Westminster Higher Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Priorities for international research partnerships

Morning, Wednesday, 28th April 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on the future for the UK’s international research partnerships.

With keynote contributions from UKRI and the European Commission, it will be an opportunity to consider the implications of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the UK’s future participation in Horizon and other cooperative programmes - as well as UK international positioning more widely.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; the IPO; DIT; the FCDO; the Geospatial Commission; Defra; DSTL; HMRC; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • International research collaboration moving forward
  • The impact of COVID-19 on international research co-operation and lessons learned for international partnerships, knowledge exchange and allocation of funding moving forward
    • Improving international sharing of research data for streamlined research collaboration
    • Facilitating cross-UK and global research on COVID-19 knowledge gaps
  • Encouraging international students to embark on research careers in the UK
  • Attracting and retaining overseas research talent in the UK - the visa and immigration system, support and mentorship for prospective and early career researchers, and fostering diverse and supportive research cultures
  • Next steps for global research and development partnerships
  • Facilitating development and recovery post-pandemic through global research co-operation - key focus areas, funding and next steps for effective collaboration
  • Horizon Europe and priorities for future research partnerships between the UK and the EU

Key areas for discussion:

  • the UK- EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement - confirming the UK’s future participation in Horizon and other cooperative programmes, which will be governed by a future protocol to the main agreement
  • the UK’s wider global positioning - priorities for policy to support future international collaboration, including with European Union member states and more widely
  • funding:
    • government investment - the impact of recent UK government allocations of research funding, including use of increased investment announced in Budget 2020 and Spending Review 2020
    • targeting - assessing key research areas for supporting global development and post-pandemic economic challenges, and next steps for effective collaboration
    • the Higher Education Restructuring Regime - what it means for university research, with its conditions relating to quality of research output and serving the wider needs of the economy
    • cutting bureaucracy - priorities for the Government’s recently announced drive to streamline application processes for research grants
  • knowledge exchange and data sharing - examining best practice for effective partnerships between HEIs, and the HE sector and other centres of research, including within industry
  • international research talent - latest thinking on options and initiatives in the wake of the UK’s final exit from the European Union:
    • the new Office for Talent - announced in the Research and Development Roadmap, and what will be needed for it to achieve its aims of helping to attract and retain research talent in the UK
    • immigration - the likely impact on international research talent of the new visa system and related policy
    • working in the UK - how welcome do overseas researchers currently feel in the UK and what are the influencing factors, including research culture and diversity in research teams
    • the R&D People and Culture Strategy - what will be needed to improve the sustainability of research careers, including for technical staff and others working alongside researchers
    • supporting wellbeing - potential impact of the policy drive to cut bureaucracy, including on productivity, and fostering a joined-up support network for international student populations
    • the International Education Strategy - implementation so far and likely impact on attracting international research talent to the UK
    • progression - how the higher education sector can improve its support for potential future researchers amongst international student cohorts in embarking on a research career in the UK
  • COVID-19:
    • learning from the intensified worldwide research collaboration to tackle the challenges brought about by the pandemic
    • what can be carried forward from the modes of engagement, the financial and data-sharing arrangements and other facilitators of collaboration that were put in place

A scan of relevant developments:

  • UK- EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement - the recently published agreement laying out the terms of future cooperation and relations with the EU, including the arrangements for continued participation in European programmes such as Horizon
  • UK Research and Development Roadmap - which outlines the Government’s plans for domestic and international R&D in the wake of the pandemic
  • Budget 2020 - with an increase in public R&D investment to £22bn per year by 2024-2025
  • Spending Review 2020 - recent announcement of nearly £15bn of investment in R+D over 2021-22, including a £350m allocation for UKRI, aimed at allowing researchers to drive innovation and technological change while supporting collaboration with global partners
  • International partnerships research global impact of COVID-19 - with funding from UKRI through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund
  • Managing risks in internationalisation - from Universities UK, with guidance on research, IP and partnerships, reputation and values, and cyber security of individuals and infrastructure
  • British Council announce new UK-Russia University Alliance programme to strengthen university links - promoting projects including in climate change, anti-microbial resistance and TNE provision
  • Open research Area for the Social Sciences - recent announcement of multilateral collaborative projects between UK, France, Germany, Canada and Japan, with researchers strengthening international cooperation on counter terrorism, socioeconomic change and income inequality amongst other areas
  • UK ratifies the Square Kilometre Array - headquartered in the UK and bringing together 15 countries and international organisations to establish and build the world’s largest radio telescope, aimed at studying the universe in ever greater detail
  • Government to protect UK research jobs with major support package - including £280m to support researchers’ salaries and other costs, as well as for supporting R&D
  • Extra university places for vital courses announced - totalling 9,000 and focused on economically important areas and services including engineering, maths, and healthcare courses
  • the International Education Strategy - with the aim of increasing the number of international students choosing to study in the UK to 600,000 by 2030
  • further cross-sector governmental strategies:
    • UK International Research and Innovation Strategy
    • Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future - with an increase in UK investment in R&D to 2.4% GDP by 2027
    • UK National Data Strategy - recently published by DCMS and aiming to build a world-leading UK data economy as well as public trust in data use
    • Government Technology Innovation Strategy - to support public services improvements through use of data, new approaches to procurement and funding, developing skills and leadership
    • Prime Minister: World must unite to defeat COVID and prevent future pandemics - addressing the UN General Assembly for increased international research co-operation for preventing future pandemics such as COVID-19 and a worldwide network research hubs

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from BEIS; Defra; the Department of International Trade; the DSTL; the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; the Geospatial Commission; HMRC; the Intellectual Property Office; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials from DfE, BEIS, FCDO and other Government departments and agencies, together with senior representatives from universities and industry; academics and other higher education professionals; businesses and their advisors; research charities, councils and funders; publishers; local authorities; think tanks and research institutes; international research bodies, along with commentators and reporters from the national and trade media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Dr Janet Ilieva

Director and Founder, Education Insight

Professor Andrew Thompson

UKRI Champion, Global Challenges Research Fund and the Newton Fund; International Champion, UKRI and Executive Chair, Arts and Humanities Research Council

Rita Lecbychova

Head of International Cooperation, European Commission


Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe


Jacqueline Moore

Head of Immigration, Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP

Professor Elena Simperl

Professor of Computer Science, King’s College London

Dr Niki Vermeulen

Senior Lecturer, History and Sociology of Science, University of Edinburgh

Martin Smith

Policy and Advocacy Manager, Wellcome Trust

Professor Trudie Lang

Director, The Global Health Network, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford

Jiang Sunan

Minister Counsellor for Science and Technology, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Professor Sir Richard Catlow

Foreign Secretary and Vice President, Royal Society

Dr Lesley Thompson

Vice President, Academic and Government Strategic Alliance, Elsevier

Matthew Dovey

Head of e-infrastructure strategy, JISC

Professor Keith Jones

Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research, University of Sussex