Global affairs at the heart of the matter

30 Oct 2023
Global team

The newly named University Office of Global Affairs has a highly talented team dedicated to UNSW’s vision for global impact.

At a recent meeting, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Global Professor Colin Grant introduced the new name for the office that leads delivery of UNSW’s Global Strategy with a quip that goes to the very heart of the team’s function.

“Introducing the University Office of Global Affairs – or UOGA,” Prof. Grant said, invoking a play on the word ‘yoga’. “Stretching to help meet UNSW’s societal impact goals for the greater global good.”

And though Prof. Grant doth jest about UOGA’s purpose, its serious intent is borne out in the five priority areas the fledgling office has set to guide its work:

  1. Delivering world-class lifelong education across a global UNSW network of pathways, channels, landing pads and hubs
  2. Anchoring multi-disciplinary research partnerships at scale in all the global regions of the world
  3. Establishing UNSW as the world’s leading university in global indigenous exchange
  4. Consolidating UNSW as the world’s leading university partner with innovation and industry
  5. Establishing UNSW as a leading global actor in driving sustainability and resilience in vulnerable locations in partnership with governments, multilateral bodies and community organisations.

It’s a big mission for the small office, but each highly talented team member is dedicated to UNSW’s vision of improving lives around the world and is committed to partnership at home to deliver partnership abroad.

UOGA is led by Prof. Grant and Professor Lisa Zamberlan, who has recently been appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor International.

Prof. Zamberlan has an impressive track record in international engagement and building strategic relationships, having represented UNSW in high-level delegations with transnational partners and contributed to raising the profile of transnational education credentials not only for UNSW, but for Australia. Prof. Zamberlan was appointed acting PVC International in September 2022, deftly advancing UNSW’s international strategy while simultaneously continuing her role of Associate Dean International in the Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture. Prof. Zamberlan brings a wealth of experience to UOGA from an accomplished career at UNSW over many years, including as Discipline Director, UNSW Interior Architecture (Hons) Program.

The UOGA team will soon be joined by Nerida Dalton as Head of International Relations. Ms Dalton is currently Senior Government Relations Adviser in the Division of External Engagement. She has extensive experience in government and diplomatic relations and has provided excellent advice to UOGA and its predecessors during her career at UNSW.

The broader UOGA team includes:

  • Lyndal Halliday, Executive Officer Global
  • Dr Sophie Bekir-Robinson, Executive Assistant Global
  • Paula Sissian-Turnbull, Senior Administrative Officer Global
  • Karen Corrigan, Senior Administrative Officer Global
  • Professor Vinayak Dixit, Director Transnational Ventures
  • Associate Professor George Varughese, Director of the Institute for Global Development (IGD)
  • Mikaela Cicciarello, Project and Communications Coordinator, IGD
  • Meg Walker, Senior Project Officer, IGD
  • Iain Payne, Senior Project Officer, IGD

Though formally established only four months ago when Prof. Grant joined UNSW from Queen Mary University of London, UOGA is already stretching to deliver against its five priorities.

“In the last few months, we have seen very significant inbound and outbound global activity at UNSW – something that is immensely exciting and encouraging when we reflect on the comparative isolation between nations during the pandemic,” Prof. Grant said.

UOGA has hosted more than 25 international delegations, including from world-leading academic institutions, policymakers from Australian and many overseas governments, and drivers in industry and innovation. Engaging across the whole institution, Prof. Grant, Prof. Zamberlan, Professor Dixit and Associate Professor Varughese have represented UNSW at numerous international events and forums, visiting countries including China, India and Japan to engage with international partners in transnational education, research, innovation and sustainability.

Furthermore, the office has launched several funding initiatives and projects that align with Global Strategy priority areas, with partners in countries including China, Fiji, India, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and Timor-Leste.

UNSW has long been a global university. It was one of the first universities in Australia to welcome international students from Asia under the Australian government’s original Colombo Plan. The earliest record of an international student studying at UNSW is from 1952, when Arsh Boongrapu travelled from Thailand on a government-sponsored scholarship to study Electrical Engineering.

The work of UOGA continues this heritage, with renewed priorities and resolute focus.

“UOGA will focus on three things: impact, impact and impact,” Prof. Grant said. The office welcomes dialogue with everyone in the UNSW community anywhere in the world.

Pictured top: Some of our colleagues from the University Office of Global Affairs, left to right: Lyndal Halliday, Professor Colin Grant, Dr Sophie Bekir-Robinson, Paula Sissian-Turnbull, Associate Professor George Varughese, Mikaela Cicciarello, Meg Walker, Karen Corrigan and Professor Vinayak Dixit.