Students seated at long desk with globe wall decal behind them

Global ambition

Since its founding, Sussex has had a global outlook and strong commitment to the internationalisation of education. Today, we’re taking forward our values-based global engagement strategy to create ‘A Better University for a Better World’.

Leading by example

Our vision is to make a real difference to people’s lives in every region in which we have partnerships and to offer our students an international experience and perspective.

To support our ambitious plans, we have appointed our first-ever Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global and Civic Engagement, Professor Robin Banerjee (Social Psychology 1992). Previously Head of the School of Psychology at Sussex, Robin Banerjee took up his post in September 2023.

As Vice-Chancellor Professor Sasha Roseneil explains, the decision to bring together leadership of civic and global engagement “recognises the entanglement of the local and the global in the contemporary world, as Sussex has done recently in becoming a ‘University of Sanctuary’ and as we have done throughout our history in offering support to students and academics from countries experiencing war and conflict.”

“This new appointment,” she adds, “will ensure that we take forward, with energy and enthusiasm, our work with our extensive network of international partners, furthering our existing collaborations, developing our transnational education offer and ensuring that we continue to attract international students to study here.”

Commenting on our strategy, Robin says: “It will always take the form of a two-way relationship of learning: on the one hand, sharing the amazing education and research that takes place every day at Sussex with partners in the local area and around the world who can benefit from it; and on the other, learning from the diverse talents, experiences, cultural expertise and knowledge of our partners.”

During her own first year in post, Sasha Roseneil demonstrated her personal commitment to our internationalisation agenda through a series of engagements with global partners and alumni. Early in 2023, she took part in a panel discussion at the annual International Business Horizon conference, organised by our partners at Amity University in Delhi, India. She then visited partner institution Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) in May and took part in an event for Mexican alumni. Going on to attend a Board meeting of the Friends of the University of Sussex in the USA, Sasha also hosted a reception for US alumni at the Poster Museum in New York.

Travelling to South Africa to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of our pioneering Mandela Scholarships, Sasha and a team of Sussex staff explored the possibility of future research and capacity-building partnerships with the country.

“Sussex’s historic relationship with South Africa – through the many brilliant and courageous students who have studied here over the decades – provides abundant evidence of the contribution of universities, and of Sussex in particular, to positive social and economic change,” she says. “The importance of foregrounding our commitment to global engagement through equitable partnerships, and to supporting and growing our diverse international community of students, staff and alumni is clearer to me than ever after this visit.”

Professors Robin Banerjee and Sasha Roseneil with guests at the Vice-Chancellor’s Reception in Johannesburg.

Professors Robin Banerjee and Sasha Roseneil with guests at the Vice-Chancellor’s Reception in Johannesburg.

Creating global citizens

Sussex has a longstanding tradition of pioneering student mobility initiatives, and we were delighted to be recognised as the best-performing university in the UK, and eighth in the world, for supporting student mobility by the World University Rankings for Innovation (WURI) 2023.

More than one in five (21%) of our students currently participates in an international experience, but our ambition doesn’t stop there. Our target is to see 40% of our students doing so by 2025 – whether this is via our well-established study-abroad programme, summer schools, or by bringing international opportunities to our students via cultural immersion initiatives taking place on our own campus.

It’s all part of our innovative ‘internationalisation at home’ approach that seeks to create a globally engaged and culturally diverse environment for all students, whether they study abroad or not. The goal is to ensure that all our students will be globally competent, confident, knowledgeable and skilled.

In 2022, Sussex and the Institute of Development Studies signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), establishing a student exchange agreement, a summer programme and opportunities for collaborative online international learning (COIL).

Liberal Arts student Gina Lloyd was among the first cohort of Sussex students to attend a summer school at UNAM. “Everyone who worked at CEPE [UNAM’s international teaching centre] was so lovely and welcoming,” she says. “We learnt so much every day about Mexican culture, each other and ourselves.”

In turn, we were delighted to welcome UNAM students to our International Junior Research Programme. In early 2023, the Global Engagement team at Sussex also facilitated a six-week COIL programme in business strategy simulation that formed part of the International Business Strategy Module at Sussex. It brought together 80 UNAM and 176 Sussex students, all of whom gained global perspectives on international business concepts, developing their professional skills and strategic decision making.

Some of the first cohort of Sussex students at the UNAM Summer School in Taxco, Mexico

Some of the first cohort of Sussex students at the UNAM Summer School in Taxco, Mexico.

We have also worked with our partner Zhejiang Gongshang University in China on reciprocal opportunities for our respective student bodies. The partnership has seen around 1,000 students studying Sussex courses in China, while over 100 Sussex students were also able to take part in an engaging 10-day online Chinese language and culture course, ‘Picturesque and Dynamic Zhejiang’. The course blended basic Chinese-language instruction with the opportunity to learn about Chinese culture.

Sussex students also took part in the University of Ghana’s innovative summer programmes in 2022 and 2023, which was made possible with funding from the Turing Scheme and the Sussex- Ghana Strategic Fund. Students studied a range of topics related to public health, gender and development, the transatlantic slave trade, performing arts and Ghanaian language and culture. Back on campus, Sussex students enjoyed the annual One World Week programme of events, which celebrates the diversity of cultures in our community.

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