A smiling female lecturer at a blackboard writing out an equation with chalk.

Many of the partnership initiatives supported by the British Council lead to staff and student mobility. In addition to this we run a number of programmes such UKIERI and the Newton Fund which offer staff at UK higher education institutions (HEIs) the opportunity to enhance their networks, develop new skills and broaden their research base.

Sharing knowledge and understanding across national boundaries can play an instrumental role in rebuilding healthy economies and adapting education to succeed in a post-Covid world. 

In science our support is focussed particularly on early career researchers and on science communication. The opportunities we offer through the Newton Fund give young researchers the opportunity to make a start in building the international networks that can really help to develop their career in science.

How this works in practice

For academics

Cardiff University and their counterparts at the Ilia State University in Georgia have created a training programme in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF CBT) as a result of Erasmus + mobility grants managed by the British Council.

Not only is the project contributing to both institutions' internationalisation strategies, it is also helping to improve the understanding of individuals affected by trauma.

Professor Bisson, from the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neuroscience at Cardiff initially travelled to Georgia to share expertise with the community of mental health professionals and psychotraumatologists.

The group that came together with him, from Ilia State University (ISU), the Georgian Society of Psychotrauma, the Foundation Global Initiative on Psychiatry and other local organisations, were keen to build a ‘Training of Trainers’ programme in TF CBT for Georgian professionals.

More than €400,000 of Erasmus+ ICM funding has enabled them to turn their idea into reality and has already enabled, among other things, four professors and lecturers from ISU to visit Cardiff University in July 2016 and 2017.

As part of the project, three of the ISU staff were trained as trainers and have gone on to deliver the programme in their own institution and are now supervising ISU students to deliver the manualised treatment to PTSD sufferers in Georgia. Therapy training has been embedded as a core part of ISU’s MSc in Mental Health (Psychotraumatology) curriculum. 

Staff and students from both Cardiff University and ISU have gained a broad cultural awareness of each other’s countries, in particular their respective research and higher education cultures.

For researchers

Narayan Ramamurthy from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute spent four months as part of his research at the UK’s Pirbright Institute, where he studied the techniques in developing a genetically reverse-engineered virus - specifically negative sense RNA virus.

Narayan explains: ‘The bivalent vaccines produced in this technique can be used in domestic animals, and can address at least two different diseases in a single go.’

The benefits are not just to the vaccinated livestock but also positively impact on farmers’ livelihoods. Narayan says: ‘In a developing country, farming is the main backbone for sustenance, animal husbandry is a vital part in it.

‘By protecting livestock, we can improve the lives of farmers and the national economy.’

Narayan says: ‘The placement programme is a lifetime opportunity for a young researcher like me. It helps me to push the level of science and confidence in approaching a problem in new level. The knowledge I gained will follow me in my whole path of career.’

 

Ivayla Sopotenska, a food engineer, science journalist and FameLab Bulgaria finalist 2014 and 2016, is grateful to have found the path that she’s on – in part thanks to her involvement in the global science communication competition. 

For Ivayla, one of her highlights of the experience was the science communication masterclass led by UK science communication trainer, Frank Burnett.

‘It was an amazing experience – something I'd never seen or done before,’ she enthuses. ‘I hadn't thought before about taking a different approach depending on the audience type’.

Ivayla engaged with the interactive style of the workshop, which included acting, speaking exercises, and even destressing exercises to practice before going on stage. The content of the workshop is still proving valuable to this day: ‘Frank gave us lots of tips, which I now use in my presentations.’

Ivayla’s research is focused on gluten intolerance and deals with an everyday problem for affected people, and she is exploring the ways we can make edible gluten-free bread, biscuits and other flour-based food.

See also