2013 year in review - Part I

2013 year in review - Part I

Published on 06 January 2014

Reaching the milestone of turning 100 is a feat that’s not easily achieved. It is customary for British citizens to receive a 100th birthday message from Her Majesty the Queen. However, as Her Majesty is the Patron of the ACU, we were fortunate enough to be treated to an audience with her. That was just one highlight in a year full of celebration, collaboration and preparation for the future of higher education.


Piyansena Ranepura (pictured below) of the Ministry of Higher Education, Sri Lanka, paid a visit to the ACU in January, to finalise details of the Commonwealth Scholarships in Sri Lanka from the CSFP Endowment Fund.


The Commonwealth Students Association launched its strategic plan a few days after the ACU co-hosted their inaugural meeting at Marlborough House. During the launch, the ACU’s Deputy Secretary General, John Kirkland, remarked that “it was high time that [The Commonwealth] had a network of students”.

Later that month, the former vice-chancellor of Obafemi Owolowo University and author of Water Must Flow Uphill, Professor Roger Makanjuola (pictured below), delivered a talk titled 'Negotiating university politics through triumph and tragedy’, as part of the ACU's Perspectives series.

Just hours later, across the Irish Sea, another illustrious speaker Sir David King was at Queen’s University Belfast embarking on the first leg of the ACU Centenary Lecture Series, a tour that would see him also speak to audiences in Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia.


March was a busy month with ACU representatives attending the British Council’s Going Global conference on ‘Internationalising Higher Education’ in Dubai.

Graeme Hugo swapped the sun of Adelaide for sub-zero London temperatures to deliver a Perspectives talk, in which he called for more academic joint appointments and raised concerns about the impact that academic migration from developing to developed countries could have on the development of their home nations.

Cameroon and Swaziland were added to the list of countries that could receive postgraduate scholars in the 2013-2014 cycle of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan.

Sir David King (pictured below) concluded the ACU Centenary Lecture Series with a lecture in Kuala Lumpur, in which he considered what impact universities could have on the global challenges of the 21st century such as climate change, population growth and the scarcity of resources – a theme that the ACU would revive later in the year through its Beyond 2015 campaign.


Our third Perspectives speaker of the year was Professor Budd Hall, Professor of Community Development at the University of Victoria. He delivered a passionate presentation, in which he discussed the emergence of different approaches to the co-creation of knowledge, and the challenges that brings to the world of higher education.


Preparations continued to gather pace for the ACU Centenary Conference, which would take place at Senate House, University of London, in October.


The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Right Honourable John Bercow, hosted the ACU at his residence to kickstart in earnest the ACU’s Centenary celebrations. Ministers from both sides of the house spoke about the impact of the ACU throughout its 100 years, and of the importance of global collaboration in addressing global issues.


July began with the second DocLinks Summer School, which took place at the University of Helsinki, Finland. 23 doctoral students from across Europe and Africa attended the four-day programme, which aims to increase understanding and create links between them, thus supporting their research, training and career development. Lorraine Amollo, a researcher at University of Stellenbosch wrote:

“When I was not obsessing about the questions over my work, I was actually learning so much at this school. So many opportunities for funding, postdocs, research collaborations and posing for photos were opened up for me. But what stood out the most from all the discussions in this doctoral summer school was the need to communicate research findings and to do so effectively by acknowledging different audiences.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, preparations were being finalised in Sydney for another opportunity for African researchers, this time with their Australian counterparts, to discuss areas of mutual interest with policy-makers and officials. The AAUN and ACU will host a second meeting between these collaborators later in 2014 in South Africa.

The Planet Earth Institute held a major ‘UnConference’ exploring Africa’s scientific independence on the 11th July. The ACU’s Dr Andy Cherry and Tom Harber hosted a well-received roundtable session on communicating scientific research.

Simultaneously, members of the Graduate Employment Network were in Auckland for their three-day network conference, themed Exploring the value of higher education to the economy. Dr Andreas Schleicher gave the keynote address in which he posed the question, ‘Are universities fit for purpose?’ and opined that universities should start viewing learning as a life-long activity.

What turned out to be a busy month ended with the announcement of the first tranche of awardees of the ACU’s Early Career Academic Grants. 20 emerging academics from six Commonwealth countries were awarded grants to attend meetings and conferences outside of their region.

Rebecca Hardwick from the University of Exeter used her grant to attend the 21st Colchare Colloquium in Canada, after which she wrote:

"The best bit of the week was the time spent talking to other researchers about their work... All in all, it was an experience that I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend and participate in, and I am thankful to ACU for making it possible."

A further 80 grants will be awarded under this scheme.

Part II of the year in review to follow.