Meet Professor Clare McManus, our Dean for Global Engagement (South-east Asia & Australasia)

Clare highlights the strategic partnership between the University of Glasgow and the University of Sydney as an example of successful international collaboration, and she invites Glasgow’s other partners from the region to get in touch to explore further opportunities for collaboration.

Working closely with Glasgow’s External Relations Directorate, I lead on international partnership activities for the University of Glasgow with higher education institutions and other stakeholders across South-east Asia (SEA) and Australasia.

We have had considerable success in developing research and teaching partnerships with universities in SEA and Australasia. Historically, most of this engagement has been through face-to-face activities when we have welcomed our partners to Glasgow; or when our researchers, staff and students have travelled to the region to engage in research and teaching and exchange of best practice.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led the University of Glasgow, and universities around the world, to modify their approaches to internationalisation. We have moved many of our international activities online in order to continue to fulfil our core mission to undertake world-leading research and teaching. And we have done this in collaboration with our global partners as part of our commitment to improve societies and address major world challenges, including the current pandemic, during these difficult times.

Of course, I do miss visiting our partners in the region, especially the warm welcomes, fruitful conversations about collaboration accompanied by delicious food and amazing landscapes; however, I have been impressed by how well we have been able to connect and collaborate online. We've all acquired great expertise in using digital technology and developing innovative online ways of engaging globally within a very short space of time. Hosting webinars, running online seminars and coffee morning/afternoon/evening catch-ups (depending on time zones) with our international partners has become the ‘new normal’.

Spotlight on our strategic partnership with the University of Sydney, Australia

Our strong commitment to international engagement is exemplified by the strategic partnership which we have with the University of Sydney (USyd). It is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016 in which both universities have committed to work closely to develop a range of joint teaching and research opportunities. Together we run a Partnership Collaboration Award to support research and other collaborative activities between Glasgow and Sydney with both universities allocating funding annually to support joint projects.

In September 2020, Glasgow and Sydney held a Joint Virtual Workshop which highlighted some of the exciting collaborations, and discussed ways to create and develop new connections and access opportunities for external funding.

One of the projects highlighted was ‘Exploring Mars Atom by Atom’ led by Professor Martin Lee (Head of School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, UofG) and Professor Julie Cairney (School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, USyd). This project will develop globally recognised capability in the atomic scale analysis of extra-terrestrial materials obtained by robotic missions to Mars, the Moon and passing asteroids; and will enable Glasgow and Sydney to lead international efforts to analyse these unique and exciting samples. There are plans for more events to facilitate meaningful virtual engagement for staff and students from our two universities.

When the COVID-19 crisis hit the world, Glasgow immediately embraced new virtual ways of collaborating with our international partners. As the crisis progressed, we were able to engage internationally in exciting and innovative ways. Consequently, we have numerous fantastic examples of international collaboration which we would love to share.