Enhancing our International reputation

We are seeing some exciting initiatives in international activities within the College. 

The Vice Chancellor recently announced the £2 million ‘Priestley PhD Fellowships’ programme designed to attract high quality postgraduate researchers to split their study between Birmingham and Melbourne.  Our agreement with Melbourne also provides a £100,000 collaborative fund to encourage close working between academics in each university and increase exchanges between the UK and Australia. 

Elsewhere, we are currently looking at how we can develop new, and strengthen existing, collaborations with top universities in Japan, with a focus on Tsukuba, the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) and Kyoto. Colleagues in the School of Chemistry are working to develop links with IIT Bombay and also the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Thiruvananthapuram.  In addition, we are maintaining and developing our close relationship with University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign via the BRIDGE fund and we are currently seeking applicants for the inaugural BRIDGE postdoctoral Fellows.

However, I am also aware that there are many examples of excellent research being undertaken throughout the College where colleagues have taken the initiative and formed their own collaborations that are delivering first-rate outputs.  The College is very keen to encourage existing and new initiatives, particularly where the research is aligned with the College’s key strengths.  To do that, we are happy to support colleagues in their efforts, whether that is by introducing people, identifying funding sources, or offering financial support for mobility. 

I would also draw your attention to a series of international fact sheets that Sally Wiley in RIS has produced.  With a separate sheet for different countries (Australia, the US, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Norway, Netherlands), the documents provide tips and advice on the benefits of engaging, suggested routes to connect, advice on building relationships, funding schemes and unlocking funding.  I would recommend them as a great place to start if you are thinking about developing research collaborations overseas.

In summary, the College is keen to enhance the international reputation of individual Schools, the College, and hence the University, by identifying and facilitating new opportunities, and by supporting existing collaborations.  That could be through research, or by attracting high quality students at UG and PGT levels as well.  And our international collaborations should not just be limited to academics.  We recognise that Professional Services staff can seek out and develop international links that will bring benefits to the College as well, and so I would encourage anyone with an idea for international collaboration to get and touch.

John Bridgeman

EPS Director of International Strategy