meet key partners in India including the Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

North and Latin America:

  • UCL has been strengthening its engagement in Mexico this year – Pro-Vice-Provost (Latin America) Professor Alejandro Madrigal led a visit to key partners, and GEO’s Alejandro Moreno and Chris Cook presented on the Global Engagement Funds at the North American Center for Collaborative Development (NACCD) conference, and promoted UCL’s Summer School on Mexican radio.
  • After the Provost hosted a University of Toronto delegation to develop health science collaborations in January, UCL The Bartlett ran a joint workshop with UoT on Cities in April.
  • I welcomed Professor Pericles Lewis, the new Vice President (Global Strategy) and Deputy Provost (International Affairs) at Yale University to learn about Yale’s new global engagement strategy and to explore collaborations in Philosophy, Private Law, Neuroscience and Psychiatry and Material Sciences.
  • GEO is planning an academic-led visit to Chile in July and we would love to hear about your activity there – in particular with Universidad de Chile and La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Please contact Rachel Hall to share details of your collaborations.

Africa and Middle East:

  • The National Museum of Qatar. Image: Karen ExellUCL Qatar are undertaking one of the largest research projects in the region on National Museums and the Public Imagination. Led by Dr Karen Exell and a team of international and Qatar-based researchers and academics, the project aims to develop an understanding of the public’s social and cultural perceptions and evaluate the impact of the National Museum of Qatar across Qatari nationals and expatriates. More than 1,500 respondents have taken part in a longitudinal study recording perceptions, values and cultural identity.
  • The first joint UCL-Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) Symposium, ‘Towards HIV and TB elimination in South Africa,’ took place in February.
  • April saw the UK launch of the RELIEF Centre, a transdisciplinary research collaboration led by Professor Henrietta Moore (UCL Institute for Global Prosperity) that focuses on how to build a prosperous and inclusive future for communities affected by mass displacement.

South East Asia and Australasia:

  • The UCL delegation meeting partners in SingaporeUCL professors Nick Phelps, Pro-Vice-Provost for South East Asia and Australasia, and Claudio Stern, Vice-Dean (International) for Medical Sciences, joined a delegation visit to leading institutions in Singapore to build on existing UCL research collaborations. As part of that visit, I also attended the Asia-Pacific Association for International Education Presidents’ Roundtable, discussing how universities can prepare students for the future workplace.


  1. Dr Naif Bezwan with Miriam Matthiesen
  2. Discoveries centre launch
  3. London Diplomatic Science Club event at UCL
  4. UCL-PSL funding launch
  5. Professor Sarah Hawkes at Difficult Dialogues 2018
  6. National Museum of Qatar: Dr Karen Exell
  7. UCL delegation in Singapore

What value is our Global Engagement Strategy adding?

By ucypnmb, on 23 January 2018

In 2017, UCL academics delivered breakthrough research across a broad range of disciplines: from new insights into the health impacts of climate change, to the discovery of the world’s oldest fossil and most recently, the successful trial of a drug to reduce the deadly Huntington’s Disease protein. In all of these cases international collaborators played an important role.

Most, if not all of those collaborations would happen whether UCL had a Global Engagement Strategy or not. So, what value does having a strategy add, and how does the Global Engagement Office (which cost UCL £2.5m in 2016/17, only 0.2% of overall annual expenditure) support UCL’s academic mission?


Helping put knowledge to work globally

By ucypnmb, on 11 October 2017


In the Global Engagement Office (GEO), we’ve been taking stock of the past academic year and planning for the new one. In July, we reported to Council on the progress of Principal Theme 6 of UCL 2034, the Global Engagement Strategy (GES). This week, we were due to present our global achievements and challenges at Academic Board but a busy agenda meant that we didn’t get the opportunity.

Council wanted to know the cost of implementing the GES, both through the work GEO does directly and through the other central offices like Student and Registry Services and Student Recruitment Marketing. The answer is £4.9m, which is less than half a percent of UCL’s overall expenditure.