When the Commonwealth Heads of Government came together earlier this month to find solutions to our shared global challenges, it was a momentous occasion for civil society organisations like the ACU to pitch in and influence the future direction of our democracies. We were there to champion the role of higher education in building sustainable and inclusive societies, and provided a voice for all universities across the Commonwealth.
A key highlight of the week came at the opening where HRH Prince Harry announced new Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, which the ACU is proud to manage from 2019. These will enable 150 new scholars to access life-changing study opportunities across universities in low and middle income Commonwealth countries. I recommend that you read Dr Faye Taylor’s blog on the importance of international mobility in the Commonwealth.
The importance of research partnerships and the benefits of working together across various Commonwealth countries was clear throughout the summit, not least our development of a Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network, spearheaded by three member institutions – Fiji National University, the University of the South Pacific, and the University of the West Indies. At a reception hosted by the Royal Society, I was honoured to be asked to speak alongside the President, himself a Nobel Laureate, and the UK Minister of State for Universities, Sam Gyimah MP, to celebrate these vital partnerships, and recognise the innovation brought about by Commonwealth-wide collaborations. It was also fascinating to meet some of the Commonwealth Rutherford Fellows and learn more about their research.
If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you and your colleagues to apply for an ACU Fellowships. These support collaborative international visits for academic and professional staff at member universities, with either a research or fact-finding focus. You can read a past fellow’s experience in the new edition of the Bulletin, along with dozens of other great articles on topics ranging from building resilient universities, supporting scholars at risk, and tackling youth unemployment.
Finally, do read Alex Wright’s opinion piece on the Commonwealth’s unique convening power, and the role the ACU can play in that through leveraging its own networks.
We want to celebrate the diversity of our membership so please contribute to ‘Commonwealth Stories’, our new campaign to showcase people’s experiences of life across the network of Commonwealth countries.
ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General