International Relations Office

Updates on the University's global engagement activities

The importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in scientific research

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📥  Funding/Scholarship, Mobility, Partnership, Research, Visit

This communication attempts to share my experience as a visiting PhD researcher at the Department of Wood and Forestry Sciences, University Laval, Canada. Explicitly, I was part of the Industrial Research Chair in Eco-Responsible Wood Construction (CIRCERB). While the significance of the title may be better realised by those more experienced and engaged with research, it might not be so apparent to others. It is my hope to encourage others, especially those newly embarked on a similar path, academic or otherwise, to consider looking outside of their immediate field or discipline when fostering partnerships and searching for opportunities.

The background to my PhD

As a civil engineer pursuing a doctorate on the use of sol-gel nanotechnology to develop low-carbon, multifunctional and ultra-resilient concrete, it would seem odd to most as to why I spent six months based at a wood science department. Moving labs, let alone countries, in the middle of an experimentally demanding PhD is a daunting task. In Bath, I was settled, and our laboratories were more than equipped and tailored to my research needs. My familiarity with various academics and technical staff across the different faculties had become a refuge that allowed me to carry out effective research. So why did I break out of this comfort zone?

The complex chemistry of hydrated cement and its intermingled micro and nanostructures make it an incredibly challenging and an equally exciting material to study. Adding sol-gel nanomaterial to the cement mix further complicates matters, essentially creating a hybrid sol-gel-cement system. The endeavour to understand this novel hybrid system has involved dealing with a series of multifaceted and multidisciplinary problems, requiring me to look beyond the fluency of my own PhD. While I continued to explore new experimental techniques independently, I actively sought collaboration due to the interdependence of the different skill sets necessary to overcome some of the obstacles. Albeit unconventional, CIRCERB offered a platform to do both simultaneously. In hindsight, more so than I anticipated.

University Laval Campus

Work and collaboration at CIRCERB

Indeed, among several other streams, CIRCERB is deeply involved with the research of sol-gel nanomaterials to provide ‘greener’ solutions for the construction industry. I could use many of their in-house analytical tools to study the micro and nanostructure of hydrated cement specimens. CIRCERB also served as a bridge that gave me access to so much more, including numerous other academics, shared equipment and interdepartmental facilities throughout the campus, and off-site commercial research centres. Admittedly, there were many challenges and some initial downtime while I could ‘set up’ and get acquainted with the different labs and staff. Afterwards, I often found myself running two or three simultaneous experiments, at times in two different departments, due to easier and unrestricted access. Being able to multi-task in this way was a blessing.

Chemical and materials characterization lab, CIRCERB

 

X-ray diffractometer in transmission geometry, Department of Chemistry

Being surrounded by the rich diversity of scientists covering extensive fields of study was refreshing and intellectually stimulating. The degree of interaction and involvement encouraged within this group was second to none. It was a bit unusual, yet pleasant, to see the professors eating their daily lunch with the entire team, both staff and students. I soon realised that this unique combination of friendship and mentoring was the norm here, which extended to life outside of the office and labs. This ethos of the group promoted by its leaders is what makes CIRCERB so special and well-integrated both internally and with various other researchers and industrial partners. It was through CIRCERB’s network that I discovered Prof Luca Sorelli and his team from the Department of Civil Engineering, who specialise in the micro-nano chemo-mechanical characterisation of cement hydrates. I consider myself fortunate enough to have met him, worked with him and to have learned from him.

Confocal micro-raman spectrometer, CIRCERB

 

Microstructural chemo-mechanical characterization of materials lab, COPL

 

Microstructural chemo-mechanical characterization of materials lab, COPL

Thanks to colleagues and mentors

In fact, there are many who played an instrumental role towards my overall learning and experience. While it is impossible to name everyone, a few deserve particular mention. I am grateful to Dr Diane Schorr as, without her, it would have been impossible to realise the research potential from all the way in the UK. I must recognise the time, effort and assistance from Dr Torsten Lira, Pierre Gagne, Guylaine Belanger and Joanie Rheaume for helping me settle and for ensuring the steady operation of various routine undertakings. I hold three senior lab technicians very dear to me; Yves Bedard, without whom I would have been totally lost on so many fronts; Rodica Plesu, for introducing me to the world of crystallography and training me on the x-ray diffractometer; and Richard Javier, for his assistance with transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Jessy Frech-Baronet is a colleague and a friend, who I must thank for showing me how to execute the numerous protocols of sample preparation techniques and fruitful thoughts on micro-nanoindentation. Similarly, thanks must be extended to Antoine Cogulet, for getting me up to speed with confocal micro Raman spectroscopy, and Kevin Arnaud, for the countless discussions on various aspects of chemistry and crystallography.

