GW4: On track
29 October 2013
Senior figures from a new research alliance which brings together major research-intensive universities from Wales and the South West of England have met for the first time in a bid to map out its direction of travel and potential impact on UK higher education and beyond.
Senior academic leaders from the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter met in the Welsh capital to discuss how best to take forward the GW4 research alliance.
The GW4 alliance was formally announced in January, bringing together a high concentration of research expertise and capability in the South West of England and Wales.
The combined research excellence of the GW4 alliance - named after Brunel's historic railway line the 'Great Western' - links the four partners and creates a highly competitive research powerhouse.
"This first opportunity for the Vice-Chancellors and key members of their academic staff to come together since GW4 was announced marks an important milestone," said Cardiff University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan, who is the inaugural Chair of the GW4 Council.
"It provided an opportunity for us all to consider where we are, where we want to be and how we're going to get there," he added.
Among the areas of discussion were key areas of joint working.
In a discussion led by the University of Bath, the alliance considered options for greater shared infrastructure opportunities, while the University of Exeter led a discussion on creating bigger communities of shared academic interest.
The University of Bristol led on the support, training, development and retention of the highest quality, most collaborative research students and staff. Cardiff University led a discussion of how best to communicate the successes of the GW4 alliance to key stakeholders and the wider public.
"The opportunities for GW4 are exciting and wide ranging, " said Professor Riordan.
"Four institutions coming together to share their state-of-the-art research equipment and infrastructure, with associated technical support, will dramatically enhance and upgrade the research base in Wales and the South-West of England.
"The same is true for opportunities to build communities of academic interest with the ability to leverage more funding and create greater impact.
"The key challenge now for us all in GW4 is to translate our aspirations into tangible outcomes and begin to use our combined strength to help set the research agenda.
"In an increasingly competitive market for students and research income, having a critical mass of research excellence is essential. In key areas our combined research excellence offers a powerful platform from which to compete for research income and boost the region's presence internationally," he added.