Highlights of the year 2018

Highlights of the year 2018

Published on 17 December 2018

It's been a very busy year at the ACU. We've made great strides in our core areas of activity – from further developing our scholarships and fellowships offering, to driving innovation and building capacity through our projects and programmes.

We've also worked in partnership with our members to deliver unique events across the Commonwealth.

Read on for our highlights of 2018!


The year began with the announcement of a new partnership agreement with the British Council, signalling the ACU's commitment to working more closely with other like-minded organisations in the sector. This partnership maximises the synergies between the ACU and the British Council, creating new opportunities for collaboration on areas such as academic mobility and capacity building.


Next up, saw the ACU take a delegation of vice-chancellors to the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) in Fiji. Many great outcomes were achieved, including the Commonwealth Education Pledge – signed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth of Learning and the ACU – which... 

Ministers also endorsed our plan to set up a Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network, led by ACU member universities who are on the frontline of climate change. 


Building on the momentum of our partnership agreement with the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), our South Asia representative Aditya Malkani attended the AIU's annual conference, where he contributed to crucial discussions on the future of Indian higher education.


Marking the most important date in the Commonwealth calendar, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) convened in London, where the ACU strongly advocated for the important role universities play around the Commonwealth – both in their communities and beyond.

HRH Prince Harry – in his first role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador – announced the renaming and expansion of the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships scheme. A fantastic achievement for the ACU and an important endorsement of the Commonwealth's renewed focus on young people.


May saw the ACU travel to Malaysia for the British Council's annual Going Global conference, which centred on the theme 'Global connections, local impact'. Our Chief Executive and Secretary General, Dr Joanna Newman, spoke on two panels, where she highlighted the incredible work our members are carrying out.

Going Global also provided a unique opportunity to bring together representatives of our member universities with our partners at the British Council to discuss what the future of higher education should look like. 

This month also saw the UK Government grant our CIRCLE programme a year-long extension – thanks to this funding, we have been able to provide further support to emerging climate change researchers in sub-Saharan Africa.


During a visit to Canada, the ACU became the latest signatory to the Declaration of Montreal – uniting us with all the major international bodies representing universities across the world, committing us to work together to solve global challenges. 


'Designing and creating sustainable communities' was the theme of our annual Summer School, which was expertly hosted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

Hong Kong provided a unique setting for students to develop their knowledge and skills, by immersing themselves in the local culture and visiting important local sights, and devise solutions to what sustainable urban communities could look like in the future.


Focussing on the importance of student experience, international partnerships and sustainability, this year's Strategic Management Programme gave senior leaders a space to debate and discuss ways to improve the operation of their institutions, culminating with a workshop at York University, Canada.

If you'd like to take part in the 2019 programme, register your interest here


What will the universities of the future look like – and what role do HR professionals have to play in this? This was the subject of debate at our 8th biennial ACU HR in HE conference at the University of Waterloo in Canada, which also marked 15 years of the ACU HR in HE Community.


One of our biggest trips to date saw senior representatives from the ACU embark on a tour of the Pacific region to meet with members, deepen relationships with partners, and launch our new policy networks – the Commonwealth Peace and Reconciliation Network and the Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network. We were privileged to be at the University of the South Pacific (USP) to hear The Duke and Duchess of Sussex speak as part of their golden jubilee celebrations, where HRH The Duke of Sussex announced new Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships in the field of climate change and HRH The Duchess of Sussex revealed new Gender Grants for universities in the region. 

Not to be outdone, our programmes team received funding from the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to launch a new programme designed to boost marine plastics research and innovation in the Commonwealth. The project is two-fold, comprising ACU Blue Charter Fellowships and a capacity audit – find out more about this innovative programme here.


Led by our Secretary General, a delegation of senior university leaders from the UK travelled to Pakistan to join forces with the British Council and the Higher Education Commission to launch the Pakistan-UK Gateway.

We were also delighted that Pakistan announced it will host 10 new Commonwealth scholarships – with one specifically for gender studies – from next year, marking the latest expansion of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.


The month began with an event – hosted by King's College London – where we brought together senior leaders, academics and Commonwealth Scholars to discuss how we can build a better world through higher education. We were delighted that HRH The Duchess of Sussex attended these discussions, following her speech at USP in October.

Finally, we saw many months of work come to fruition with the launch of the first round of Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships.

Supporting scholars to study for a Master's at leading ACU member institutions in low and middle income countries across the Commonwealth, these unique scholarships include opportunities to study public health at the University of Mauritius and climate change at the University of the West Indies – among many others. Applications close on 6 February 2019read more here.

Thank you to all our members, partners, scholars and those who've attended and participated in our events and workshops. We couldn't do it without you!