U21 Awards Honour Contributions to Internationalisation in Global Higher Education

Internationalisation and collaboration are two values that are more important than ever as the world is beset by global challenges. Those are the guiding concepts that led to the foundation of U21, an international network for research-led universities, back in 1997, and 26 years later they are the concepts embodied by the winners of the year’s U21 Awards and Leaders of the Future Awards.

Two exceptional staff initiatives and the work of two extraordinary students from U21’s global membership were recognised by the Awards.

Winners for this year were ACFAM, the African Caribbean Faculty Association of McMaster University in Canada, Dr. Miriam Moeller, a Senior Lecturer in International Business at the University of Queensland in Australia, John Zimba, founder of the Chiparamba Trust and recent graduate of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and Juan Ramon Lara Mora, a current student at Tecnologio de Monterrey in Mexico.

Each of these winners embodies the spirit of the network in building bridges with education across nations and geographies and empowering others. Their significant achievements are a testament to the universities that have fostered their work and their efforts to effect positive change.

Members of ACFAM
Members of ACFAM (African Caribbean Faculty Association of McMaster University)

Founded 12 years ago, ACFAM at McMaster University is an inclusive network including faculty members from across the African and Caribbean Diaspora. Recognising the under-representation of Black thought, research, and teaching at their institutions, they have since developed a wide programme of action, including the creation of a Black Student Success Centre offering wellness, scholarly and financial support in 2021.

The Association has addressed the vital importance of advancing equality in teaching and learning, developing the diversity of voices that the global higher education community needs, and becoming a hub for university partnerships and networks. Their track record of successful programmes and commitment to inclusion is highly deserving of celebration within the higher education world.

Miriam Moeller University of Queensland
Dr Miriam Moeller, University of Queensland

As a researcher in the field of global mobility, Dr. Miriam Moeller is commended for her culture-specific approach to supporting students to seek an international education. Miriam has co-created and actively led the UQ Business School’s Rapid Acculturation Mateship Program supporting international students’ transition from abroad to local postgraduate study and life in Australia. Since 2014, approximately 2,650 students have benefited from her approach.  Through an unwavering focus on removing barriers and delivering authentic learning experiences, Dr. Moeller has been able to broaden the global horizons of many.

Juan Ramon Lara Mora, student at Tecnologio de Monterrey
Juan Ramon Lara Mora, student at Tecnologio de Monterrey

The same ethos is behind the work of Juan Ramon Lara Mora, a current student at Tecnologio de Monterrey. As he studied, Juan realised that the benefits of quality education could be shared with those from underprivileged communities in Mexico. Building up a network of professionals from more than 100 different career paths, his social enterprise ‘Decidiendo un Futuro’ (Deciding a Future) helps young people to develop their career paths with the use of technology and specialist guidance. The commitment to others and vision shown at such a young age truly impressed U21’s judging panel, composed of Senior Leaders from member institutions.

John Zimba
John Zimba, founder of the Chiparamba Trust

Founder of the Chiparamba Trust, John has been leading change in Zambia within the field of Education, breaking down barriers for marginalised young people and women in rural areas with no access to education. Awarded a Chevening Scholarship to complete the MSc Young People, Social Inclusion and Change at the University of Glasgow in 2016, John has used the skills and knowledge gained through this programme to directly benefit young people in his home country of Zambia.

Drawing on networks created during his study to keep in contact with alumni and promote the concept of volunteerism amongst his network, John has shown substantial commitment to empowering others through education. Mechanisms developed by John’s work have now allowed over 5,000 children to benefit from an education.    U21 Provost, Professor Jenny Dixon, comments: “In times when the world faces a lot of undeniable challenges that can only be solved with massive cooperation, we are pleased to celebrate the work and achievements of these exceptional teams and individuals from universities that form part of our global network. All of our winners have shown an impressive track record of commitment to internationalisation, a real sense of leadership, and a genuine desire to empower others through education.

I congratulate our colleagues who received this year’s U21 Awards, and inaugural Leaders of the Future Awards, designed to recognise the amazing contribution students also make in these arenas. We look forward to hearing of the future work and progress of all our winners."

We will be profiling each of our winners and their incredible work over the next few weeks.