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“Embrace” SDGs in partnerships, universities told

Sustainable development, especially in regards to research collaboration, can only be put into effect if “everyone embraces it”, stakeholders said during a panel.

Sustainable development will only work if it is fully embraced by all, said one panellist. Photo: Applied HE

Panellists talked about how universities needed to collaborate further on the advancement of the SDGs

Part of Applied HE’s fireside chat series, panellists talked about how universities needed to collaborate further on the advancement of the UN’s sustainable development goals. 

“Sustainable development can only be in effect if everybody embraces it,” said Abhi Veerakumarasivam, provost at Sunway University in Malaysia.

“So we are thinking of various ways how we can actually ensure everyone has the ability and understands what they can do at their own individual level and try to respect that in a society level.”

The British Council’s representative on the panel, Kevin van Cauter, said that for success to be found in furthering both partnerships and SDGs, each cog must fit together. 

“The value of international partnerships, research and teaching partnerships can be quite significant in both countries in relation to contributing to the SDGs, because international partnerships can do a huge amount to improve the quality of higher education, teaching and learning. They can increase the supply of higher education. 

“They can enhance specialisation, enhance research capacity. Crucially, they can enhance graduate employability directly relating to the SDG around this work and they can build sustainable communities,” van Cauter explained.

Helen Carner, who heads up international partnerships at the University of Liverpool, shared her own experiences of the need for sustainability development through the institution’s agreement with universities in Malawi. 

“The core of that partnership are the seeds of cutting edge research focused on the health problems within the region, the provision of research based training environments for hospital, laboratory and community of scientists,” said Carner. 

She went on to say that these partnerships promote sustainable workforces, and look to better research into various medical diseases using the physical presence of Malawi’s College of Medicine. 

“It is about how our students leave our university”

“Universities have a key role to play here as knowledge producers to engage the public in policy developments, the wider public discourse in the home country, and also where the research is generated. So all we can do is make sure it’s applied to our value,” Carner also added.

Veerakumarasivam put forward that while universities still have that key role as “knowledge producers”, it’s not simply about those in research and the partnership administration. 

“We know that ultimately as a university, it’s also about our practices. It is about how our students leave our university and actually go and practise this philosophy of sustainable development wherever they go. And that’s really the power of what educational institutions are,” Veerakumarasivam commented. 

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