From Swansea to Grenoble: French connection will boost research links and give new opportunities to students

Pioneering research in areas such as medicine, computer science and energy will be boosted by a new partnership agreement between Swansea University and Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble.

The agreement, the first major strategic partnership agreement between a UK and French university, was signed in the French city.  It will also lead to new opportunities for students to spend time studying overseas.  

VC Grenoble Oct Picture: The agreement is signed by Swansea University Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies (right) and his counterpart from Université Joseph Fourier, Professor Patrick Levy. 

Next year, Université Joseph Fourier will merge with other Grenoble universities and research centres to create a “SuperUniversity” called Université Grenoble Alpes.  This will extend Swansea’s collaboration to Engineering, Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Following soon after a similar strategic partnership agreement signed with top universities in Texas, the link with Grenoble reflects Swansea’s commitment to being an outward-looking, globally orientated university.

The Grenoble student exchanges will not be confined to students fluent in French.  An increasing proportion of teaching is in English and this will create mobility opportunities for Swansea students who are not linguists.

Swansea has been working with the French Embassy to develop legal agreements which permit joint degrees.‌

Grenoble agreement - group shotThe first student to study for a joint Swansea/Grenoble PhD is being recruited and will research Kashin-Beck disease, which stunts growth and destroys the joints of children and young adults.  It is already known that selenium deficiency is the cause and that taking supplements can help.  However, we don’t know how selenium works. By understanding this process, it is possible that there could be other benefits, for example treating osteoarthritis.

Picture: Senior figures from Swansea University with their counterparts from Université Joseph Fourier

Swansea University Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies underlined the importance of the new agreement:

“Active international links are critical in making Swansea the strong research intensive university it is.”

“Our globalisation strategy emphasises the importance of strategic partnerships with strong universities elsewhere in the world. In addition to undergraduate, postgraduate and academic staff exchange programmes we are interested in joint activities which can extend from collaborative working with industry to shared appointments of academic staff.”

“Student exchanges are a key part of the Grenoble Partnership.  We know how positively employers view this type of overseas study.  Universities like Swansea do not focus solely on the academic development of their students.  We also have a vital role in character development, providing a life-enhancing experience.  Part of this is expanding horizons, and what better way is there than spending time elsewhere in the world as an integral part of your degree?”

“I also suspect that our students will be attracted by the skiing at Grenoble while Grenoble students will be trying surfing at Swansea?”

“Both cities are located in particularly beautiful areas with high quality of life but Grenoble is an exemplar of how universities can help support a vibrant, innovative, high-tech economy.  With the new Science and Innovation Campus under construction, SwanseaUniversity has started along this road; the Grenoble links will help us deliver similar success for the Swansea Bay City Region.”