Loughborough University targets global expansion, focuses on Africa and new partnerships

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The Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University, Prof. Nick Jennings

By Kizito CUDJOE

Loughborough University, a prominent institution in the United Kingdom, is looking to expand its international footprint with a strategic emphasis on Africa and other emerging regions.

The university aims to cultivate new partnerships while strengthening existing collaborations with governments, industries, and academic institutions, according to Prof. Nick Jennings, the Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University.

During a recent visit to Ghana and Nigeria, Prof. Jennings, accompanied by Professor Malcolm Cook, the Dean of the School of Architecture, Building, and Civil Engineering, and other university officials, underscored the importance of these engagements.

“We’re here in Ghana to connect with our alumni—approximately 300 strong—and to engage with prospective students interested in Loughborough,” said Prof. Jennings, in an interview with B&FT.

He added that “We are also looking to establish new partnerships and build on existing ones, particularly in areas like climate change, net-zero initiatives, and food and nutrition.”

The Loughborough University delegation said their discussions with government had been fruitful. Prof. Jennings noted, “We had a productive meeting with the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Ghana’s ambitions in sport, especially following the successful African Games, align well with our expertise as the world’s leading university for sport-related subjects. We are excited to collaborate on enhancing health and well-being through sport.”

Addressing the potential for sports development in Ghana, Prof. Jennings expressed optimism. “Ghana is a passionate sporting nation, and we see great potential here. We’ve discussed with various governing bodies how to professionalize sports, from coaching to event management, to leverage sport for leadership and community development.”

Beyond sports, Loughborough’s commitment to sustainability and health in Africa is evident through several initiatives. For instance, Prof. Cook highlighted the university’s involvement in the Modern Energy Cooking Services project, aimed at promoting electric cooking solutions in remote communities, which are healthier and more environmentally friendly compared to cooking with traditional fossil fuels.

“We are collaborating with institutions across West Africa, including the University of Ghana and local hospitals in Accra, to improve hospital design and indoor air quality,” he said. “Hybrid ventilation systems are a key area of focus, balancing energy efficiency with health benefits.”

The university’s extensive research in artificial intelligence (AI) also holds promise for addressing Africa’s challenges. Prof. Jennings, an AI researcher for nearly 35 years, emphasized AI’s role in managing energy grids, climate modeling, and urban transportation.

He posited “AI will significantly impact various sectors, and we see a future where AI and human expertise combine to solve complex problems. This includes sustainable practices in AI itself, ensuring it benefits society without undue environmental costs.”

Despite concerns about AI disrupting job markets, Prof. Jennings was optimistic about its potential to create new job opportunities. “AI will change the job landscape, but it will also create new, highly skilled roles. The key is in integrating AI with human skills to enhance productivity and innovation.”

Loughborough University’s partnerships are not limited to academia and research; they extend deeply into industry. Prof. Jennings highlighted long-standing collaborations with companies like Rolls-Royce and Adidas, which have led to advancements in aircraft engine technology and sports equipment, respectively. “These collaborations ensure our research has real-world impact, benefiting industries and enhancing our students’ learning experiences through practical applications.”

The university’s emphasis on student employability is evident, with 97 percent of graduates employed within six months. “Our students benefit from industry placements, international experiences, and working on cutting-edge research,” said Prof. Jennings.

“This practical approach significantly enhances their employability and readiness for the global job market,” he added.

With a student population of about 20,000, including 3,500 international students, Loughborough University prides itself on providing a diverse and inclusive learning environment. “International students bring valuable perspectives, enriching our academic community. Our high student satisfaction rates and top employability statistics reflect our commitment to delivering quality education and global engagement,” Prof. Jennings stated.

Loughborough is one of the UK’s leading universities. It is ranked among some of the top-performing institutions in the country and holds an array of awards and accolades that evidence its strong performance across all areas of its delivery, including research, sport, student experience and facilities.

They have two outstanding campuses – the Loughborough Campus and the London Campus. The Loughborough Campus is situated in the heart of England while the London Campus is the postgraduate campus located in Here East, based on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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