I would like to thank my supervisors here in the UK, Dr Juliana Holley, Dr Kevin Paine and Dr Martin Ansell, for always instilling the value of interdisciplinary science and for encouraging me to apply for this fellowship. Finally, I am forever grateful towards my Canadian supervisors, Prof Pierre Blanchet and Dr Veronic Landry for hosting me, for granting me the complete autonomy and freedom in my research, and for the technical and emotional support during every step on the way of what truly has been a unique adventure. Their ‘open door’ policy meant I could always approach them as and when needed. Being made to feel at home in so many other ways enabled me to really focus on the science and push my own boundaries. Through their mentorship, I have been able to grow a lot as a researcher and hopefully this will reflect in the years to come. Given Pierre’s additional backing and our aligned interests, we have established three distinct collaborations, one which includes Prof Luca Sorelli and his partners at University of Sherbrooke. Collectively, this brings together academics from four different research groups, three institutions and two continents. I hope we continue to work on other joint-projects in the future but, more importantly, I hope that these friendships are long-lasting. The fellowship, which was funded through the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholars grant, and my PhD, which is funded through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council UK, are acknowledged and greatly appreciated.

Some members of the CIRCERB research team

 

Faculty of Science, Study Year Abroad Poster Event – 29th November 2017

  

📥  Announcement, Mobility

“Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind”; so said Seneca, and what better way to put this to the test than by embarking on a study year abroad?

Students from the Faculty of Science came together on 29 November to exchange their tales and experiences gained during a study period abroad as part of their undergraduate courses.

With a plethora of destinations to choose from; from the far west corner of Canada, to the vineyards of South Africa, Helsinki, Finland to Christchurch, New Zealand, our students have broadened their horizons both physically and metaphorically.

The Study Year Abroad Poster Event

For the second year running the Faculty of Science, along with the International Mobility Office, held the Study Year Abroad Poster Event, giving returning students a chance to share their experiences with students hoping to undertake a similar adventure next year.

Students are asked to design a poster reflecting their year abroad, highlighting social and cultural events, as well as details of their studies and research. 11 students exhibited their posters in 1 South and were keen to share their tips on how to make the most of their forthcoming opportunities.

Students' enthusiasm shone through as they spoke of adapting to new surroundings and new cultures (often having to learn new languages), all seeing their experiences as positive and rewarding. Some did face challenges at different points of their visits, others discovered teaching and learning methods to be quite different to those of the University of Bath, but all unanimously enthused over the benefits, both personal and academic, of their study years abroad.

The poster entries were judged by Dr Randolf Kohn, Senior Lecturer for the Department of Chemistry, as well as the departmental exchange coordinator for Chemistry and Natural Sciences. After careful consideration, he awarded the winning prize to Lydia Davidson, student of BSc Physics, who spent a valuable two semesters at the Université de Bordeaux, France. The highlights of her year? Improving her French, rollerblading with the locals and attending the International Comics Festival in Angoulême… and working very hard at her Physics, of course!

The event was deemed a great success – especially with the arrival of pizza for all!

See photos of the poster event.

Study years abroad in 2018/19

For those students interested in undertaking their study year abroad next academic year 2018/19, application forms and notes are available from your Departmental exchange coordinator or via the International Mobility Office (mobilityoffice@bath.ac.uk).

Applications for the first round closed on December 14th, however any remaining places may be available early 2018 for any other students from Chemistry, Computer Sciences, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Physics, who would like to apply.

