UK and US higher education to embrace emerging powers

Thursday 13 June 2013

A new programme supporting university collaboration between UK-US and emerging nations for up to five years has been announced between the Foreign Secretary William Hague and Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington DC. 

The ‘UK-US Global Innovation Initiative’ is the first multi-lateral higher education partnership programme working directly with the US and UK governments. Funding has been pledged by the two governments, from the State Department in the USA, and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the British Council in the UK. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UK-US governments was signed on 10 June 2013 committing to the programme.    

The UK-US Global Innovation Initiative will run two coordinated annual competitions under the same programme name, one in the UK and one in the US. The programme details will be announced alongside the first call for proposals in early October 2013 with grants given in early 2014. 

Its roots are in the UK-US study report commissioned by No.10 in 2009 and refined in two large scale policy dialogue events organised by the British Council between university vice chancellors and presidents in New York 2010 and Windsor 2011. 

In May 2011 President Obama made a state visit to the UK. In the official joint statement on higher education and science, it was noted: “‘The Prime Minister and President welcomed the forthcoming meeting of the UK-U.S. Higher Education Policy Forum. They also encouraged further strengthening of institutional higher education links including international internships and other modes of mutual mobility for students and faculty members — between the US and UK and in cooperation with other global partners — to better equip American and British students with the skills needed to succeed in and bolster the global economy.”

After the MoU was signed on 10 June 2013, The Secretary of State and the Foreign Secretary held a joint press conference on 12 June in Washington DC. Secretary Kerry remarked: “This important initiative is going to support multilateral research emphasizing science, technology, engineering, and it will focus on issues such as climate change, which we have just discussed at length, and sustainable development. And this initiative will also further our higher education cooperation, which is a priority of both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron. It will bolster collaborations between universities in the United States and the United Kingdom.”

Commenting on the initiative, Martin Davidson CEO of the British Council, said ‘’ International co-operation is essential in furthering understanding in addressing key global challenges - we are delighted to be investing in this new programme in partnership with the US, that will provide UK universities a new mechanism to work with the best around the world.’’ 

Notes to Editor

1. University Funding
Universities will have to demonstrate their programme contribution up to an agreed cost share % of the grant asked for (for example 25%) in the application process but not have to provide funds upfront into the main fund.   

2. Additional Funding
Any additional funds received to the main UK or US funds - derived either from the US or the UK from foundations, corporations and donors can be used to increase the scope of activity, enhance the fund and allow more grants to be distributed. It is also expected that from year two contributions are made from the other participating countries. 

3. Governance
The overall strategic direction and steer for the call for proposals will be provided by an advisory board that is made up of selected individuals from the funding bodies, university sector leadership and government. This is suggested to be no bigger than five representatives from UK and same from US. They will meet once a year and can provide substitutes: From the UK this is expected to be initially from DBIS, British Council, Universities UK, Research Councils and the Council for Industry and Higher Education.

The fund will be managed by two administrative agencies, one in the UK (British Council) and one in the US (currently under selection) that will co-ordinate the administrative processes and manage the fund on behalf of each government. This is the key UK-US coordinating body for the programme. 

A selection committee made up of members identified by the administrative agencies will score the annual proposals.  

4. Selection Process
Both the advisory board and administrative agencies will be separated from the selection process (apart from convening the selection committee). There will be a three stage selection process. Firstly, an initial sift by the administrative agents to ensure all technical requirements have been met by the applicant, Secondly, applications sent to the selection panellists to score them and finally the top scoring proposals are proposed to both governments to sign off on the final selection. 

For more information please contact:

In London: Tim Sowula, Snr Press Officer tim.sowula@britishcouncil.org

In Washington DC: Alexandra Dimsdale, Head of Media, alexandra.dimsdale@britishcouncil.org

About the British Council

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