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UCL is today launching a new Cities partnerships Programme (CpP) to invest in and extend research and teaching collaborations in multiple city locations around the world - with Rome and Paris named as the first two cities.
The programme’s distinctive focus on a city rather than a specific partner means that UCL academics from across the university are able to work with the partners they feel are the best in their particular field - collaboratively shaping the activity, developing a broad programme of multidisciplinary research and education that is relevant and innovative.
The CpP is led by academic directors who have significant links to the cities. Activity in Rome is led by Dr Florian Mussgnug (UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society) and in Paris by Dr Claire Colomb (UCL Bartlett School of Planning).
UCL is the most successful higher education institute in collaborative research in Europe. Its academic staff are involved in 167 collaborative research projects with funding totalling over ¤94 million, and collaborated on journal articles with colleagues from over one thousand European organisations, including more than 475 universities in 2016.
The CpP has been developed in response to concerns within the higher education sector about the future of European collaborations post-Brexit. Launching in a new city each year, the programme will build sustainable partnerships over three years through three strands of activity: seed-funding for academic collaborations in research, teaching and learning; a series of public-facing events co-created with institutional partners and inspired by the seed-funded projects; and activities engaging the wider UCL network of students, alumni, schools and other partners.
UCL has chosen Rome for the first of the CpP cities as more than 50 years after the Treaty of Rome, the Italian capital continues to represent European unity and is a fitting location to explore the ’Future of Europe’ - the theme for a series of academic events curated by Dr Mussgnug.
UCL already has a strong record of collaborations in Rome with high-ranking universities and other prestigious partners - including Sapienza University, Roma Tre University, LUISS Guido Carli University and the British School at Rome.
Dr Nicola Brewer, UCL Vice-Provost (International) said: "After the Brexit referendum in 2016, we took a long, hard look at what that would mean for how we work in and with Europe. This is about more than EU research funding or recruitment of EU students and staff. It’s about the free exchange of ideas and knowledge. It is also about partnerships of equivalence, of mutual trust and respect, with benefits flowing in both directions.
"No single country or institution, however prestigious - and UCL is undoubtedly world leading - can tackle the complex global challenges we are all facing alone. We’re on this planet together and we need to find solutions to our problems together. Bringing together the brightest minds, from across the world, accelerates the process of discovery. We mustn’t let Brexit reverse that.
"Rather than adopt a single partnership approach as other institutions have done, UCL has chosen to adopt a more inclusive approach, based on partnerships but focused on particular global cities, starting in Europe."
Dr Florian Mussgnug, academic director of the Rome Cities partnerships Programme, added: "Educated in Britain, Italy and Germany, I am proud of UCL’s reputation as a global academic leader in continental Europe, and applaud our commitment to international excellence. As Academic Director of the Cities partnerships Programme, I will seek to consolidate UCL’s important role through new initiatives and by strengthening the strategic partnerships that have already emerged.
"What draws us to Rome, above and beyond the city’s unrivalled wealth of historical sites and cultural artefacts, is the wish to respond actively and fully to these challenges, in line with UCL’s distinctive ethos of cosmopolitanism, radicalism and innovative thinking. For those of us who have benefitted most from international collaboration and mobility, this is the time to stand up for the future of higher education, and to join the battle to keep British universities in Europe."