Forging links with South America

Professor Colin Grant, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Internationalisation), has just led a multi-university delegation to South America for the UUK Higher Education International Unit.

Delegates from 14 universities visited Ecuador and Peru on the week-long research partnership and education visit to identify opportunities to collaborate with South American institutions and partner in the development of its higher education system.

In Ecuador, with the strong support of the Ambassador and his staff, the delegation met with SENESCYT (Ministry of Higher Education, Science & Technology) Secretary Rene Ramirez, Minister Guillaume Long and a number of other senior government officials alongside representatives from several universities who want to develop relationships with UK institutions.

The collaborations with Ecuador’s new public universities will focus on developing their research capability, designing postgraduate courses and sharing the UK’s expertise in industry relations.

A project to develop Ecuador’s limited PhD programme was discussed, as well as measures to open up opportunities for Ecuadorian academics by increasing their fluency in English.

Student exchange programmes that offer UK students the opportunity to spend time overseas were also identified as a potential activity with mutual benefits. There are particular interests for Bath at the Galápagos research institute of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.

Professor Grant said he is looking forward to increasing collaborative research between the two countries: “As more graduates complete the SENESCYT scholarship programmes in the UK and return to Ecuador we expect to see evidence of these new UK-Ecuador connections through continued collaborative research between graduates and their supervisors. In today's world, mobility is the fuel of collaboration.”

In Peru, now a UK government preferred partner, the group met with officials from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Production, as well as the Ambassador and senior staff at the British Embassy and reopened British Council. Discussions focused on the roll-out of the new Pronabec-UUK agreement for fully funded Masters scholarships to study at UK universities, research and innovation collaboration and exchange.

During the three-day visit the group also met with a wide-range of leading Peruvian universities to identify partnership projects and develop stronger links. Particular interests were identified at the country’s leading business school, ESAN, and with the Ministry.

The visit made national headlines in both countries. Professor Grant was interviewed by El Comercio, the Ecuadorian equivalent of the Financial Times; the business magazine Numbers; America TV (Peru), one of Latin America’s main broadcasters; and the ‘RPP Noticias’ morning radio show, Peru’s equivalent of BBC Radio 4. He was also interviewed by the leading Lima daily La República.

Professor Grant said: “The governments in both countries have huge ambitions for their higher education systems, a clear commitment to improving educational opportunities for all of their citizens, and a bold vision of how to make that a reality.”

“We were very well received in both countries, and we now have a strong foundation in place to build the strong partnerships needed to achieve this.”

From left: Nigel Seaton, Abertay University and Professor Colin Grant interviewed in the RPP Noticias studio

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