U21:Connect - July 2016

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

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



Registration Open for U21 Senior Leaders’ Meeting

Registration is now open for the U21 Senior Leaders’ Meeting hosted by the University of Edinburgh on 5 – 7 October 2016. For full details including hotel information, visa information as well as preliminary details of the programme, please follow the link below. The event is open to Senior Leaders from all member universities, to register your attendance for this event, please complete the questions via the ‘Register Here’ link at the bottom of the event page. A full itinerary will be available shortly, please keep an eye on the website for further updates.

Senior Leaders’ Meeting 2016


NUS top Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings

The National University of Singapore has been named Asia’s top University in the latest Asia University Rankings published by the Times Higher Magazine (THE). This is the first time the university has been awarded the top position since the introduction of the Asia rankings in 2013. NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan said, “We are delighted that NUS has been recognised as the top Asian University in the latest rankings by the Times Higher Education. Together with NUS’ top placement for the past three years in the QS Asian Universities Ranking, these results affirm NUS’ strong reputation as a leading global university.

“Mr Phil Baty, the Editor of the THE rankings, said: “NUS stands as an example to the rest of Asia – indeed, to the rest of the world – in terms of how to attain world-class status. With innovative and driven leadership, backed by serious investment from government and private sector, and with a truly global outlook, NUS has risen to the top of the Asia University Rankings.

Five other U21 institutions featured in the Top 200, three of which featured in the top 20, including the University of Hong Kong (4), Korea University (=17) and Fudan University (19), Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranked =32 with the University of Delhi placing in 163.

Congratulations to NUS and all Asia members!



Nottingham VC leads sixth Life Cycle breast cancer research fundraiser

Professor Sir David Greenaway will lead a team of riders from the University of Nottingham across mainland Britain in a bid to raise £1 million for breast cancer research at the University. The Life Cycle 6 team will embark on the 1,400 mile journey across the UK in August in what will be their toughest challenge to date, having completed a previous five fundraising rides. Professor Sir David Greenaway, said: “It’s astounding that 10,000 women die from breast cancer around the world every week, but I know Nottingham is well-placed to make a difference. Over the last five Life Cycle rides we’ve ridden over 5,500 miles and raised more than £1.8 million for a range of causes – only made possible by extraordinary support.” So far Sir David has raised over £99,000, completing 99% of his personal fundraising target.

You can sponsor Sir David and the Life Cycle 6 team via the donation link on the University of Nottingham event page or via Sir David’s Just Giving page, please follow the links below for more on the ride, the route and how to donate:




UJ raises R60M for ‘missing middle’ students

The University of Johannesburg has risen over R60 Million for the ‘missing middle’ students this year; those who are "too rich" to qualify for NSFAS support, but too poor to afford fees and qualify for commercial loans. The fundraising campaign, launched in February, was the biggest ever undertaken by a South African institution In an ambitious bid to try and assist students who couldn’t afford to pay tuition fees on the heels of the #FeesMustFall movement that swept through the country. The University, in collaboration with the UJ Student Representative Council, has so far assisted 3,500 students by paying their registration fees and minimum initial payments for the 2016 academic year. Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation at UJ, said: “An educated society is good for our economy. It's good for social infrastructure and political infrastructure. This isn't just an investment in the individual; it’s an investment in the country. The more we educate our people‚ the better off we are as a society.”




Educational Innovation

U21 SOC nearing completion

The new U21 SOC is nearing completion; with full details available at www.universitas21.com/link/u21soc16. The next step is for the completed U21 SOC to go for final submission to FutureLearn who will then let us have the final registration dates.  These details will be made available to members as soon as we receive them.  The team at UCD will hold a webinar in September for those interested in learning more about the first iteration of the course and will also be available to meet partners face to face on the morning of Wednesday, 26th October, for those who want to discuss the module and/or are considering offering the module in the second (March '17) and third iteration.  This should suit those intending to attend the EI conference in Birmingham. For those interested in embedding the SOC as part of a larger module, please let Lavinia Winegar-Gott (lavinia.winegar-gott@universitas21.com) know, specifying when this module is to be run.


Researcher Engagement

Graduate Research Project Grants – call opens

The Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies (DDoGS) are piloting a new activity in place of the Graduate Research Conference. Graduate Research Project Grants will enable doctoral candidates to develop and implement international research collaborations within the U21 network. Projects can be in any discipline or cross-disciplinary and should aid the development of transferable skills for doctoral candidates, allowing them to work independently, as well as in teams, on activities that benefit their doctoral research. Projects will give doctoral candidates a global view of problem solving and group work, and facilitate cross-cultural working practices. At least 3 U21 members must be involved in the project from at least 2 countries.  Further details can be found in the application pack.

GRP Grants


Nottingham and PUC receive Newton-Picarte funding

Following discussions between the DDoGS representatives from the University of Nottingham (UoN) and Pontificia Católica de Chile (PUC), the Doctoral College at PUC and UoN Graduate School have been awarded funding by the Newton-Picarte programme to facilitate PUC to develop their support for doctoral candidates and supervisors, particularly in the areas of transferable skills, knowledge transfer, public engagement and doctoral supervision. Nottingham will be hosting a visit from PUC during July 2016 as part of this funding, with a reciprocal visit expected later in the year. It is also anticipated that the delivery of this programme will provide opportunities for Nottingham and PUC academics to develop collaborations and enhance the potential for longer term activities such as joint PhDs and researcher mobility. 


Johannesburg establishes new Postgraduate School

The University of Johannesburg has established their new Postgraduate School and appointed Professor Shireen Motala as the Senior Director. The School has grown out of the Postgraduate Centre which opened in 2010, under Prof Motala’s stewardship. The mandate of the new Postgraduate School is a result of a collaborative process aiming to balance international best practice with the unique requirements of UJ. The School’s vision is to be ‘A school of excellence dedicated to UJ postgraduate development and performance’. Prof Motala’s responsibilities in her new role include leading on University-wide strategy for improving enrolment at postgraduate level and providing comprehensive lifecycle support for postgraduate students; and ensuring the throughput of UJ postgraduate students improves. She will also join the UJ Executive Leadership Team.

UJ Postgraduate School


Student Experience

U21 Summer School takes place at SJTU

The U21 Summer School 2016 was held at Shanghai Jiao Tong University between 4 – 18 July, with the theme ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine and its Culture’. Sixty-six students and six members of staff from around the network were in attendance. After completing the online element of the course, the students travelled to SJTU for a week of activities and had the opportunity to engage in an exchange of cultures and experiences with fellow students from around the network. For more on the U21 Summer School please follow the link below:

U21 Summer School


People and places

Edinburgh VC to step down in 2017

Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea is to step down from his role as the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University in September 2017, 15 years after taking up his post. The University of Edinburgh will now begin the process of recruiting a successor. Professor O’Shea said it was an honour and a privilege to serve in the role: “I am extremely proud of what we as an institution have achieved over recent years, the success and growth that we have enjoyed have only been possible thanks to our very gifted students and highly-talented staff, as well as the tremendous backing we’ve received from our alumni, supporters and close friends across Scotland, the wider UK and the world. The university said Professor O’Shea had presided over a significant period of expansion and internationalisation since he took up the post in 2002.



UQ plant breeding expertise recognised globally

The University of Queensland’s expertise in plant breeding has been recognised by a A$3.5M grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to evaluate and improve breeding programmes in developing countries. UQ has been selected to implement the ‘Breeding Program Analysis Tool’ because of the University’s international reputation for excellence in plant breeding, particularly in tropical crops, and its experience in improving sorghum breeding in Ethiopia.

Many congratulations to UQ!