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An opportunity for QECS scholars to collaborate on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Published on 27 September 2021

None of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be achieved without the contribution of higher education - through research, teaching, and community engagement - and that is why the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the University of Manchester are joining forces to provide access to a ground-breaking course for Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarship (QECS) Scholars. 

Students around the world are playing an important role in developing solutions that bring about real, meaningful change, and through this collaboration QECS scholars will contribute to tackling challenges like poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice, gender and LGBTQ+ rights, equality of access, and indigenous rights. 

The online course, designed by Dr Jennifer O’Brien at the University College for Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL) at the University of Manchester  – ‘Creating a Sustainable World: 21st Century Challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals’, – breaks away from traditional teaching formats, as the course content is shaped and developed by the students taking part. Based on the premise that we need to work in partnership to achieve any of the SDGs, the course brings together students from across the spectrum of academic disciplines and combines their knowledge to develop unique, practical solutions to global challenges.

QECS scholars will be perfectly placed to take advantage of the course. QECS offers an opportunity to study a two-year Master’s degree in a low or middle-income Commonwealth country. The scholarships are unique in creating new directions in international study, away from the ‘Global North’ as the traditional destination for international scholarships. 

By supporting students from all over the Commonwealth to study in low and middle income countries, QECS recognises the wealth of knowledge that exists at universities across the world and creates transformative opportunities for young people from a wide range of academic disciplines who are committed to having a positive impact. The benefit of this course to their work will be far-reaching, but the course will also benefit from their participation.

With QECS scholars based from Trinidad and Tobago to Sri Lanka, the course will evolve to include their rich, global insights and perspectives. Every iteration of the course is different, with students shaping the content for their class and those that come after, and this collaboration will be no different.

Joanna Newman, Secretary General of the ACU said: ‘We are delighted to partner with the University of Manchester to offer this course to QECS scholars. With more than 60% of the Commonwealth’s 2.4 billion people aged under 30, the voices of young people have never been more important. Students are our future leaders, researchers, inventors, and change-makers, and I am certain that, as these talented scholars begin to learn from each other and collaborate, the ideas and solutions that emerge will have a real impact on the world.’

Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Manchester said:  


'The University of Manchester is delighted to be playing its part, drawing upon its recognised leading position in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to provide this course to Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholars in partnership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities. 

'By participating in this course with the University of Manchester, the Scholars will develop a better understanding of the role they can play in delivering on the SDGs and how policy and academia can contribute to the same goal and we are delighted to welcome them.'

Further information about the course

Over 80 experts have contributed to this programme including Professor David Hulme (Global Development Institute), Khalid Malik (The United Nations), Sarah Lagot Odwong (Population Services International, Uganda), Professor Kevin Anderson (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research), Dr. Manisha Anatharaman (Saint Mary's College, California), Professor Amanda Bamford (Division of Evolution & Genomic Sciences), Carly Koinage (UN Habitat), Dr Susie Miles (Manchester Institute of Education), Professor James Evans (Manchester Urban Institute), Professor Michael Shaver (Manchester School of Materials) and Professor Paulo Bartolo (School of Engineering).

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