My week - 13 May 2013 - Professor John Fisher, Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Professor John Fisher discusses the importance of internationalisation and a visit to Hong Kong and Singapore.

Professor John Fisher

Internationalisation is extremely important to the University. The increasing complexity of our academic business means we have to develop many different types of international partnerships and networks to support our growth in academic excellence.

I have just arrived back from Singapore and Hong Kong, two of our international priority regions, where I led University delegations meeting with universities, government departments, industry, prospective students and alumni.

Singapore is an emerging area for us. The Vice-Chancellor led a visit to Singapore last year and opened up opportunities for collaboration with Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Last week we returned, taking a larger team of 20 academics, clinicians and staff from eight different schools across the University. We signed two Memoranda of Understanding with NTU for student education and research, colleagues from Arts and Social Sciences visited local schools and colleges, and we held a reception for alumni, industry and collaborators in the region at the British High Commissioner’s residence. Everyone was welcoming and pleased to attend what was our first major University event in Singapore.

One particular focus for the visit was to establish research collaborations in the area of medical technologies, and we had two full day workshops at NTU and at the Singapore Institute for Manufacturing Technologies (SIMTech), one of the national research institutes of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A* STAR).  Colleagues from Design, Dentistry, Medicine and Engineering gave presentations and we had discussions on future research collaborations. On the third day, SIMTech ran a symposium on medical technologies at which colleagues from Leeds spoke about their research. It attracted 150 attendees from industry and university collaborators.
This was our first major delegation visit to Singapore and we were able to identify many opportunities for future collaboration. Most of us left Singapore with the impression of a country, universities and government research laboratories investing heavily in education and training and technology research for growth and future prosperity, confirming how important Singapore is as an international market for both research and education.

Thursday morning took me to Hong Kong for the third annual University of Leeds alumni event. This included the annual alumni lecture, which this year was presented by Professor Christoph Walti on Bio-electronics. As always in Hong Kong, our alumni were extremely welcoming. The evening was very well attended and the audience was fascinated by the public lecture. Attendees included alumni from 1965 through to our most recent graduates from 2012, exchange students and one prospective undergraduate student.  Our alumni in Hong Kong are very well networked in government, industry and local education and they provide us with valuable insights into many aspects of our academic business in the region. Through the Worldwide Universities Network we already have good relations with the Chinese University in Hong Kong and it’s important to sustain all our networks in Hong Kong through frequent visits – this was my third visit in the last year!

I often talk about the ‘virtuous circle’ of our academic business, with student education linking to employability, to alumni, to research collaborations, to innovations and impact which feeds back into research led student education. This is never more evident than during these international visits, with each region having different and distinctive characteristics and opportunities. Our alumni are critical to helping us develop all aspects of our academic business and making their networks and local knowledge work for us in each of these international markets. 


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