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Commonwealth unis should collaborate – ACU

The Association of Commonwealth Universities has urged universities across the Commonwealth to collaborate to find solutions to international crises such as climate change, plastic pollution and sustainable development.

Combatting global issues like plastic pollution is high on ACU's agenda. Photo: Wikimedia

Researchers should work together to combat today's pressing issues collectively

As Brexit threatens to hamper research collaboration with the EU, researchers across the Commonwealth should work together to combat today’s pressing issues collectively, the association said.

“To cut out any particular geographic region in the world would make no sense whatsoever”

“[Universities] are international by their very nature,” Joanna Newman, ACU secretary-general, told The PIE News.

“Taking advantage of longstanding Commonwealth connections and doing more across the diversity of Commonwealth nations – particularly when there might be more of a focus on countries beyond the EU – makes sense.”

The UK has been craving certainty surrounding research collaboration when it leaves the EU, although the UK government indicated it would introduce a fast-track visa route to attract “elite researchers and specialists in the fields of science, engineering and technology”.

A historical relationship with universities across the Commonwealth – aided by a shared history, a shared language, shared institutional structures – provide opportunities for both research and mobility, Newman added.

With over 500 institutions in 50 countries, the ACU has created new connections through its networks, she shared.

“For example, we have networks on peace and reconciliation and climate resilience, linking up the interests of different universities together.”

An example of the global impact is the research into ocean sciences by connecting Victoria University in Canada, the UK’s Southampton University and the University of Western Australia.

Newman has previously described the Commonwealth as a “living laboratory” for change.

“Continuing the very strong and essential relationships with European partners is also essential to the nation’s research,” Newman said.

Earlier in 2019, the association inked an agreement with Cypriot institution, the University of Nicosia, while the ACU is also working to strengthen connections to Malta.

“To cut out any particular geographic region in the world would make no sense whatsoever,” Newman added.

“We know our 90 UK members are interested in working across the European Union, and beyond.”


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