Our response to the UK Government’s initiative and investment in a new R&D roadmap

Group of staff pose in front of screen showing new ACU strategy
Dr Joanna Newman
Dr Joanna Newman

Dr Joanna Newman is Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU. She joined the ACU in April 2017 and is responsible for fostering and promoting the aims of the ACU, as defined by its membership, in developing inter-Commonwealth relations in the field of higher education.

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With the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit transforming the landscape in Higher Education, the ACU (Association of Commonwealth Universities) welcomes the UK Government’s initiative and investment in a new R&D roadmap. Universities have clearly demonstrated their essential role in delivering R&D in society during the COVID-19 pandemic. From cutting-edge medical science to supporting local communities, universities have shown the many ways they have an impact on society when it is needed most.

With delayed international landmark summits on the horizon – a UK-chaired CHOGM and a critical COP26 among them – it is vital that the UK helps shore up R&D momentum, supports mobility of ideas and people, and injects new evidence-based rigour to lead collaborative international action in the Commonwealth and beyond.

The ACU, host to the UK’s leading international scholarship and fellowship schemes, has long recognised and championed the life-changing opportunities afforded by investing in people and projects centred on research and international collaboration. Scholarships focused on R&D enhance the UK’s influence and diplomatic ability, increase trade and business links, and support development and prosperity.

The multiple track approach of the road map – to both attract international students to UK universities and to collaborate in international research partnerships – is especially welcome. Equally important is the focus on digital and tech, as this aligns with our own ACU Digital Now ambitions - to ensure that our vibrant global network continues to thrive not just in the short-term, while COVID-19 restricts global mobility and ways of working, but longer term too.

We are proud of the ways in which ACU members – over 500 member universities based in the UK and across the Commonwealth - have stepped up to lead the fight against COVID-19. As we continue to see the huge contribution made by universities, and we start to consider life beyond the pandemic, the Commonwealth network has a central role to play in helping position and support this initiative.