DOST-Newton PhD Scholar Angelo Aquino demonstrating his research at a public engagement event, I Know I Can 2016, in Barnsley, UK.

12 September 2017

 

The Newton Fund is a UK Government programme launched in 2014 to build scientific and innovation partnerships with 16 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare. It has a total investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries. The Philippines is one of the original partner countries chosen for the programme, recognition of an already substantive bilateral relationship with the UK, and further commitment to develop research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth.

In the Philippines, the Newton Fund is match-funded by and co-delivered with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Department of Agriculture. Since 2015, the Programme has received constant support and match-funding from the Philippine government, and was re-named the Newton Agham Programme in 2016. The re-naming to include the Filipino word for ‘science’ is testament to the Philippine government’s commitment to science and innovation partnerships with the UK.

The British Council is one of the delivery partners of the Newton Agham Programme in country, and we deliver international opportunities for individual early career researchers in higher education institutions, as well as for institutions themselves. We do this through various programmes such as Researcher Links grants with DOST, Institutional Links with CHED, and PhD Scholarships with both DOST and CHED.

As the UK’s international cultural relations organisation, the British Council’s charitable purpose includes ‘encourage[ing] cultural, scientific, and technological… cooperation between the UK and other countries’. In this context, our work in the Newton Agham Programme fits perfectly by supporting science and innovation collaboration between the two countries. 

Moreover, our work in education focusses on international higher education, sharing the UK’s expertise and innovation and bringing partners together for research, policy and other collaborative opportunities. In this regard, we deliver the Newton Agham Programme to provide opportunities for internationalisation of individual researchers as well as institutions. We believe that internationalisation promotes institutional development, through improved research outcomes.

Why is internationalisation important? According to a 2015 British Council study on internationalising the Philippine higher education sector, internationalisation goes beyond student and faculty mobility, and contributes to improving research and teaching quality. Furthermore, international research also increases citations by increasing readership across the globe. Additionally, a recent British Council study on international mobility, research and education provision (2017) proposed a new framework for assessing internationalisation, notably highlighting national policies supporting international research engagements (on top of transnational education and mobility policies), following from top global universities’ internationalisation strategies. In a survey of 38 countries, only five were assessed ‘very strong’ for national support in all three areas: Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Netherlands and the UK. This strong UK foundation is also evident in a 2013 comparative study on the level of internationalisation of the UK researcher base conducted by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which found that whilst British researchers comprise only 4% of the global researcher population, they produce 16% of the world’s most highly cited articles. On top of this four-fold productivity, the same study found that international collaboration produced research of superior quality.

International scientific and innovation opportunities allow researchers to collaborate with the best people around the world, and more importantly, tackle global or regional challenges from diverse perspectives. In turn, internationally mobile staff become more productive with higher publication rates and in high-impact journals. It is therefore opportunities for high-quality international research that lead to improved publication productivity, rather than simple access to publication. Indeed, in an analysis conducted in 2014 by Dr Fabian Dayrit, the National Academy of Science and Technology’s Vice President, national incentives to simply increase publication rates locally discouraged collaboration and did not improve research quality. 

In summary, internationalisation offers Philippine universities opportunities to work with the best researchers in the UK, build networks globally, and respond to issues relevant to national development, through partnerships under the Newton Agham Programme. This can be achieved through individual awards, such as the Newton PhD Scholarships, travel grants, and fellowships; or institutional grants, such as Institutional Links and regional workshops. Either way, individuals and higher education institutions develop linkages with UK partners through research in significant priority areas. In addition, partnerships with UK universities can reveal best practices and inject fresh global perspectives into local teaching which can benefit students in country. In conclusion, the Newton Agham Programme contributes to improved research and teaching outcomes through international opportunities by providing co-funded opportunities for international collaboration.

 

This article appeared on the Sunday Science Section of Business Mirror on Sunday, 10 September 2017.

 

About the Newton Fund

The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK Delivery Partners, which include the Research Councils, the UK Academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office. 

For further information visit the Newton Fund website and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund. For information on Newton Agham Programme opportunities, contact Karen Ann Hipol, Research and Innovation Programme Manager, British Embassy Manila, at Karen.Hipol@fco.gov.uk.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

For information on British Council Newton Agham Programme opportunities, please visit our website, or contact Andrea Teran, Newton Programme Manager, at andrea.teran@britishcouncil.org.ph.