This is my first international visit outside Europe since March 2020 and following careful thought and reflection, our international team identified Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam as priority countries for me to visit.

It was a pleasure to be joined by Dr Annecy Lax, our Dean of Partnerships (Education), Vanessa Potter, our Director of Communications and External Relations and Samantha Look, our Regional Director South East Asia Office, based in Kuala Lumpur.

Members of the team visited six universities in the region, Chulalongkorn, Rangsit and Assumption in Thailand – and Universiti Teknologi Mara, University College Sedaya International and Taylor’s in Malaysia. Following the limited ability of international students and University of Essex staff to travel during COVID-19, the visits focused on partnerships which the team felt would benefit from refreshing our relationship through a personal visit.

Signing at Newton College 

In addition to relaunching a range of programmes, our visits also provided an opportunity for us to sign new agreements, extend the range of engagement into new subject areas and to meet students on University of Essex courses, or coming to study at one of our UK campuses. I was also able to meet and thank our wonderful University of Essex staff in our South East Asia Regional International Office, who have been amazing in continuing their work, especially during what has been a very challenging last 30 months for international student recruitment and mobility.

We also visited three colleges, Newton Business School in Bangkok, Thailand, and Laksamana College of Business in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, to sign new partnership agreements, further diversifying the partners we work with in these countries. We also took the opportunity to visit our long-standing partner Brickfields Asia College in Kuala Lumpur.

In addition, I hosted two wonderful alumni events in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, the latter with 80 Essex graduates – some travelling very long distances from across Malaysia to be with us – reflecting the strength of our presence in Malaysia and the strong sense of affinity with the University. It was an absolute pleasure to hear how our alumni were getting on, to help network our alumni in Malaysia and to share our successes and our plans for the next few years.

Signing at Chula UniversityThe advanced institutional visits require a great deal of advanced work and preparation and I am very grateful to colleagues from across the University for their support in making this trip very successful. Despite some on-going and necessary COVID restrictions and precautions, the visits reminded me both of the importance of international partnerships to our global outlook, the success of the University and ensuring that across our three campuses that we really can continue to find the world in one place.

Currently ranked in the top 25 in the world for international outlook in the Times Higher Education World University rankings, it also reminded me of the importance of not taking our international university partnerships for granted and continuing to nurture them. If you would like more information please could you contact Dr Annecy Lax, our Dean of Partnerships (Education).Signing at LCB Brunei

Alumni celebration in Malaysia