Swansea University forges links with Texan counterparts

Swansea University vice-chancellor Prof Richard B Davies (left) and chancellor - and former First Minister Rhodri Morgan - (right) in Houston to launch the partnerships
Image caption Swansea University vice-chancellor Prof Richard B Davies and chancellor - and former First Minister - Rhodri Morgan in Houston

Swansea University is forging closer links with universities in Texas in a move it hopes will attract high-technology companies to south Wales.

A scholarship scheme will provide students with the chance to study in the USA, while the link-up will help with research.

The Texas universities will also have their European base in Swansea.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews said the transatlantic partnership would bring benefits across Wales.

Swansea University said the link to renowned institutions, including Rice University in Houston and Texas A&M University in College Station, was the start of a new era as an "outward-looking, globally-orientated university".

As well as forming partnerships between students and academics, it will also help industries in Wales and Texas to build relationships.

As part of the collaboration, there will be a Swansea University office in Houston while the Texas universities will establish their European base on the new Swansea University Science and Innovation Campus.

Collaborations already under way between the institutions include:

  • Joint research between the Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston and the Institute of Life Sciences and Centre for NanoHealth at Swansea.
  • Collaboration with and advice from Texas A&M University on the development of a therapeutics manufacturing facility.
  • Joint work with Texas A&M and Rice University in developing a programme of research and training relating to global water, energy and fuel crises and their resolution.

'Life-enhancing opportunities'

Prof Richard B Davies, vice-chancellor of Swansea University, said international links were "critical in making Swansea the strong research intensive university it is and creating the outstanding career and life-enhancing opportunities enjoyed by our students".

"This will further boost our already high reputation for research excellence as we seek to fulfil our ambition of becoming one of the world's top 100 universities by 2020," he added.

Image caption George Abbey and Rhodri Morgan launch the scholarship programme

Rhodri Morgan, the Swansea University chancellor and former Welsh first minister, said the scholarship programme would honour a legend from the world of space exploration who had roots in Wales.

The George Abbey Fund - named after the former director of the NASA Johnson Space Centre who is now an honorary fellow at Swansea - will support students studying in subjects associated with him, including science, engineering and the arts, particularly celtic studies.

Mr Abbey, who is also a senior fellow in space policy at Rice University, has strong family ties to south west Wales.

His Welsh-speaking mother mother was from Laugharne in Carmarthenshire and instilled in her son a strong interest in his Welsh heritage.

Mr Abbey's son James Abbey is also international strategic collaboration adviser at Swansea University.

"George Abbey's links to Wales and his continued affection for Laugharne, his mother's birthplace," Mr Morgan said as he launched the scholarship programme in Texas.

"This scheme will allow his legacy to be honoured by Swansea University."

A Swansea University spokeswoman said it would be looking for sponsors to donate to the fund, so it was as yet unclear how many students would benefit from it.

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