UCL News


Vice-Provost's View: Global Engagement Strategy - how's it going?

29 October 2015

You may be wondering what's been happening since we launched UCL's new

UCLglobal ucl.ac.uk/global/strategy/ges-2015.pdf" target="_self">Global Engagement Strategy (GES) in May. Here's a quick summary. You can find more detail on our website and by subscribing to our bimonthly newsletter, UCL Global News.

Our new strategy has attracted attention and comment from China and Japan to the US and Ecuador, and we're telling UCL's story of global engagement as an active part of the Provost's visits overseas, and through those of other members of SMT and the academic and professional services community. Professor Michael Arthur, Professor David Price, Professor Jo Wolff and I certainly did that when we were in the US last month. I encourage everyone to take copies of the one-page summary of the GES with them on international trips - it's a great conversation opener!

Restructure of the international team

Back in London, we've been restructuring the small international team. The Office for International Affairs, set up in 2010 to support our niche postgraduate overseas campuses and activities in Astana, Adelaide and Doha, will close on 31 October. It will be replaced by a new Global Engagement Office (GEO) led by me and made up of two teams - one to develop and facilitate global partnerships, the other to lead strategic planning and implementation of the GES - plus a fixed-term appointment to assist our overseas site in Qatar adjust to a more focused operation for the final five years of our contract there. (Our presence in Astana concluded in August; our partnership with the University of South Australia will replace a stand-alone campus in Adelaide by the end of 2017.)

To avoid confusion, UCL's International Office, responsible for recruiting international students, will be renamed to clarify that it deals with student recruitment and marketing and is part of the Communications & Marketing team, not GEO. GEO has been designed to be the strategic and policy 'hub' for coordinating activity to implement the GES, much of which will be led outside the GEO, by faculties and other professional services teams. So, for example, the ambition to increase student mobility, which is a key objective of the GES, will now be led from Student and Registry Services.

Focus of the Global Engagement Office

The small GEO team - there'll be about 18 of us when recruitment, now underway, is completed - will work closely with the seven new regional Pro-Vice-Provosts and the re-launched Regional Networks - communities of interest in particular parts of the world - that they chair:

· Africa and the Middle East

· East Asia

· Europe

· Latin America

· North America

· South Asia

· South East Asia.

The team will also work with the Vice-Deans (International) in each of our 11 faculties, eight of whom have now been appointed. The already established Europe Regional Network was the first to meet this term, on 2 October. We'll also work closely with the new Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), set up by the Faculties of Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences and led by IAS Director Professor Tamar Garb.

The point of all this activity is to deepen our knowledge and understanding of different parts of the world and of the various research, education and enterprise-led collaborations that UCL has with partners overseas. This knowledge will both help us tell our story better - how UCL is having global impact - and improve our partnership working so that we are more effective and have more global impact.

Consultation on improving our global impact

We've been consulting Deans and other colleagues on two particular ways of improving our global impact, leading to two papers which went to Council earlier this month. One was on our geographical priorities: if we want to have impact, we can't pretend that UCL at institutional level can do everything, everywhere (even though individual academics may well be doing something virtually everywhere, as our interactive map shows).

The other was about the governance framework, and related decision pathways, for choosing our global partners. We get approached almost every week by a university or business somewhere in the world wanting to partner with us. The Global Implementation Group, which meets once a term, reviews the list of those we say no (nicely) to, as well as those with whom we are developing links. You will soon be able to find both of these papers on our website. And we are in the process of preparing an online version of the governance framework, with guidance, template forms and case studies, to facilitate your and your department's international partnership activities.

I've saved probably the most interesting thing we're doing to implement the GES until last: we're bidding for money in the Budget Planning Round to support all of the priority actions set out in the GES. In particular, we want to set up 'Sea', 'Currents' and 'Anchor' Funds to support global collaboration at individual academic, faculty and cross-institutional levels - that could be organising academic workshops, conferences, visits with international partners - and much more.

The Sea Fund - to support Type 1 partnerships between individual academics - and the Currents Fund - to support Type 3 partnerships at faculty and cross-schools level - will be designed to provide 'match funding' with departments and faculties (Type 2 partnerships, at Faculty level, will be supported by that Faculty itself). The Anchor Fund will support our new Type 4 partnerships as they develop: we are currently exploring three - with Peking University, the Wellcome Trust Africa Centre and Yale University.

Working with colleagues across UCL

And even before GEO is set up, we are working with colleagues across UCL on the following initiatives:

· With the CLIE, launching the International Summer School for undergraduates (ISSU) in 2016

· With CAM, monitoring the diversity of our international student recruitment markets

· With DARO and others, considering a small, pilot overseas office to support visiting staff and students, raise our profile, develop our links with alumni and identify potential partners, students or donors

· With UCL C, increasing our international consultancy income

· With HR, exploring a set of international 'core competencies' and related training programmes for staff

· With Anthony Smith's office, including international activity in academic promotion criteria

· With CAM, identifying and implementing marketing 'quick wins' though a Task and Finish group chaired by Mark Sudbury, including a co-funded CAM/GEO/SLMS stakeholder perception survey.

Global engagement at UCL is really taking shape. If you want to know more, or get involved, get in touch.

Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International)

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