Winnie Eley, University of Southampton, Vice-President (International)

“International partnerships at their best would see appreciation, reciprocity, effective flow of communication and rigorous debate as and when required”

Winnie Eley joined the University of Southampton as Vice-President (International) in October 2018. She moved to the UK from Australia where she spent five years as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International and Advancement) at The University of Newcastle. This followed roles at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and with the British Council in Nigeria and Hong Kong.

So, Winnie, you studied in the UK, now after a few months back in the country, how are you finding working at a UK university?

Winnie Eley: Very surreal. I found myself in a constant denial that I graduated from my undergraduate almost three decades ago.

You’ve worked in universities in Hong Kong, Australia and now the UK. Can you tell us about some of the biggest differences between the systems?

WE: Universities in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK are well funded, enterprising, and robust respectively.

And some similarities?

WE: The majority of them are in pursuit of being global for better student outcomes, research excellence and engagement at multiple levels.

You’ll be speaking at #IHEF19 on ‘the art of the graceful partnership’. When international partnerships are at their best, what do they look like?

WE: International partnerships at their best would see appreciation, reciprocity, effective flow of communication, rigorous debate as and when required, constant improvement in the capability of partnerships governance and management, and a high level of trust and respect between those institutions of higher learning involved in the partnerships.

And when they aren’t going well, what are the risks?

WE: The perceived reputation of the institutions is most vulnerable when the going gets tough. Mistrust, myths and legends know no boundary, and often times, get carried away by themselves and cause reputational damage and heartaches along the way. Ethical, regulatory, statutory and financial risks are all in the mix and mitigation plans should be in place before any partnership agreements are signed and sealed.

And finally, can you give us a travel tip for Australia and/or Hong Kong and Nigeria?

WE: Sunscreen and sunglasses are one’s best friends when in Australia, a land of many natural wonders. Book a couple of extra days off to recuperate after being in Hong Kong, a dynamic city that runs like clockwork and is on the go 24/7. Make sure you have a smart wardrobe when in Nigeria. Nigerians dress well and they make an impressive entrance. Surely you want to look the part.

Winnie will be speaking at Universities UK International’s flagship annual conference – the International Higher Education Forum – on March 27th at Imperial College London. The PIE News is supporting the event as a media partner.