Swansea University will launch a partnership agreement with top universities in Texas this week in a bid to increase its global presence.
The large-scale partnership will see Swansea working strategically with strong universities in Texas to provide a massive increase in opportunities for staff and students through collaboration and exchanges.
The Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University are in Houston this week launching the joint ventures, meeting representatives from industry as well as senior figures from Texan universities.
“Active international links are critical in making Swansea the strong research intensive university it is and creating the outstanding career and life-enhancing opportunities enjoyed by our students,” said Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard B Davies.
“Our globalisation strategy emphasises the importance of strategic partnerships with strong universities elsewhere in the world. In addition to undergraduate, postgraduate and academic staff exchange programmes we are interested in joint activities which can extend from collaborative working with industry to shared appointments of academic staff.
“The University has recently appointed researchers with global reputations as Distinguished Research Professors. This will further boost our already high reputation for research excellence as we seek to fulfil our ambition of becoming one of the world’s top 100 universities by 2020. They will continue to work at their current universities, but will spend the equivalent of a fifth of their time working for Swansea. Three of these academic stars are based at Texan universities.
“We wish to encourage our Texas partners to reach across the ocean and join us on our exciting journey. They will have physical space, on our new £250m Science and Innovation Campus, and access to Swansea University facilities and a foothold in Europe.”
Swansea students will have the option of studying at Texas universities as an integral part of their degree programmes, and academics will be able to tackle more demanding research challenges with access to expertise and research facilities in Texas.
The partnership will include links with industry and will attract high-technology companies to the Swansea area. The University believes that the benefits to Wales will be substantial – working globally; Swansea will be able to deliver more locally.
Professor Davies said: “If I had to single out one activity from the large range of engagements planned within the partnership, it would be student exchanges. Swansea has run overseas exchange programmes for many years. We have seen how educationally beneficial it is to study in another country. We also know how positively employers view this type of overseas experience.
“On a personal note, I know how much one of my own sons gained from a year as a student in an American University. The Texas Partnership will enable Swansea to extend this opportunity to hundreds of students on courses ranging from the Arts and Humanities to Engineering.”
A physical infrastructure is being put in place to support the partnership; there will be a Swansea office in Houston, while the Texas universities will establish their European base on the new Swansea University Science and Innovation Campus.
Collaborative work is already under way between Swansea University and Texan institutions, including joint research with the Methodist Hospital Research Institute and the Institute of Life Sciences and Centre for NanoHealth at Swansea.
Swansea has also been working with Texas A&M on developing a therapeutics manufacturing facility and with Texas A&M and Rice University to develop a programme of research and training relating to global water, energy and fuel crises and their resolution.
“We want all of our universities to build strong international links with higher education institutions across the world,” said Minister for Education and Skills, Leighton Andrews.
“I congratulate Swansea on its established and growing collaboration with first-rate universities in Texas and hope that the shared trans-Atlantic research excellence will bring benefits to the University, its students and Wales as a whole.”
During the visit to Texas, the Vice-Chancellor and the Chancellor, former First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, will be signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Texan universities, and seeing first hand some of the groundbreaking, and often collaborative, research in energy, biotechnology, and nanohealth with its potential life-saving benefits in diagnosis and patient care energy and biotechnology.
Rhodri Morgan will also be giving a lecture on devolution, Wales and children’s rights at the George Bush Library in Houston, Texas.