 

Visiting our Study & Work Abroad students in Asia

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📥  Announcement, Culture, Development, Mobility, Visit

Kirsten Brown, Placements Manager in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, tells us about her experience of meeting our Study & Work Abroad programme students in Hong Kong and Singapore.


The beginning of September saw me visiting the first cohort of Economics students studying on the Study & Work Abroad programme. Six students, two at each institution, are studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS).  To say our students were having a great time is rather an understatement; never have I seen such happy and enthusiastic students, brimming full of confidence and waxing lyrical about their experiences so far.

First stop: Hong Kong

The chaotic but vibrant city of Hong Kong offers an intense experience for our students. CUHK, however, is based 45 minutes out of the centre of Hong Kong, close to the Northern Territories. Surrounded by views of islands and green hills the campus is a haven, perfect for study. Francisco and Alex, our students based at CUHK, took me on the short, minute walk to their college.

Part of the charm of this university is that it is based on the collegiate model popular in the US; both Alex and Francisco share a room with other students, local and international. Although not an experience they are used to, this is very common in Asia. Both are embracing the opportunity to live dorm style and build strong new friendships. The international student community is very active and CUHK offers a comprehensive and, most importantly fun, two- week induction for their international students. Alex and Francisco appeared to know everyone, and so far had managed to climb (yes, climb!) to the top of The Peak, sample the local street food and travel for a weekend to Thailand.

Students have a wide array of courses to choose from, including learning Putonghua (Standard Mandarin), and Chinese History. There are also courses offered by the Centre for China Studies, including ‘Chinese Business and Economy’ and ‘Investment and Finance in China’. Both Francisco and Alex were extremely keen to attend all their lectures, whether or not they were graded. The opportunity to study with such a multicultural community, located in a stunning setting and embracing the cultural experience through extra-curricular activities made me wish I had this awesome opportunity.

Although Hong Kong is as expensive as London, probably more so if you take in account the size of accommodation you get for your dollar, living at CUHK is cheap, and the students had already learnt how to budget. Your room for the entire semester is approximately £600, and you can eat at a wide variety of campus canteens for just over £5 per day; the sports facilities are free! Travelling on the MTR is super cheap, fast and efficient, and many bars in Lan Kwai Fong, the Soho of HK, offer happy hours most evenings. Hong Kong living is not for the faint-hearted; the heat in the summer, the grey drizzle in winter, the overwhelming crowds of people day and night, close-packed tower blocks and little space make for an intense experience. But, if you like buzz, raw culture, bright lights and skylines that take your breath away and the sense that you are part of a dynamic visionary city, then this experience is for you.

Second Stop: Singapore

NTU and NUS are two of the highest ranking universities in the world, both based in Singapore. Both of these institutions are the size of a small town, to the extent that it can take half an hour on a bus to travel from one end of NUS to the other. Senior Lecturer Dr Maik Schneider joined me in Singapore as he was on a two-week trip as a visiting scholar at the Department of Economics at NTU. Working collaboratively, between us we:

·         presented to groups of potential incoming students at NUS representing the university

·         visited students on the Study Abroad programme from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science, on behalf of the IRO.

Maik led a research seminar at the Centre for Economic Growth (NTU) attended by some of our Economics students and also presented at our other partner university located in the centre of Singapore, NUS.

Arguably, I had the more enjoyable task of spending time visiting our students on and off campus, and finding out more about the nitty-gritty of Singapore student life. Gabriele, Rodolph, Elanor and Jeremy, our Study Abroad students in Singapore, met me at one of the numerous eateries at NUS. Like Hong Kong, if you live and eat on campus it is as cheap as chow mein. There are differing standards of accommodation, with UTown being the highest standard of luxury student accommodation. From SGD2800 a semester (£1563 per semester/£520 a month) you can stay in a four-bed apartment; bearing in mind this doesn’t include food. Some accommodation you have to pay extra for air con (worth considering when the average daily temperatures tops 30 degrees!).

Something else to consider is how long it may take you to adjust to the heat and humidity. All students told me this was something they hadn’t anticipated; it can affect your sleep, your skin, and make you much more tired than normal. It takes a few weeks and then you will be back to using the free sports centres with aplomb, while visitors like me break out into a sweat just walking outside. This also applies to the change in a diet that is different to home - all that spicy food can take a little while to adjust to.

