Universitas 21

Universitas 21 (U21) is the leading global network of research-intensive universities. 

Professor Sir David Eastwood

Professor Sir David Eastwood

Vice Chancellor

“As the current Chair of Universitas 21, I can say with confidence that not only are we delighted to be part of its global network of research universities but also proud to be one of the founding members. Since its inception, the University of Birmingham has always taken a leading role and we have continued to increase steadily our involvement for the benefit of our staff and students; encouraging increasing numbers of students to spend some time studying at U21 partner institutions, and enabling staff to develop their international perspective through involvement in U21 strategy meetings and events.”

The University of Birmingham are strongly committed to the underlying principles of U21. These are:

  • Global focus and perspective
  • Commitment to excellence in all we do
  • Commitment of those involved to collaborative and co-operative work and spirit while ensuring there are clear outcomes
  • Determination to achieve added value
  • Constant striving for innovation and the creation of multilateral opportunities for members
  • Sustainability of activity

News: 2021 Universitas21 (U21) AGM marks the end of the VC’s successful 7-year tenure as Chair of the network

Professor Sir David Eastwood ended a successful seven-year tenure as Chair of Universitas 21 (U21) at the global organisation’s Annual General Meeting in May 2021. Sir David was appointed as Chair of the global network of 27 research-intensive universities in May 2014. During his tenure, the Network has attracted prestigious new members including UC Davis, KU Leuven, Zurich, and McMaster, and has responded with agility to the challenges posed by COVID-19, developing innovative virtual programmes for its members’ students.

Commenting on his time as Chair, overseeing U21’s work spanning 18 countries and six continents, Sir David said:

“I am hugely proud to have served as Chair of Universitas 21 and to have been part of such an outstanding partnership of leading global universities who have achieved so much by working together, and most recently have responded with agility and imagination to the challenges faced by the pandemic. We are slowly getting back to a world that is not wholly dominated by the pandemic and that world is going to be unpredictable, and shaped by a range of forces. Networks such as U21 that support innovation and imagination will be key to the future success of higher education globally, and I wish Professor Tan every success as the incoming U21 Chair.”

Sir David will be succeeded as U21 Chair by Professor Tan Eng Chye from the National University of Singapore. The University of Birmingham is due to host the 2022 AGM with further details to follow.

Opportunities for University of Birmingham staff and students

Ben Giblin

MsC Physics and Astronomy

“In my opinion, the fantastic range of opportunities for international travel and study is the best thing about being a student at the University of Birmingham. In my time here, I’ve been sent to represent the university at a research conference in Tokyo and a Summer School in Sydney, as part of Birmingham's membership of the amazing Universitas 21 group.”

Dr Victoria Burns

Senior Lecturer in Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

“In a busy academic career, there are only limited opportunities to take time away from your day-to-day activities to focus on a specific area of interest. The U21 Staff Fellowships give you the time and the space to think, a network of good practice to explore, and the funding to make it happen!”

There are numerous ways in which University of Birmingham staff and students can engage with U21 including Staff Fellowships, PhD Scholarships, Undergraduate travel bursaries and several overseas summer schools and conferences hosted by U21 partners. The International Relations office funds, advertises and recruits to these every academic year. 

Just some of the countries that our staff and students travelled to in 2018 with the support of University of Birmingham funding are: Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and the USA. The full list of U21 member institutions is at the bottom of this page.

Further details on how to apply for current staff and students can be found on the University of Birmingham U21 intranet pages. Case studies showcasing some of our undergraduate and postgraduate students' fantastic experiences are on our U21 Student Opportunities page.

A group of University of Birmingham receipients of U21 awards at our celebratory Barbecue at Hornton GrangeAbove: University of Birmingham receipients of U21 awards at our celebratory Barbecue at Hornton Grange. Professor Robin Mason, Pro Vice Chancellor International and U21 Lead, is on the far right.

U21 jointly-awarded PhD project

We have, along with 13 other Universitas 21 institutions, agreed to establish a unique framework for jointly awarded PhDs. The project aims to foster the internationalisation of graduate research programmes and enhance student mobility and exchange.

This exciting programme will enhance considerably students’ research and employment opportunities on an international scale. Under this scheme, two partner universities create a tailor-made programme of study for the student, taking their specific research needs into account. A jointly-awarded PhD is a qualification given to a student on completion of a collaborative programme established by the partner institutions and is characterised by:

  • meeting the academic requirements of both universities
  • agreement regarding a lead university
  • joint supervision; a single degree awarded for one PhD thesis
  • parchment(s) issued which indicate that there has been joint supervision

If you are interested in establishing a U21 Joint PhD please contact: