International Relations Office

Updates on the University's global engagement activities

Topic: Visit

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

MAIT students on internship at EU delegation in China

📥  Event, Partnership, Visit

We are currently on a several-month-long translation and interpreting internship at the EU delegation in Beijing, China, where we are working under the tutelage of Tom Peart, the in-house interpreter at the EU delegation in Beijing, to translate important documents from Chinese into English and English into Chinese for the EU delegation website on a wide variety of subjects ranging from agriculture, economics and trade, technical standards, human rights, politics and education.

Bath MAIT graduates, Yang Yingxi, Liu Bingling and Jin Ge with Tom Peart, EU in-house interpreter outside the EU delegation in Beijing

Bath MAIT graduates, Yang Yingxi, Liu Bingling and Jin Ge with Tom Peart, EU in-house interpreter outside the EU delegation in Beijing

As part of the internship, we have also had the chance to interpret for the EU delegation in meetings on the foreign NGO law in China, for the Finnish ambassador to China on human rights and arts, and most recently for several European companies at the China International Circular Economy Exhibition. One of our first jobs at the EU delegation was to interpret some introductory remarks at the opening ceremony of the EU Film Festival in China in front of a large audience.

These interpreting opportunities are a great way for us to further consolidate our skills, perform in real interpreting situations and put into practice the key note-taking and consecutive interpreting techniques that we learnt on the MA in Interpreting and Translation at Bath. Consecutive interpreting is where the interpreter takes notes and then renders a speech into another language after the speakers have finished speaking. Sometimes this means interpreting a few sentences at a time, but at other times speakers speak for up to six to seven minutes without stopping. That is where our memory skills and ability to take notes well really comes into play. Add to that the pressure of having to face a live audience who are awaiting expectantly for you to deliver the message of the speech in a clear and coherent manner, and consecutive interpreting can be a somewhat stressful experience. Nonetheless, the process of interpreting is also very enjoyable and extremely rewarding. Nothing beats the feeling of having done a really good job in an interpreting situation.

Written translation, whilst often less stressful, can also be tough and demanding. But once again, the hours spent working on important translation assignments can be very rewarding as it is always great to see our translation work posted on the EU delegation website.

For the past three years, this internship has run through an open competition. However, the vast majority of these internship places have been filled by Bath graduates that have completed the MA in Interpreting and Translation. This is a great opportunity for us and we hope that other Bath interpreting and translation graduates will see the value of internships such as these that fill an important gap between the classroom and the workplace.

Yang Yingxi, Liu Bingling and Jin Ge studied MA Interpreting and Translating at the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies. 

 

Interpreting for the Portuguese Prime Minister

📥  Event, Visit

I’ve just returned from China where, as an interpreter, I was part of the official five-day state visit led by the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, designed to strengthen ties between the two nations.

This is not the first time I’ve provided interpretation at high-level meetings between Portugal and China, but being privy to important discussions about trade and cooperation is always an exhilarating experience. During this most recent delegation, I provided interpretation between Prime Minister Costa and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and President of the Chinese National People’s Congress, Zhang Dejiang.

Miguel Fialho interpreting in a meeting between the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa and President of the Chinese National People's Congress, Mr Zhang Dejiang

Miguel Fialho interpreting in a meeting between the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa and President of the Chinese National People's Congress, Mr Zhang Dejiang (Photo credit: Official photographs provided by the Prime Minister's Office)

During the visit, Prime Minister Costa visited Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and the former Portuguese colony of Macao, where he took part in the Fifth Macao Forum for Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. I was responsible for interpreting, both consecutive and simultaneous, for all of the Prime Minister’s speeches, and for interpreting between Portuguese and Mandarin at all the high-level meetings at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Miguel Fialho interpreting at a meeting between the Portuguese Prime Minister and the Mayor of Shanghai

Miguel Fialho interpreting at a meeting between the Portuguese Prime Minister and the Mayor of Shanghai (Photo credit: Official photographs provided by the Prime Minister's Office)

Miguel Fialho interpreting at an interview by a Chinese media organisation in Shenzhen, China

Miguel Fialho interpreting at an interview by a Chinese media organisation in Shenzhen, China (Photo credit: Official photographs provided by the Prime Minister's Office)

The delegation was considered an important step in furthering cooperation between Portugal and China. In discussions, officials expressed the wish to deepen cooperation by strengthening trade, economic and cultural ties, and to further people-to-people contacts by continuing to provide a good environment for two-way investment and working together to use Macao as a platform for cooperation between China, Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries.

Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world as a mother tongue (more spoken in fact than French or Russian). China recognises the importance of the Portuguese language as an essential tool for communication. This is especially true between Portuguese-speaking countries as geographically and culturally diverse as Brazil, Angola and Mozambique in Africa, and East Timor in Asia.

During the talks, Portugal expressed the wish to engage in more collaborative research into marine technologies, volcanology, climatology and other areas affecting the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. Among other matters on the agenda, officials also discussed the use of the Port of Sines - the largest deep water port on Portugal’s long Atlantic Coast - as a gateway to Europe for the new Super Panamax ships that will come through the extended Panama Canal from the Pacific.

Exchange of gifts at Tsinghua University, Beijing

Exchange of gifts at Tsinghua University, Beijing (Photo credit: Official photographs provided by the Prime Minister's Office)

Mr Miguel Fialho joined the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies in September 2013 as Teaching Fellow in Interpreting/Translating (English-Chinese). He teaches on the Chinese stream of the MA in Interpreting and Translating. He is an EU-accredited conference interpreter (Chinese-English).

Miguel has acted as the official interpreter of the Portuguese delegation on all high-level visits between the Portuguese and Chinese governments since 2007, including for the visit of Portuguese President, Cavaco Silva, to China in 2014.

 

October visits from Oman and Jordan

📥  Event, Partnership, Visit

This month we welcomed delegations from Oman and Jordan.

Visit from Oman Ministry of Education, 11 October

Dr Al Kharusi was here to gain an understanding of our student support services and work placement options, as well as exploring the possibility of sending fully funded students to Bath to study at undergraduate level in the Faculty of Science and the Department of Education. Dr Al Kharusi met with colleagues from the Admissions and Outreach team and Faculty of Science.

Visit from Jordanian universities, 12 October

Representatives from the British Council, Princess Sumaya University for Technology, German Jordanian University, Queen Rania Centre for Entrepreneurship, Jordan Applied University and Al Quds College visited Bath as part of a UK study tour.

The visit was hosted by Professor Peter Lambert (Pro-Vice-Chancellor Learning and Teaching) and provided an opportunity for members of the roundtable (Dr Joe Devine, Dr Mary Hayden, Professor Jeff Thompson, Professor David Coley and Dr Jason Hart) to present an overview of their work in Jordan. The visitors later met with colleagues from the School of Management and Research & Innovation Services. The visit finished with a session on employability and student experience, getting information from International Mobility colleagues and placement managers, along with representatives from the Careers Service and the Students' Union.

The visit was well received and led to an invitation for Professor Lambert to visit the German Jordanian University.

 

Greetings from Seoul!

📥  International Strategy, Partnership, Research, Visit

Seoul in September is a city in transition from the baking heat and humidity of high summer to something crisper and altogether more comfortable for a northern European like me. Over the 10 days I have been in South Korea, I have seen - and felt - this transition take place as more autumnal weather arrives in town. Tomorrow I shall be coming back home to Bath.

Overlooking Seoul, South Korea

Overlooking Seoul, South Korea

My trip to Seoul was made possible by an award of £4,000 from the University of Bath’s International Research Accelerator Scheme to visit colleagues at Yonsei University, as part of a planned research project with the provisional title Discounting our future: towards an understanding of how we model pure time preference and how this impacts upon environmental policy making. Once again, I would like to thank the University and colleagues who took the time to look at my proposal and give me this opportunity to deepen research links with colleagues at Yonsei.

Hans Schattle, who is a Professor of Political Science at Yonsei and also visited Bath last year as part of our Global Mobility Scheme, is hosting me on my visit. I first met Professor Schattle when I visited Yonsei as part of a University of Bath delegation in June 2013. We have kept in touch, through a PoLIS delegation I led to Yonsei in October 2013 and at the official University of Bath reception hosted in Seoul in October 2014 by our Vice Chancellor and Chancellor. Yonsei University is one of Bath’s key strategic partners and my working relationship with Professor Schattle is further evidence of our International Strategy starting to generate stable and productive research collaboration around the world.

While I was in Seoul, I also hosted a reception for a group of Bath alumni in the buzzy downtown district of Gangnam (made familiar to many outside South Korea through the K-pop star PSY’s worldwide hit ‘Gangnam Style'). We had a really excellent turnout, with one alumnus travelling over three and half hours from elsewhere in South Korea to attend the event. Bath alumni also took the opportunity to wish the University of Bath a Happy 50th Anniversary. I would like to thank Cassie Long for her organisation at the University of Bath and to our local alumni volunteer Youseok Cho, who was responsible for the logistics in Gangnam.