Extra-curricular activities are a big thing at NUS and a must to get the most out of your time spent here. Societies and groups the students are members of ranged from football to boxing, salsa, climbing and Lindy Hop. This is how you meet many more of the local students and break down those cultural barriers.

All students agreed that the stand out benefits of living and studying in Singapore were the lectures and the travelling. The students were all enthralled by the range of subjects on offer to study and the highly engaged and motivated lecturers. Like Hong Kong, students are awarded an attendance mark of 10% to their final grade for attending all of their lectures, but the students enjoy the teaching environment so much they are eager to attend all lectures, seminars and tutorials even without this incentive. There is also the opportunity to switch courses within the first three weeks of the semester, which really helps if you start a new subject but don’t feel it is really for you.

Alternatively, you could front-load your week full of lectures so that you have a long weekend to travel around South East Asia. With Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia all within a two-hour flight, with airlines offering prices to go to Bangkok for less than a few pints and a burger in Bath, why not?

The trip came to a joyous end teaming up with Katie Calvert-Jones from the School of Management and hosting a drinks event in Clarke Quay on a balmy Tuesday evening. Katie, Maik and I met over 20 students on placement or studying in Singapore from the School of Management, and the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences Science.

It was a great opportunity to bring everyone together, many of them not knowing each other despite sharing not one but two universities! We were all so proud of our students and the global attitude they had already acquired, fully embracing life in this city far away from home. Each of us came away from that evening inspired by the students we had met and excited about the university’s partnerships in Asia, which are going from strength to strength.

 

University of Bath welcomes new cohort of International Exchange students

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📥  Erasmus+, Event, Induction, International Strategy, Mobility

The International Mobility Team were delighted to welcome a new cohort of international exchange students to the University of Bath on Monday 25th September.

Despite the early start on a grey and dreary Monday morning, the 140 students in attendance for our induction were all in high spirits and keen to embark on their University of Bath journey.

The 140 exchange and visiting students were from 60 exchange partner universities and of 29 nationalities - of these the biggest nationality groups were German (27), French (26), and Spanish (22).

The induction commenced with members of the International Mobility Team introducing themselves, their roles and how they can be of assistance during the students stay with the University. As well as this students were informed of their schedule and priorities for the week before being given a wider overview of the University of Bath, extra-curricular activities, and getting around the United Kingdom.

The students also received presentations from the Academic Skills Centre on non-curricular courses which they can take, the Student Services Team on their role and how they support our students, and also the Students' Union who covered how to get involved at the University through societies, student groups, volunteering and fundraising. The induction concluded with a campus tour by student ambassadors.

Overall it was a really successful induction for our new cohort of international exchange students and we hope that they have a wonderful time during their stay at the University of Bath.

 

International Healthcare Workshop with Koç University, 28-30 July 2017

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📥  Conference, Research

An early-career researcher workshop on "Improving healthcare operations through modelling and simulation" brought together scholars from the UK and Turkey in Bath, 28-30 July 2017.

Invited by the School of Management, 25 early career and senior researchers from the UK and Turkey explored innovative decision-making tools to pressing challenges in healthcare planning and management, with a particular focus in applying systems modelling and computer simulation techniques to problems in health and care.

The session was organised by Professor Christos Vasilakis, Director of the Centre for Healthcare Innovation and Improvement (CHI2) at the University of Bath, and his colleagues Profs. Evrim Didem Günes and Lerzan Örmeci at Koç University in Istanbul.

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With support from a British Council/Newton Fund Researcher Links grant, the workshop provided a unique opportunity for early career scholars to engage with senior researchers and healthcare practitioners, and to work together on a number of challenges in areas of care such as stroke prevention, outpatient care for chronic illness and hospital appointment scheduling.

Implementing a collaborative approach

Collaborative research with practitioners is of significant value, as operational researchers rely on rich data and realistic scenarios to design mathematical models and computer simulations that can have meaningful impact in the way healthcare is provided. This also means that researchers need to acquire the skills to communicate with diverse stakeholders such as policy-makers, health planners or clinicians in designing research questions, sharing data and creating practical, easy-to-use toolkits for decision-making.

