Inside track – Professor Hai-Sui Yu International research collaboration – creating global impact

Pro-Vice-Chancellor: International, Professor Hai-Sui Yu, outlines how the latest QS World University Rankings demonstrate the progress already made towards achieving our global strategy objectives.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor: International, Professor Hai-Sui Yu, for Inside Track column

With today’s publication of the latest QS World University Rankings putting Leeds in a top 100 position, it seems timely to share with you some updates and reflections on the past year’s progress towards delivery of our international strategy: International Leeds.

In April 2017, I wrote an Inside Track feature to help launch our newly-developed international strategy: International Leeds, which has the following three high-level objectives:

  • to achieve a sustainable student cohort mix by recruiting and supporting additional international students and staff to enhance the student experience and employability 
  • to enable world-changing research and innovation through effective international collaboration to maximise global impact; and
  • to enhance our international profile and reputation through impactful global engagement with a broad range of stakeholders. 

To achieve these key objectives effectively, a number of priority areas have been identified and related key performance indicators (KPIs) were determined in order to monitor and assess progress through the International Strategy Board. In addition, we have made a step-change by creating a Pro-Dean: International role in each faculty, who is responsible for leading on the development and delivery of a faculty international plan.

I’m pleased to report that, during the past couple of years, we have made significant progress towards achieving our ambitious international objectives, as outlined above, thanks to the dedication and hard work of all our staff and students across the entire university community. 

Perhaps the most significant progress has been the enhancement of our international reputation and standing through an extensive programme of high-level global engagement activities with a range of international stakeholders. This is evidenced by the fact the University has been named as the 47th most international institution in the world by the latest Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, a rise of at least 103 places from last year. In the 2019 QS World University Rankings, announced today, the University has moved up eight places to 93rd. A most important factor in this improvement in our world ranking has been a continued enhancement of our academic and employer reputation in the UK and especially internationally. 

However, we must also acknowledge that in the indicators of citations per staff (based on publications between 2012 and 2016) and staff/student ratio, our positions in the QS rankings fell. Note that each of these two indicators accounts for 20% of the total weightings in the QS rankings. 

To improve our low ranking position in the citations per staff measure (now 313th globally), we must focus on increasing the quality, impact and citations of our research outputs through, for example, high-quality international research collaborations and internationally co-authored publications. To enable and support this aim, the University has recently approved the set-up of a new international research mobility fund and a new strategic research partnership fund. We are working closely with Pro-Deans: International and Research Innovation Service to launch these funding schemes very shortly.

Please contact your faculty’s Pro-Dean: International for further information about these schemes and for advice about improving research collaborations.

High-profile global rankings, such as QS WUR, would tangibly affect how attractive we are to the best potential international students, staff and overseas partners. In an increasingly globalised world, our future opportunities and success will increasingly depend on our international standing and global partnership. Therefore, increasing research quality and citations through impactful international collaborations has been articulated as an urgent core objective for the University to achieve, and this is being reflected in our strategic delivery plans at all levels for the next few years.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank staff and students for their tremendous efforts towards achieving our international objectives, and I look forward to continue working together to further develop the University’s global reputation and impact.

Professor Hai-Sui Yu

Pro-Vice-Chancellor: International 

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