Meeting Bath alumni at the Reception

Meeting Bath alumni at the Reception

Finally, whilst at Yonsei, I gave a public lecture on what still appears to be the number one topic worldwide at present: Brexit. Over 50 students, Bath alumni, and other stakeholders attended the lecture and the question and answer session was a pleasure: Yonsei students are sharp, well informed, and engaged. Just like our own students, in fact, whom I look forward to teaching again in just over a week’s time.

Professor Charlie Lees at the public lecture

Professor Charlie Lees at the public lecture in Seoul

Charlie Lees is the Professor of Politics at the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies. 

Building marketing links with Stellenbosch University

📥  Partnership, Visit

In February a delegation of five academic members from the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' Department of Psychology planned to visit one of our strategic partners, Stellenbosch University. It presented a good opportunity for me to understand this increasingly important area of the University's activity.

Tasked with the dual brief of (a) understanding common areas of research to inform the Dean's plans for a future faculty delegation and (b) to establish contacts with marketing and communications staff, I prepared for the visit, putting together presentations and pre-loading memory sticks with faculty information, research videos and institutional publications.

Day one was exploratory. After a campus tour (it's beautiful, spacious and Eduroam works all across campus!) with Huba Boshoff, the International Partnerships Manager, I met with marketing staff from Stellenbosch's Postgraduate International Office (PGIO) to discuss objectives, commonalities and to swap overviews of the marketing structure and functions within the respective organisations.

Meanwhile the psychology team had a thoroughly productive day with Stellenbosch's psychology department, with both groups giving formal presentations on their areas of research and using the remaining time to get to know each other.

Bath & Stellenbosch Psychology Departments

Bath & Stellenbosch Psychology Departments

In the evening we were taken to dinner by the psychology group, where we discussed further research synergies (everything from disability health to the treatment of people with learning difficulties in the criminal justice system), the higher education situation in both countries, and plenty of non-work topics.

Day two started with an early appointment with Dr Johanna Steyn, an academic member of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (one of the institution's ten faculties, which incorporates departments of Political Sciences, Psychology, Social Work and Sociology & Social Anthropology amongst others). Johanna's teaching responsibility includes Modern Foreign Languages - with undergraduate language degrees in French, German and Chinese and a new BSc International Business which includes compulsory language units until year two, and a semester-long business placement. She also sits on the Faculty's marketing and communications committee.

This meeting called for an overview of the Faculty's structure to consider shared areas of interest and an explanation of our marketing approach. With a much less competitive UG and PG market in South Africa the faculty's marketing revolves around an annual open day (attendees largely visit with their schools, only a handful of students from further afield in the country visit independently with their parents) and some webinars to reach more remote communities (again broadcast in schools). Many applicants are first generation students so marketing material focuses on information - terms explained, application process laid out in a roadmap and timeframes highlighted. Johanna was interested in our comprehensive approach to promotional campaigns and conversion communications, our use of augmented reality and the faculty's new videos highlighting our real-world impact.

A second, productive meeting followed with Wayne Muller from the central communications & liaison team, which incorporates publications (annual report, donor report, research summaries and alumni magazine - the wonderfully titled Matieland), internal comms, media engagement, digital, events (graduations, inaugurals, convocation), photography/videography and social media. We discussed the ways in which we could work together - developing research case studies, photographing visiting academics 'on location' and creating more in-depth content about the strategic partnership for relevant publications. Wayne then introduced me to the team including the incoming Senior Director for the division who was keen to encourage joint initiatives.

My next meeting was with Alecia and Sarah, responsible for International Student Mobility, who have already established successful links with Bath's International Mobility team for the exchange of students in both directions. We discussed the faculty's undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and the potential for study abroad, and proposed an action plan to move forward.

Day three started with a meeting with Lynne Moses, Marketing & Communications Officer, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. We discussed common areas of marketing activity and Lynne was interested to hear about the webinars that we run for PG conversion. With many students unable to fund the cost of living during their undergraduate studies the faculty are devising a campaign to attract more alumni donors to support these students - so Lynne was really interested to hear about the videos and Scholarship Ceremony organised by the Department of Development & Alumni Relations. We proposed to create a research case study on the joint project currently taking place between Professor Mark Tomlinson (Stellenbosch) and Dr Sarah Halligan (University of Bath) which focuses on childhood trauma which could be used across various media in South Africa and on our research/departmental web pages.