This was an excellent workshop! The research challenges provided lots of new information and perspectives. I appreciated the friendly environment and effective communication between researchers from UK and Turkey, which I believe will lead to many fruitful collaborations.

Dr Erhun Kundakcioglu, Ozyegin University

To facilitate a similarly collaborative approach, the workshop organisers encouraged participants to form smaller problem-solving teams and work together to design initial modelling solutions. Each team then had the opportunity to present their outcomes in a plenary setting and receive feedback from senior mentors and practitioners, including Dr Monica Baird, Deputy Medical Director at the North Bristol NHS Trust.

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Building networks to improve data collection

The workshop’s collaborative design also benefited from the international exchange of scholars based at institutions in the UK and Turkey.

Turkey’s fragmented healthcare system makes data collection in the country very difficult. Scholars therefore stand to gain from networks with UK partners to complement expertise in theoretical mathematics with building capacities in applied healthcare research.

As research skills training, this working-group format has lots of potential to be developed further to ensure researchers are connected to actual problems in the health and care sector. It is also a model that can be applied to other areas of operational research such as transport or logistics.

Dr Paul Forte, the workshop’s facilitator and an independent health care consultant at the Balance of Care Group

For the past five years, my research focus has been operating room scheduling: how to best allocate expensive operating room resources to benefit the patients, surgical team and the hospitals. This workshop gave me the perfect opportunity to meet with fellow colleagues with similar research interests and to establish potential collaborations in a warm and welcoming setting. I absolutely loved the workshop’s design around small and focused working groups around exciting and challenging problems. I look forward to reuse this workshop’s collaboration style to design similar study groups in the future.

Dr Enis Kayış, assistant professor at Ozyegin University’s Department of Industrial Engineering

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Taking partnerships forward

Researcher Links grants like the one Professor Vasilakis received are designed to support international networking activities for early-career researchers between the UK and select partner countries. Most of this workshop’s participants had been trained at institutions around the world, and were already familiar with working across diverse research cultures. Sustaining such links and transforming them into long-term projects can be more of a challenge.

Professor Vasilakis’ links with his Turkish colleagues grew out of opportunity and personal contacts, as is often the case in academia. A University of Bath “International Research Initiator” grant in 2016 was instrumental in building on these initial contacts and paved the way for visits and joint funding bids. It is important for him to take the partnership forward:

We had great fun organising and running this interactive research workshop with our collaborators from Koç University. We took full advantage of the School of Management Executive Education suite at The Edge to have teams working together over two and a half days on one of a number of research challenges drawn from real life problems in health and care. The close links between CHI2 and the local health economy made this possible. I think we managed to give early career scholars new ideas for research projects, and also create friendships and networks that can take some of the research ideas forward. All this was made possible with the generous support from the International Relations Office of the University of Bath.

Professor Christos Vasilakis

Contact for enquiries: Professor Christos Vasilakis


Further international funding opportunities

The International Relations Office at the University of Bath runs an internal funding scheme to support researchers at the university. Applications are made for seed funding to initiate new international networks, or to transform existing contacts into larger joint research projects and activities.

The next call for funding will open in October 2017.

For more information, contact: Dr. Tina Schilbach, International Partnerships Manager

 

International Relations Office hosts Agents’ Conference - 13 to 15 June 2017

📥  Conference, International Strategy

The International Relations Office hosted its three-day Agents’ Conference from 13 to 15 June 2017, welcoming 31 international representatives from 16 different countries to the event showcasing the University of Bath.

A background to the agents we work with

As part of our international recruitment strategy, the University has a global network of local representatives who receive training on our courses, facilities, application procedures and entry requirements. This allows agents an insight into our processes, requirements and strengths, consequently increasing our recruitment of highly qualified international students.

Agents act as our year-round representative in key markets and offer a support service to potential and actual applicants to the University of Bath. They also act as our ‘eyes and ears’ in each market by feeding market intelligence and guidance on education systems and qualifications back to us.

