further & higher education

Developing International Research Partnerships Across Higher Education

further & higher education

08:45 - 16:00

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Central London


This forum aims to provide an arena for universities to learn how to expand their research capabilities and discuss barriers to developing international partnerships. Participants will gain knowledge and key takeaways from UK Research and Innovation among other sector leaders with regards to the latest funding and support available. Attendees will also hear from key research institutions on what is being done to foster international collaboration on key research projects. Furthermore, a range of case studies will offer best practice guidance on establishing and strengthening successful research partnerships, and discuss the potential impact on international research partnerships from the UK’s planned departure from the European Union.


This Forum is designed for the Higher Education sector, Research Councils and Funding Bodies. Typical job titles will include:

  • Academic Development Managers
  • Chancellors
  • Directors of Global Engagement
  • Directors of Research and Enterprise
  • Funding Officers
  • Global Partnerships Manager
  • Head of International Partnerships
  • Lecturers
  • Principals
  • Research Development Managers
  • Research Fellows

The Forum is also open to the Private sector in order to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Jacqui Williams, Head of Partnerships and Programmes, UKRI International Development Team, UK Research and Innovation
  • Dr Neil Kemp, International Higher Education Consultant and Board Member, Council for Education in the Commonwealth
  • Dr Trung Duong, School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Queen’s University Belfast 
  • Leina Shi, Head of Global Engagement, University of Sussex
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Professor Alex Hughes, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement), University of Westminster (invited)


Morning Keynote: Outlining the Landscape of International Research Partnerships in Higher Education

  • Highlighting the range of funding initiatives available for universities to develop international research partnerships
  • Examining the evolving opportunities provided through international research partnerships
  • Analysing some of the challenges facing UK universities in continuing international partnerships after Brexit and the impact this could have on future collaborations
  • Creating forward-thinking research strategies to prepare for upcoming changes to the UK research landscape

Dr Neil Kemp, International Higher Education Consultant and Board Member, Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: The Future of International Research Partnerships Within Higher Education

  • Ensuring that the UK maintains its position as a world-leading research hub through increased international engagement with universities and performance-based, institution-focused funding to meet national priorities and global challenges
  • Boosting global collaboration through the new ‘UKRI Science, Research and Academia’ scheme that encourages international researchers, scientists and academics to come to the UK for up to two years
  • Outlining the positive role and impact that the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund that has provided over £680 million in funding since 2012 has had on international research collaborations
  •  Working with HEI’s  to support the scaling up of existing internationally collaborative research relationships between English and International Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) through the £4 million International Investment Initiative (i3)
  • Understanding the factors required for successful international research collaboration and the significance of Research England’s role in supporting this

Jacqui Williams, Head of Partnerships and Programmes, UKRI International Development Team, UK Research and Innovation (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Promoting International Collaboration and Supporting the UK Businesses to Go Global

  • Clarifying the role of universities in driving innovation with UK businesses internationally by sharing an understanding of partner countries and their markets
  • Building upon the strong research base already established in the UK by working with businesses to commercialise research opportunities, for instance guiding emerging technologies through a comprehensive process to ensure market success
  • Delivering Newton Fund prizes which give UK businesses a chance to work with overseas partners to jointly develop innovative commercial solutions, resulting in a total UK investment of £735 million from 2014 to 2021
  • Nurturing new partnerships by working with the Knowledge Transfer Network to build strong foundations for successful international collaboration

Samantha Riches, Head Programme Management, Newton Fund, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Strengthening Global Engagement Through Partnership Schemes and Funding

Leina Shi, Head of Global Engagement, University of Sussex (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Developing an Outstanding International Research Partnership; Newton Prize Winner Perspective

  • Exploring the benefits of research partnerships between Queen’s University Belfast and Duy Tan University, for instance between 2007 and 2018 the UK and Vietnam produced 1,815 joint research papers
  • Identifying five priority research areas of mutual interest between the UK and Vietnam: Health and life sciences, agriculture, environmental resilience and energy security, future cities and digital innovation and creativity
  • Designing a communications system that works in extreme weather and natural disasters, worth £200,000, helping to ‘Build a Foundation for Sustainable Development: Networked Societies for the Cities of Tomorrow’
  • Sharing success over the past three years, including the Newton Fund disbursing nearly £5 million over 15 schemes and being involved in different Newton Fund research projects with India, Turkey and outlining future plans for UK and Vietnamese university research

Dr Trung Duong, School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Queen’s University Belfast (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Creating and Maximising Opportunities for Sustainable International Research Collaboration

  • Providing proactive international research support, with dedicated guidance and support through its Research and Enterprise Development (RED) portal
  • Sharing how the University’s involvement in the Worldwide University Network has led to greater international collaboration and ensures future progress is made in this area
  • Promoting synergies between the University’s Institute for Advanced Studies and WUN, leading to cross-faculty interdisciplinary research, researcher mobility, and new projects
  • Outlining how the International Strategic Fund (ISF) supports researchers to develop sustainable research collaborations with an international partner by providing around 30 awards each year with an average grant of £2500 per project

