U21:Connect - January 2016

19 January 2016
The latest news and items of interest to staff and students across the Universitas 21 network.

Welcome to the January edition of U21 Connect, featuring all the latest news and items of interest from the Universitas 21 network.


U21 News

AGM 2016 Registration Open!

Registration for the 2016 Annual Network Meeting and Presidential Symposium, hosted this year by the National University of Singapore. All Presidents and Vice Chancellors of U21 member universities, along with U21 Managers, are invited to attend this annual opportunity to meet with peers to discuss matters of importance to the network and to shape the forthcoming year's agenda. A full programme will be available soon, please see the event page on the U21 website via the link below for more information on hotels and transport as well as preliminary information on meetings and social events.

AGM 2016 - Registration


McGill Researchers Honoured by Quebec Science

Québec Science magazine has selected its 10 Discoveries of the Year as part of its prestigious annual honours list, three of which were led by McGill researchers. Thomas Szkopek, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Guillaume Gervais, Department of Physics were recognised for their work on black phosphorus. Jeffrey Mogil, Department of Psychology was honoured for his work into pain circuitry and the spinal cord, whilst Christine McCusker, Department of Paediatrics and Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, was recognized for her research into allergies and the immune system.

McGill Honours



Educational Innovation

New EI Cluster Project - U21 EI Teaching Practice Survey

Within the U21 network, all of our member institutions are committed to evidence-based enhancements of teaching and learning practice. By collecting data on a large-scale survey across the network, we seek to establish a baseline of where things are prior to commencing a particular strategy or initiative and to track progress after a period of implementation. Specifically, we want to learn: What practices are faculty using in their teaching and in what combinations and proportions? What are their attitudes towards teaching and learning? What are their views on the institutional climate and culture around teaching and learning? Using a survey developed by UBC, this survey will be customized for U21 institutions to opt-in to delivering, with appropriate customisation to reflect local terminology and organisational structure and language.  For further information, please contact Lavinia Winegar-Gott:




Verification of the Face Validity of EI Steering Group’s Teaching Framework

This project seeks to test the appropriateness (face validity and fitness-for-purpose) of the proposed U21 conceptual framework for evaluating teaching performance with voluntary key stakeholders from amongst U21 member institutions. Specifically, the project will explore stakeholders’ perceptions of the appropriateness, relative importance and comprehensiveness of the various dimensions of teaching included in the framework.  Project Outcome: A Conceptual Framework for Teaching that can be confidently used across the U21 Network (as its face validity and fitness-for –purpose will have been established via this research) as the basis for developing:

  1. Indicators, measures, and standards for evaluating teaching as part of academic promotion processes
  2. A pool of individuals within and across institutions who could act as expert peer assessors of evidence submitted in relation to teaching in promotion applications
  3. Taining and development opportunities for staff to become recognised (certified?) members of this U21 expert panel of assessors of teaching.

For further information; please contact Lavinia Winegar-Gott: Lavinia.winegar-gott@universitas21.com

Educational Innovation



Researcher Engagement

RE Cluster Workshop

The main event for the RE Cluster is the annual meeting which will take place at the University of Maryland on 3-4 May. Last year the DDoGS held a pre-meeting Workshop on Postgraduate Student Supervision and following the success of that meeting they will again be hosting a pre-meeting Workshop. This year the theme will be ‘Doctoral Mobility’ and will be held on 2 May. The workshop will be open to colleagues across all member institutions. Further details will be added to the workshop webpage via the link below as they become available and registration will open in the near future:

RE Cluster Workshop - Registration


The benefits of academic blogging

An interesting article on the Times Higher Education website (LINK) from Pat Thompson at the University of Nottingham discusses how scholarly blogging can not only help you to communicate your research to a wide and varied audience, potentially enhancing its impact, but can also help with your academic writing. With blogging fast becoming an established form of academic writing, alongside the traditional journal articles and manuscripts, this article outlines seven reasons why blogging can make your academic writing better.

If you want to put these seven steps into practice, why not write an article for the U21 blog – Thinking International

For further information contact Ben Griffiths in the U21 Secretariat via ben.griffiths@universitas21.com.


Student Experience

Short-Term Mobility opportunities at U21 members announced

The SE cluster has produced a summary of short-term mobility opportunities open to U21 students by our members. The new document provides an overview of summer schools, research placements and other short term opportunities, as well as the great advantages offered by our members.

To view and download the summary, please follow the link below or go to the Student Experience page of the U21 website and see the Short-Term Mobility page

Short-term Mobility


Registration deadlines approaching for Global Ingenuity Challenge and Student Leaders’ Meeting

The 3rd U21 Student Leaders’ Meeting will take place from the University of Connecticut in April 2016. The event provides an opportunity for student leaders to meet face-to-face, with a focus on the theme “Inclusion and Diversity”. Deadline for registrations is 1 February 2016.

The 2nd Global Ingenuity Challenge will be held in March 2016. The competition challenges teams of students to come up with solutions to a real life problem, with this year’s focus on the Challenge of Sustainable Housing. The final date for member universities to confirm participation is 29 January 2016, although the final number of teams submitted need only be confirmed at the start of the challenge.

Further information on both events is available via the Events sections of the U21 website or by clicking on the links below for details and how to register:

Student Leaders' Meeting

Global Ingenuity Challenge


Work on Quality Standards on Student Mobility underway

Staff from 7 members universities have started to develop a set of quality standards in student mobility that are applicable to a global group of research intensive universities, thinking about the intersections of student experience and mobility specifically relating to leadership, academic integration, employability and intercultural understandings. We will be working in task groups related to student mobility and aim to present a complete draft by August 2016. We welcome broader participation in this project, if you are interested in joining the group; please contact Ninna Makrinov in the U21 Secretariat: ninna.makrinov@universitas21.com

Student Experience


People and places

Universitas 21 Members receive nine awards in Queen’s New Year Honours List!

Four U21 members have claimed 9 awards in the Queen’s New Year Honours List, including 4 Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) awards in recognition of outstanding service to higher education and research as well as professional services. Academics and professional support staff from both the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh claimed three awards each, with the University of Birmingham picking up two awards and the University of Nottingham being awarded one.

Please follow the link below for the full list of recipients:

U21 Honours


Four UBC Professors awarded Order of Canada Honours

Governor General David Johnston has announced 69 appointments to the Order of Canada in the New Year Honours List, which included four UBC Professors. Recipients at UBC included Prof. Wade Davis, Professor of anthropology, for his work to promote the conservation of the natural world as well as Mathematics Professor Prof. Nassif Ghoussoub, for services to Science, education and mathematics.  Prof. Joseph Boyden, Professor of Creative Writing, was also recognised for his services to literature and creative writing, whilst Prof. Olav Slaymaker, Professor Emeritus of Geography at UBC was recognised for services to geology.

U21 Honours