Our educational agents are responsible for over £9.4 million in overseas fee income into the University every year and are a key resource in promoting our courses worldwide.

Collaboration across the University creates a successful conference for all

The agents’ conference was a great success, in no small part due to the collaboration of departments across the University.

University Secretary Mark Humphriss opened the conference by welcoming our agents, highlighting the important role they play in our international recruitment strategy. Students’ Union President Lucy Woodcock followed this with an exciting and informative introduction to the SU, providing agents with a view of the sporting and social elements of the student experience.

Interaction and collaboration were key themes of the conference, and these were delivered in part through a series of workshops focusing on a number of crucial topics related to international recruitment:

·         the current recruitment cycle and looking ahead to the next

·         our postgraduate taught offering and new courses

·         the University's existing processes

·         the University’s digital and marketing initiatives, including the new website design

·         the University’s strengths in the employability of our students.

An interactive workshop at the agents' conference

Agents were run through their paces at a series of workshops

Colleagues involved in recruitment and admission of international students from around the University also had the opportunity to meet our agents informally during an evening drinks reception at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath.

International agents talking to each other at a drinks reception

Agents were welcomed to Bath at a drinks reception at the Victoria Art Gallery.

The conference concluded with our agents attending the University of Bath Open Day, listening to subject talks, tours and visiting the Information Fair at the Sports Training Village. Being able to experience the energetic and engaging atmosphere of our Open Days first-hand gives our agents a unique insight into the diverse and welcoming atmosphere at the University, which they can then relate to prospective applicants.

Anamaria Puicar from Global Study, our representative in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) commented: “Seeing the campus has shed a new light on the university… the informative sessions made me understand more about the USPs and the unique courses the University provides. Overall, it was a great experience and exploring the beautiful city of Bath was the cherry on top.”

If you wish to find out more about our agents, contact the International Relations Office.

You can also view more photos of the event through the University's Flickr account.

The International Relations Office would like to extend our thanks to all colleagues involved across the University for contributing to the success of the event.

 

International Mobility Students: Leavers' Party 2017

📥  Erasmus+, Event, International Strategy, Mobility

2017 marks two birthdays: after the 50th Anniversary of the University of Bath, the Erasmus Programme turns 30!

In 30 years, 9 million people have benefited from the European scheme, and it is becoming more popular every year. The University of Bath sends an average of 450 students on the Erasmus+ programme every year on both study exchange experiences and work placements. In turn, we receive around 200 incoming students from European partner universities annually, also.

Read more information about the Erasmus Programme’s 30th Anniversary.

The International Mobility Student Leavers’ Party

On Monday 8th May, the International Mobility Office held the second International Mobility Leavers’ Party in the Roman Baths. The event gives current Bath students who will be going abroad in 2017-2018 the opportunity to meet with incoming exchange students.

Shoot ref: 29262 Shoot Date 08052017. International Mobility Leavers’ Party took place at The Roman Baths Great Baths. This is a send-off evening for Bath students going on an exchange abroad in 2017/2018, and incoming exchange students who were at Bath this year and are going home. Introductory speech followed by drinks reception and a photo competition.

Students at the International Mobility Leavers’ Party, The Roman Baths. Image by Anthony Prothero.

We were also joined by University of Bath alumni from Chile and the USA, who decided to stay a bit longer after enjoying the Bath Festival the weekend before.

Encouraging collaboration between attendees

A key concept behind this event is that it is an opportunity for attendees to make connections with their international peers, and to encourage collaboration between them over the following year. As part of this, tasks were arranged for attendees leading up to and during the event.

Around 150 students were welcomed at the Roman Baths with a card explaining their mission for the night: to find someone who will be in the same country as them next year. The first few pairs to come together were awarded prizes.

'Matched Pairs' at International Mobility Leavers’ Party

'Matched Pairs' at International Mobility Leavers’ Party. Image by Anthony Prothero.

Attendees were also asked to vote for the best pictures of the Incoming Students Photo Competition; the theme this year was 'Birthdays and Celebrations'.

