Image from 2019 UGPN conference of Australian, Brazilian, UK and USA flags on a deskflags

World-leading universities gather online to tackle global issues

World-leading universities gather online to tackle global issues

UGPN Virtual Conference 2021 drives research, education and knowledge exchange

Academics, professional staff and students from leading universities from the United Kingdom, United States of America, Brazil and Australia will gather online this week to collaborate on world-class research, education and knowledge exchange, to benefit and sustain people, planet, prosperity, and peace.

The University Global Partnership Network (UGPN) Virtual Conference 2021 (23-26 March, AEDT) brings together delegates from the four member universities – University of Surrey, North Carolina State University, University of Sao Paulo and University of Wollongong (UOW) – to engage with important global topics in higher education as well as key research areas for the network.

Hosted by UOW and chaired by UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Jennifer L. Martin AC, the four-day program has been scheduled to make it accessible to participants across four continents and four different time zones.

“The UGPN was established to enable academics and students from the member universities to work together on issues of global importance, and this conference provides an excellent forum for that,” Professor Martin said.

“The plenary sessions are designed to inspire and inform the audience on a number of salient topics in higher education and research, through the lens of global partnership and collaboration.

“This is an opportunity for staff and students across the UGPN network to hear from senior staff and learn about the innovative and exciting work being undertaken in research, with a particular focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as innovations in teaching and education.”

The conference program includes:

  • Research plenaries and workshops on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aligned themes: “Sustainable planet”, “Industries for the future”, and “Health and wellbeing”;
  • Resiliency workshops that will provide an opportunity for delegates to share and discuss key areas of activity impacted by the global pandemic, including student and staff mobility, transitioning to remote learning, communications and mental health and wellbeing.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE welcomed delegates to the virtual conference, saying the UGPN allowed the University to transcend geographies and collaborate with like-minded institutions from across the globe.

“The UGPN provides the invaluable opportunity to bring together global institutions to create diverse teams, with different perspectives, and access to greater expertise and facilities within common areas of interest,” Professor Wellings said.

“We live in a global culture where cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration is vital to solve the biggest challenges of our time.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all universities across the globe to carefully consider how they deploy their resources across an array of competing priorities. Even in this challenging time, UOW remains steadfast in its commitment to its UGPN partners. Our relationships have continued to deepen and expand resulting in a range of new opportunities across academic disciplines.

“We must not relent in our efforts, even amid this period of crisis, as it is only possible to achieve the greatest impact together through our global collaborations, such as that of the UGPN.”


UOW staff and students can register to attend the virtual conference here

Registration is free and all academic, teaching and research, professional staff, and students are invited to attend.


The UGPN was established in 2011 to create a foundation for international collaboration enabling academics and students from world-leading universities to work together on issues of global importance. Its members are North Carolina State University, University of Sao Paulo, University of Surrey and University of Wollongong.

Since its inception, UGPN member universities have collaborated on more than 800 academic publications, covering a broad range of subject areas including medicine, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, physics, astronomy, agricultural and biosciences.

The annual UGPN Research Collaboration Fund supports collaborations between researchers at the partner institutions and has supported 64 international research projects to date.