Finally, Huba and I set about planning the faculty's research delegation - creating a list of key departments/personnel to approach in each institution to then identify relevant academics to make the visit as fruitful as possible.

The visit was informative, productive and enjoyable – the relationship building was invaluable and the marketing and pr opportunities with our strategic partners became much more apparent – I’m looking forward to developing these areas in the near future.

Paula Smith (Psychology), Christine Griffin (Psychology), Emily Richards and Michelle St Clair (Psychology)

Paula Smith (Psychology), Christine Griffin (Psychology), Emily Richards and Michelle St Clair (Psychology)

Emily Richards is the Marketing & Communications Manager at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

 

Joint activities to raise Bath's profile in Mexico

📥  Event, Partnership, Visit

On the 17th February I set off for Mexico City and Bogota, on a visit aimed at meeting with and attracting students to come and study at Bath, consisting of Education Fairs and individual student interviews facilitated by our agents in Mexico and Colombia.

Historic centre of Mexico City

Historic centre of Mexico City

Historic centre of Mexico City

Historic centre of Mexico City

The weekend of 20 and 21 February was spent in the Centro Banamex, just outside of Mexico City at the FPP Eduexpo, with higher education institutions from all over the world hoping to meet with high-quality students.

Normally I manage the Bath stand at these fairs alone, or with the help of an agent, or perhaps even one academic from the University of Bath. But this time I was lucky enough to get help from a group of academic staff and PhD students from our Department of Mathematical Sciences (Professor Andreas Kyprianou, Dr Gavin Shaddick, Dr Dan Simpson, Dr Karim Anaya-Izquierdo plus PhD students Dorka Fekete, Matt Thomas and Alice Davis) who had come to Mexico for their 2nd BUC (Bath-UNAM-CIMAT) joint workshop on the theme of 'Thinking Globally: The Role of Big Data', which was taking place at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) from 22 to 24 February.

I was also glad to hear from Matt Thomas, our maths PhD student, who really enjoyed helping out at the fair. He told me: "I was pleasantly surprised about the popularity of University of Bath, and during the day I spoke to many different students from different disciplines promoting the University to them. Having been an undergrad at Bath too, I could talk to the students at different levels. They were very interested in hearing a student perspective on the university and hopefully this will encourage a few students to apply at least!"

I’d asked if perhaps one or two of the group could pop along to help me during the weekend fair, so I was quite surprised when the whole group of 7 showed up, willing to help and talk to potential applicants, despite the fact that many of them hadn’t done this before. Normally I would think a stand manned by 8 people is a little excessive, but in fact we were rushed off our feet! The fact that our stand already looked busy helped to draw in more crowds, so we created a good buzz around the Bath stand – something to think about for future events maybe?

It was great to have help from the BUC group and I was so impressed by their willingness to engage with potential applicants.

University of Bath stand at FPP Eduexpo

University of Bath stand at FPP Eduexpo

The following Monday was the first day of the BUC workshop at UNAM, with a mini-conference for the PhD students planned for the afternoon. In the morning I joined forces with Silvia Ruiz Velasco from IIMAS at UNAM, which is the Research Institute for Applied Maths and Systems, to present our postgraduate programmes at UNAM and Bath respectively. Our audience was a mix of maths students from different institutions and levels, and our aim was to make them aware of the opportunities for Masters and PhD study at both institutions, also highlighting the opportunities for exchange of staff and students.

I found it really interesting and rewarding to be able to join forces with maths colleagues and PhD students to ensure that there was some synergy between our activities in international student recruitment and partnership development. This approach really helps to raise our profile in Mexico, and demonstrates our desire to engage on many different levels. This engagement in Mexico is important to key partners like Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT), who fund all of our Mexican PhD and most of our Masters students at Bath (a total of 17 students).

Along with Andreas Kyprianou, Gavin Shaddick and Victor Rivero from the CONACyT research institute for Mathematics (CIMAT), we went to meet with Pablo Rojo Calzada, Director of Scholarships and his team at CONACyT, to tell them more about the BUC workshops, and inform them about the value of doctoral training centres such as SAMBa at Bath. We also invited Pablo to come for a visit to Bath in June for the next BUC workshop and Integrated Think Tank, involving industrial partners.

BUC workshop representatives at UNAM

BUC workshop representatives at UNAM