Dr Susan Jim, Institute for Advanced Studies/Worldwide University Network Manager, University of Bristol (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Overcoming Challenges in Partnership Development to Increase UK Research Excellence

  • Offering an overview of the UK’s ODA funded research portfolio under the UK Aid Strategy
  • Outlining DfID’s commitment to advancing society via international research collaborations through the Research Review, BEIS Global Challenges Research Fund, Newton Fund, and ROSS Fund
  • Working with HEI’s to maximise the impact of research and sharing best practice ODA funded research that has transformed lives throughout the world
  • Exploring current opportunities and barriers to developing impactful, long-term research collaborations between UK and international HEI’s

Dr Julia Kemp, Team Leader, Director of Research Office, Department for International Development (DfID) (invited)


Special Keynote: Supporting Mutually-Beneficial Research and Cultural Relations Overseas

  • Developing cultural relations between UK HE institutions and overseas partners to achieve mutually-beneficial partnerships and greater connectivity
  • Driving economic development and social welfare through science and innovation partnerships which are co-funded and bilaterally operated, built on common strategic aims
  • Creating sustainable dialogue and deeper relationships with countries such as Russia and Iran despite diplomatic difficulties, and understanding the need to take different approaches
  • Supporting universities to create partnerships through the ‘International Education Services’ programme, such as by answering bespoke questions about the HE operating environment across international settings

John Bramwell, Acting Director of Education (Policy), British Council (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Developing and Implementing an Institutional International Strategy to Effectively Champion International Research Partnerships

  • Discussing the importance of research partnerships in the King’s International Strategy to 2020, and its clear commitment to strengthening these
  • Showcasing over 300 partnership agreements with institutions around the world and offering joint PhD programmes from 20% of its departments
  • Making activity between institutions as beneficial as possible for the academics and students involved by ensuring that the majority of partnerships are managed at faculty or departmental level
  • Offering a variety of partnership opportunities to suit the needs of students and academics from both institutions, such as joint workshops, symposia and conferences, as well as longer-term research collaboration
  • Uniting the university’s international activity under one framework and implementing the strategy effectively across faculties and through their global networks

Dr Yuchun Chiang Mathews, Partnerships Manager (Funding & Impact, Australia), Global Engagement, King’s College London (invited)


Case Study: Establishing a Robust, Forward-Thinking International Research Strategy

  • Outlining Keele University’s commitment to international research in its strategic plan, ‘Our Vision 2020’
  • Emphasising the importance of maintaining an innovative research environment that operates ‘without borders’
  • Highlighting the importance of international collaboration and working with international partners to increase publications with international collaborators from 35% to 45% and to increase the rate of grant applications with international partners by 10% per annum
  • Providing practical support in establishing international partnerships through a dedicated Research and Innovation Support Enhancement (RaISE) team

Professor Shane O’Neill, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Advancement and Global Engagement) and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Keele (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*Programme Subject to Change

The UK produces 15.2% of the world’s most highly-cited articles, and ranks first by research quality in terms of field-weighted citation impact, according to Universities UK. As a result of this UK universities are world-renowned for their research, through which they make a major contribution to the British economy and society in general.  As plans for the UK to leave the European Union develop, British universities will need to be clear on what this means for their current partnerships and future opportunities for collaboration.

The government recognises the importance of the UK remaining a world leader when it comes to research quality and output and as such provides numerous international funding initiatives through Research England and the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) Councils. With an overall research funding budget of £6 billion, Research England works with HEI’s to support them with such issues as double jeopardy, and aims to make it as easy as possible for international research partnerships to flourish. The Newton Fund, as part of the Official Development Assistance (ODA), provides an annual £1 million fund to incentivise innovative research projects that promote economic development and social welfare in Newton Fund partner countries. Furthermore, Research England provides funding for the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (£680 million since 2012) and the International Investment Initiative (£4 million pa) that aim to further the impact and effectiveness of UK/International research collaborations.

In July 2018, Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes announced that the new UKRI-Science, Research and Academia scheme is being added to the Tier 5 visa route. The scheme is designed to encourage international researchers, scientists and academics into the UK for a period of two years in a move designed to enhance UK research projects and evidence the UK’s commitment to global collaboration.

If the UK is to retain its status for world-class research, HE institutions must recognise that more can be done to support and facilitate further international research collaboration. It is essential that universities are aware of the latest funding opportunities available to them and learn how to increase their international research outputs so that UK research is less reliant on EU funding. Having clear, forward-thinking research strategies in place and learning from successful examples of international research collaboration will allow institutions to prioritise international research partnership agreements and prepare effectively for upcoming changes to the UK research landscape.

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