• First prize: Anika Klassen (pictured), from Queen’s University (Canada)
• Second prize: Sofia Pavlova from TU Munich (Germany)
• Third prize: Fede Anselmo (Third Prize) from Universidad San Andres (Argentina).

First Prize winner in the Photo Competition: Anika Klassen

First Prize winner in the Photo Competition: Anika Klassen. Image by Anthony Prothero.

Several students have already made plans to reunite with their new friends next year, and the feedback we received was very positive:

“This was an incredible event. As an exchange student, it was truly unforgettable and an amazing way to say goodbye to Bath’.

“I enjoyed that there was an incentive to meet people from the country you're going to/going to the same country as you - and an excuse to go up and speak to them!”

You can also view more photographs of the evening.

The International Relations Office would like to extend particular thanks to Agathe Lairy, International Mobility Coordinator (Outgoing), for organising the event.

 

HSS delegation visit Universidad Nacional de Colombia

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📥  International Strategy, Mobility, Partnership, Research, Visit

I write from Colombia where this week I led a delegation from the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences to visit international colleagues at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL) in Bogota. With staff from our Departments of Education, Psychology, PoLIS and Health we used the visit to strengthen ties and to seek opportunities to collaborate and broadcast shared research and teaching agendas. As one of the University strategic partners, a visit to UNAL has been a great opportunity to view the many changes that are happening within Colombia.

These changes are dominated by the peace agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) signed in 2016 following the rejection of a peace deal in a national referendum in the Summer. At the same time, as a middle income country with considerable historical socio-economic cleavages between the rich and poor, urban and rural, as well as ideological divides between Left and Right, Colombia has a great opportunity for change but many challenges that may take as long to fix as they have been around.

Celebrating its 150th anniversary in the same year that the University of Bath is celebrating its 50th anniversary, UNAL is the largest university in Colombia with 8 campuses and 2 research stations throughout the country. The delegation from Bath met with UNAL colleagues at the Human Sciences Faculty and the Medical Sciences Faculty.

In the Human Sciences Faculty, Jorge Marco and I met colleagues working with the FARC camps and local communities, focusing on communication, education and local approaches to peace-making. Santiago Sanchez, Trevor Grimshaw and Andres Sandoval from our Department of Education, met colleagues in the Institute for Education and the Departments of Linguistics and Modern Languages.

In the Medical Sciences Faculty, Jo Cranwell, Nikki Caghill and Abby Tabor from the Department for Health and Sally Adams from the Department of Psychology met with UNAL researchers working on the public health challenges facing Colombia, particularly in the area of tobacco and alcohol control, inequalities in health, and pain research.

Furthermore, several colleagues met with researchers from the Departments of Electrical Engineering, Physics and Chemical Engineering to look at the ways the University are seeking to overcome some of the technological challenges of the war, such as identifying and destroying landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The delegation also took part in a Development and Alumni Relations event on 29 March which included alumni, current placement students, prospective students, and local researchers as well as guests from local businesses and the British Embassy in Colombia. Trevor Grimshaw and Santiago Sanchez showcased their current research on global English and inequalities in Education.

Overall, the Delegation came away with two points. The first is that researchers are doing very interesting and relevant work in applied research on many of the problems that face Colombia but are by all means not limited to Colombia. The second is that the post-conflict environment represents a much more complex period as the problems of inequalities, land ownership and use, education and public health, which were often grievances in the civil war, are now facing the Colombian government and society with a legacy longer than the war itself. UNAL, as well as other universities in Colombia, has been invited to play a key role in attempting to overcome these challenges and the University of Bath has much to offer and gain from this process of social transition and peace building.

My thanks to the UNAL Department of External Relations who helped make the trip possible, and to University of Bath International Relations Office and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

One of the sessions where our HSS delegation shared both research and teaching ideas with our partners in Colombia.

One of the sessions where our HSS delegation shared both research and teaching ideas with our partners in Colombia.

 

A warm welcome to the International Exchange and Visiting students

📥  Uncategorized

On 2 February the International Mobility team (Lorna, Agathe, Tracey, Cori and myself) welcomed 120 exchange and visiting students. The largest nationalities represented were Canadian, American, French, Italian and Singaporean. The smallest number of nationals attending– just to mention a few – were one from Norway, one Fin, one Pole, and one Romanian.

