To ensure the University of Wollongong continues to grow as an international educational institution and increase its global impact, it has recently partnered with other like-minded leading universities within the University Global Partnership Network (UGPN).
Established in 2011, the UGPN is an international consortium of selected research-intensive universities focussed on turning ideas into action by developing sustainable world-class research, education and knowledge transfer.
UOW joined the Network in November 2015, alongside founding partners North Carolina State University in USA, the University of São Paulo in Brazil and the University of Surrey in the UK.
As the newest member, UOW hosted the UGPN annual meeting (29th Feb-3rd March 2016) which brought together senior researchers and academics to collaborate on issues of global importance, explore ways to improve teaching methods, share research resources and create new opportunities for international student and staff exchanges.
“The consensus is it’s been the best conference we’ve ever had,” University of Surrey Pro-Vice Chancellor International and Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Vincent Emery said.
“Everyone has been very interactive, exploring the opportunities for the whole network to move forward and I think the University of Wollongong is a key player in that future,” Professor Emery said.
The conference included presentations, workshops, tours and networking events and established a solid foundation for UOW’s participation in the network.
UOW Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Judy Raper said the conference lived up to expectations, revealing synergies and collaboration opportunities with current research projects.
“The University of Surrey has been undertaking research into the life cycle of shipping, but hadn’t considered the environmental impact of sea anchors - an area UOW has been researching.
“We saw a great deal of interest in our research in the field of wearable sensors.
“Australians are now using 4G mobile communications technology, but the University of Surrey has a 5G test bed. We’re looking at using this facility to test the compatibility of our sensors with the next generation of mobile communications technology.
“There was also considerable interest in research into the effect of climate change on Australia’s mangrove forests and the role of the ‘blue carbon economy’. We’re now exploring how we can extend that work internationally.”
Another research area attracting attention was Early Start - UOW’s revolutionary initiative that combines research, teaching and community engagement to deliver better outcomes for children.
USP Director of International Cooperation, Professor Maricio S. Baptista, said he was impressed by Early Start’s interdisciplinary approach and the community outreach activities.
“If we work with our kids we are assuring the future of ourselves and of our country. For Brazil this is perhaps the weakest part of our society and an area where as a country we have to improve,” he said.
As well as research collaboration, the conference gave partners insight into the experience on offer for international exchange students, a particular area of interest for North Carolina State University Vice Provost for International Affairs, Bailian Li.
“The facilities at UOW are excellent, especially your Innovation Campus which is very similar to North Carolina State’s Science Park.
“Your main campus is a lovely campus; almost like a little mini city. All this is a big plus because campus life is so important for our students when choosing an international exchange destination. We currently have a waiting list of students wanting to come to Wollongong and I’ve already spoken to UOW about expanding our exchange program,” he said.
The conference also marked the opening of the call for submissions for the next round of the UGPN Research Collaboration Fund, which has provided seed funding for 27 projects over the last three years resulting in a total research investment in excess of $US3.1 million.
The next annual meeting of the UGPN network will be hosted by USP in Brazil in February/March 2017. Further information is available on the UGPN site.