A professor from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia has won the first Best Staff Mobility Experience IMPACT Award, recognising his efforts to improve access to technology in a remote village in India.
The second annual awards were announced last week in Valencia, Spain as part of QS’s 12th MoveON conference.
Speaking with The PIE News, David Smith, winner of the student category for his work on University of Strathclyde’s Gambia Solar Energy Project, said participating in the initiative has changed his life. “It’s opened my eyes to a whole different way of seeing things,” he said.
“It’s nice for the work that I’ve done to be recognised but also for the work that the university has done”
So far, the initiative has created a sustainable solar energy source for eight schools and two health clinics in Gambia.
“It’s nice for the work that I’ve done to be recognised but also for the work that the university has done and for everyone that’s been involved,” he said.
This year, QS expanded the categories to include an award for staff mobility. Winner Jason Sargent, a lecturer at Swinburne University, said the recognition comes after four years of hard work on the IT for Social Impact India Project.
The programme collaborates with the Satpuda Vikas Mandal organisation to allow Australian undergraduate IT and business students unrestricted access to school communities in the remote tribal village of Pal, India, where they live and work with primary and secondary school teachers to improve curriculum delivery, focusing on access to technology.
“I’m looking forward to making it even better for the next three or four years for students and the communities we work with,” Sargent told The PIE News.
Sargent said he would encourage other university staff to create meaningful global mobility experiences. “Bring a team of great enthusiastic students along with you for the ride and always focus on impact,” he said.
The winners were chosen from a shortlist of three per category and included students and staff from India, Spain, Denmark, Iraq and Singapore.
Clare Gossage, marketing director and co-founder of The PIE News, was part of the panel of judges and commended the entrants.
“The stories of all the shortlisted candidates were very inspirational and I’m sure will spur on many others to embark on their own mobility experience,” she said.
“They also demonstrate a huge commitment on the part of the individuals who are driving these projects – particularly in the staff category, where they are often running them in addition to their day jobs, without any additional funding or support.”
The awards were created by QS to recognise the impact of international mobility experiences on personal lives, achievements from both an academic and employability perspective, cultural development and transfer of knowledge.
Shortlisted candidates for the student award were Jan-Peter Hansen from the University of Göttingen, Germany and Maria Teresa Sanz Gomez from the University of Navarra, Spain. Staff finalists included Rebecca Whitford and Debbie Rolls both from Bradford College in the UK.