Newly arrived students getting to know each other over tea and coffee.

Newly arrived students getting to know each other over tea and coffee.

As usual, the day started bright and early for us, and at 8.30am we were welcoming the new students with tea and coffee and their University of Bath induction pack. We then moved to the lecture theatre for the induction presentations. Representatives from Student Services, the Students’ Union and the Academic Skills Centre joined us to provide information and guidance, and Student Services organised a game of ‘human bingo’ to encourage everyone to mingle.

Students completing the 'human bingo'

Students completing the 'human bingo'

Students on a tour of the Roman Baths

Students on a tour of the Roman Baths

In between the rain, the students were taken on campus tours by the Students’ Union Officers. Thankfully, the rain held off until noon when they regrouped for lunch and everyone seemed to have enjoyed the morning’s events!

On 10 February the students went on a tour of the historic Roman Baths, and on Thursday 16 February there will be a reception organised by Bath’s Exchange and Erasmus Network (BEN) at the Westgate, sponsored by the International Mobility Office.

The exchange and visiting students got involved with events and activities during Refresh week, and on Saturday 11 February, 56 of them joined the international lunch at the Widcombe Baptist Church. It truly was an International Café as 18 different countries were represented at the meal. Despite the freezing conditions 30 students were brave enough to join the Skyline walk afterwards and 14 of them completed the walk. Well done everybody!

Students attending the International Lunch at the Widcombe Baptist Church.

Students attending the International Lunch at the Widcombe Baptist Church.

 

My internship at Université Laval, Canada

  

📥  Culture, Funding/Scholarship, Research, Visit

I have recently returned from Quebec City, Canada after completing a six-month internship at the Department of Wood and Forestry Sciences, Université Laval. It was funded by the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship worth CAD $11,000. This scholarship aims to activate a dynamic community of young global leaders across the Commonwealth countries, creating an impact at an international level through inter-cultural exchanges encompassing international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences.

Entrance to the Université Laval

Entrance to the Department of Architecture, Université Laval

The facilities were impressive in terms of a wide range of equipments available to carry out state of the art research and experimentation in laboratories. The lab staff were very helpful in providing training on new equipments, helping with experiments and making sure labs are running smoothly. The department staff members were also very friendly and I felt welcome throughout my stay.

The department laboratory

The CIRCERB department laboratory

I attended some departmental events such as the 'Summer School' and 'Direction de Bureau' nuturing networking opportunities with industrial partners who have collaborated projects running with the Department. The all-day event was packed with presentations by people from industry, poster sessions by students and group discussions.

I took part in the "Festival Forestier" with other Queen Elizabeth scholars. It was interesting to visit the countryside over the weekend and experience the artwork (wood, iron, farming and cultivation) of local Quebec residents during this festival. I also volunteered in the 'Fall Festival' event organised by the Voice of English-speaking Quebec. It was enjoyable meeting English-speaking families in Quebec City.

Volunteering at Fall Festival

Volunteering at Fall Festival

A view of Quebec City, Canada

A view of Quebec City, Canada

The internship was an overall good experience to work in a new environment and establish good networking opportunities for future. The work completed there is a substantial part of my PhD research contributing to scientific publications. Having the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II scholarship during the PhD would be a plus on my CV. Moreover, doing a collaborated research work opens new doors for my career by meeting new people in the field.

I would like to thank my supervisors here at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Dr Mike Lawrence and Dr Juliana Holley, who encouraged me to apply for this scholarship and guided me throughout the internship. I wish to acknowledge the BRE Centre for Innovation Construction Materials and the ISOBIO project for supporting my PhD research at Bath. Being the first student to go under this scholarship from Bath, it has been a highly enriching experience right from the application process till the end of the internship. Special thanks to Prof Pierre Blanchet and Dr Diane Schorr at the Université Laval for their support for the smooth progress of my research work.

Atif Hussain at the Department of Wood and Forestry Sciences

Atif Hussain at the Department of Wood and Forestry Sciences