Low Represents UVA in International Academic Consortium
Spanning eight countries, 500,000 students, and 80,000 staff across 16 universities, an international network of leading research-intensive universities is collaborating to create educational, research, and entrepreneurial opportunities on a scale that no single institution would be able to achieve on their own. Founded in 1997, Universitas 21 (U21) builds on growing efforts in higher education to operate more effectively across national and regional boundaries. The University of Virginia is the only American member university.
UVA joined the consortium in May of 2001 while Hardy Cross Dillard Professor of Law Peter Low ’63 was the University’s Provost. He continues as one of two UVA representatives to the consortium (the other is President John Casteen). “Participation in U21 activities,” Low says, “is an important component of the University’s focus on international educational initiatives. Most of the impact is felt in the College and in other units of the University that provide undergraduate education, but the entire University is affected. In the Law School, for example, relationships with the University of Melbourne in Australia and the University of Nottingham in England have been facilitated by the University’s participation in U21.”
Professor John Hay, chair of U21 and Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Queensland in Australia, believes that “strong partnerships linking like-minded universities around the world may prove the most effective long-term strategy for international engagement in higher education.”
U21 bases its projects and initiatives around three strands of activities — collegial, collaborative, and entrepreneurial. Each of these engages member universities in different ways in accord with their own individual strengths and priorities.
In 2001, U21 started a joint venture with Thomson Learning (owner of West Publishing Company) called Universitas 21 Global, an online university committed to providing quality online higher education in a global marketplace. Based in Singapore, Universitas 21 Global launched its MBA program in May 2003 and currently enrolls students from 15 countries around the world.
The quality of U21 Global offerings is monitored for U21 by an entity called U21QAS (U21 Quality Assurance Services), which operates from offi ces located near the Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville. President Casteen is Chairman of the Board of U21QAS, and Professor Low has been heavily involved in the activities of U21QAS as a board member, consultant, and (until February of 2005) operating manager.
U21 produces a quarterly newsletter and regular e-bulletins detailing current and future projects from across the network. Copies of all recent issues plus the latest information on the network can be found at www.universitas21.com.
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