The Monash Warwick Alliance celebrates its 10th anniversary

Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor and President, Univeristy of Warwick and Professor Margaret Gardner AC, President and Vice-Chancellor, Monash Univeristy

Partnerships and collaboration between universities, on both a local and international scale, are not new; they have existed for decades and serve a purpose that provides benefit not only for the two countries in which they are located, but to the global communities they both serve. Longevity of such a partnership, however, is not as common.

This year marks the 10th anniversary since the establishment of the Monash Warwick Alliance – a dedicated partnership between Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and the University of Warwick in Coventry, England.

Over the past 10 years, through a deep and solid foundation of trust and success, we have cemented this Alliance as one of the longest-standing partnerships for both of our universities, and possibly of any university partnership between the UK and Australia.

This longevity is a true testament to the success, resilience and adaptability of our affiliation, despite the challenges and uncertainties of the past two years as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

When we formed the Alliance a decade ago, our two universities had already enjoyed successful collaborations, and we shared similar origins: both were young institutions founded in the middle of the last century; both had risen in the decades since to become two of the world’s top-100 universities; and both were led by globally renowned, interdisciplinary research across many fields.

With this synchronicity in mind, we sought to forge a deep cooperation that far exceeded the usual agreements and memoranda known throughout higher education. In fact, we pioneered a new model for transnational university partnerships, comprehensively stitching together the greatest parts of both institutions, and co-creating an Alliance that is integrated into every level of our communities – from our students and researchers to professional and support staff, and beyond.

Together, we have identified major global challenges that can be best mitigated by combining our exceptional complementary research capabilities, with colleagues across oceans joining expertise to tackle issues such as cancer, healthcare improvement, mental health, migration, particle physics, novel materials, energy solutions, and antimicrobial resistance.

To date, our Alliance has produced around 1,000 co-authored research publications and undertaken more than 100 joint research and education projects. We have also created educational and mobility opportunities for our students, offering, for example, joint PhDs between the UK and Australia, physical and virtual student exchange programmes, and a virtual International Conference of Undergraduate Research. Most recently, the creation of the Alliance Intensive Study Programme significantly increased our collaborative educational options. This year alone, over 1,000 students from Monash, Warwick and our global partners have benefited from Alliance-enabled opportunities.

The vision and history of our Alliance states: ‘The future of education lies in global partnership. We are harnessing our collective strengths to empower our research and education to meet the complex challenges of our global community.’

And just as the histories of our two universities are alike, we now look forward to a shared future, with the same goals and vision to make a positive global impact.

Monash’s recently launched Strategic Plan, Impact 2030, sets the path for how the University will actively contribute to addressing the global challenges of our time – climate change, geopolitical security and thriving communities – through research and education, and in collaboration with government, industry and community.

Monash has been particularly committed to broad international engagement from its beginnings, and today the reach and scale of our internationalisation is extensive. Our evolution has seen Monash’s presence expand beyond Australia to include campuses in China, Malaysia, India and Indonesia, and a centre in Italy – in addition to our four campuses in Victoria.

Over the years, we have also built major alliances and partnerships, which are deeper and more strategic than the standard memoranda of understanding, with a number of universities overseas.

As part of Impact 2030, Monash’s strategic vision is to strengthen our program of alliances, known as networks of excellence, the depth of which can already be seen in the relationship pioneered with Warwick.

We share a goal of international engagement – for example, through Monash’s offshore campuses and networks of excellence, and Warwick’s commitment to building deep partnerships in strategic regions. Additionally, each of our universities has an openness to bringing our respective networks together to produce sustainable and excellent research programs, and education and student opportunities.

Like Monash, Warwick’s strategy for the next decade has internationalisation at its very core. We believe in harnessing transnational research to enhance the lives of communities from Coventry to Melbourne. Furthermore, we aim to give our staff and students even more intercultural experiences, so that they are open-minded, responsible citizens of the planet.

Warwick fosters strong relationships spanning every continent, but in our current phase we seek to establish a focused number of deep partnerships in targeted regions. Of particular note is the EUTOPIA network of ten European universities. Following the model of the Alliance, this partnership is also embedded into all aspects of Warwick life. With Monash as a global partner to EUTOPIA through the Alliance, we are strengthening the bridge between Australia, the UK and Europe.

Warwick and Monash have, separately, so many significant connections around the globe and, thanks to our Alliance, they are all linked; our two communities combined have access to countless intercontinental opportunities.

Bearing in mind current trade negotiations by the British and Australian governments, we are proud to have already established a durable and effective framework for scholarly exchange and innovation between our two nations.

The world has changed remarkably swiftly since 2012, with political and social upheaval, increasing evidence of the climate crisis, and the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic – which forced us to re-evaluate how we live, work and travel.

As we enter our next decade of the Alliance, we will keep adapting to new and emerging global challenges and our Alliance will be an invaluable asset to help us tackle them directly.

We will remain aligned to Monash’s and Warwick’s complementary research and education priorities, and, as ever, we will combine our expertise, facilities, communities, as well as links with industry, government, higher education partners, and other external stakeholders on both continents.

We hope our Alliance experiences can inform wider institutional thinking around international partnerships. We have the potential to influence the future of UK-Australia relations in the bilateral research and funding landscape by engaging with policy-makers, funders and corporate partners across our two countries and more broadly.

This anniversary year provides an opportunity to re-engage with our communities, to reflect on our experiences, and to envision our future – and together we look forward to continuing to make a real and tangible difference for the benefit of our communities – in Australia, the UK and globally.

Our successful first decade has only been possible due to the tireless work and passionate involvement of our students, staff, and our various partners. Thank you to everyone who has been part of it. Let’s continue to share new ideas about how the Alliance can enhance even more aspects of our university life, at Monash and at Warwick.

Please visit the Alliance webpages on the Monash and Warwick websites for further details coming soon regarding anniversary events and activities.

Professor Margaret Gardner AC, President and Vice-Chancellor, Monash University
Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Warwick