The meeting follows a UUKi delegation to Colombia in June which aimed to identify and facilitate opportunities for cooperation in teaching, research, postgraduate training and mobility. Alongside a focus on peace-building and transitional justice, the delegation also explored fast-developing opportunities for cooperation in research across the life sciences, social sciences and the arts and humanities.
Although the delegation only spanned five days in the cities of Bogota and Medellin, it was clear that there is immense scope for collaboration beyond Colombia's major metropolitan cities. Indeed, many discussions that took place during the delegation highlighted how universities can play a key role in urban regeneration – and, more specifically, bridging the gap between Colombia's urban and rural economies – as well as the development of industrial strategy. The potential for inclusion of private sector organisations to drive innovation forward was also a common theme for the delegation.
It is also anticipated that research will continue to play a key role in future partnerships between Colombia and the United Kingdom. Colombia is one of the 18 partnering countries for the Newton Fund - pointing to already-existing links – and the first 37 projects of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) were recently announced of which Colombia is a partner in four. Having a stake in more than 10% of projects that aim to tackle global crises is an indicator of the capacity the country has for innovation and research.
Clearly there is major scope for cooperation between the UK and Colombian HE sectors: the UK-Colombia delegation in June only reinforced this. The key to establishing a deeper and more inclusive relationship between the two sectors, however, may ultimately lie in a system-level strategy for engagement. Discussions around this point are ongoing. Watch the video from the delegation to Colombia in June here.