Universities UK hosted the
strategic dialogue which was attended by Vice Chancellors of nine leading
universities; senior UK Government officials; Australia’s High Commissioner to
the United Kingdom Alexander Downer; and representatives of Universities
Australia, Universities UK and Universities Scotland.
Universities UK and Universities Australia have
been working closely together for some years on policy exchange and joint
projects, and has previously convened an advisory group of senior
vice-chancellors to lead this dialogue.
The meeting was significant in terms of the
context. The strong prospect of a trade deal between the UK and Australia in
the foreseeable future; and an opportunity to reappraise and reenergise
UK-Australia collaboration in the lead up to the UK’s exit from the EU; created
the conditions for a very constructive and targeted discussion.
The meeting examined how to deepen bilateral
ties through the exchange of academic and research talent, university research
collaborations, reciprocal access to data and infrastructure, and the prospect
of establishing a special reciprocal visa for academic talent.
The group also examined the
feasibility of establishing a new bilateral research fund to take joint
research to a new level of collaboration.
Universities UK Chief Executive
Nicola Dandridge said: 'The time is right to reappraise and reenergise this
relationship. Today’s meeting will convene some of our most experienced
university leaders, alongside senior UK and Australian officials, to identify
those areas of university-led education, training, research and innovation in
which our higher education systems can work together to achieve even more
impact - regionally, nationally and globally.'
Professor Ed Byrne, President and
Principal of King’s College London, added: 'The quality and impact of the
research when UK and Australian university researchers work together to tackle
complex questions has been strong. Whether it is in blue skies research, or in
developing innovative, applied solutions for business and industry. Those
partnerships provide us with a firm basis for building even stronger
collaborations in future.'
Universities Australia Chief
Executive Belinda Robinson commented: 'We see enormous potential to expand the
depth and breadth of the bilateral relationship through our respective
High Commissioner Alexander
Downer said: 'Australia and the UK are old friends, and we hope the
friendship will become even closer as the UK makes its preparations to leave
the EU. I am encouraged to see that higher education institutions have taken
the initiative and started to think about the benefits of greater collaboration
between our two countries, particularly in the field of academic
University of Wollongong
Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings, who was instrumental in the
establishment of the dialogue, said it was an historic opportunity that would
benefit both nations: 'As the UK’s relationship with the EU shifts, Australia
has a unique opportunity to enhance bilateral relations with the UK and to
position itself to participate in any new third or multi-party consortia. “There’s
an important role for the Australian Government to help position Australian
education and research institutions to be part of any future UK research
Universities Australia also
formally extended its deepest sympathies to UK colleagues in the wake of the
attack in Manchester this week.