The University of Edinburgh’s newly-established North American Office, headed by Executive Director Joanna Storrar, is taking steps to strengthen the University’s ties with the United States and Canada.
Since this summer, the office has worked to strengthen links with the more than 20,000 alumni in the United States and Canada, and to further opportunities for recent graduates wishing to work in North America.
Working with intern Elisabeth Peterson, Storrar visited alumni in cities across North America to establish links with internship programmes and other opportunities for employment for recent graduates.
They found that alumni in North America, as well as their extended networks, were enthusiastic to employ University of Edinburgh graduates.
In an interview with The Student, Storrar said: “it makes them feel like they’re doing something to help the university that they’re proud of coming from.”
In addition to the office’s work with alumni, Storrar said she works in many other capacities, including fundraising, developing partnerships with North American institutions, and commercialising research.
“This office is meant to cover all the external agendas that the university has, [and] all of these things are connected,” she said, stressing the importance of maintaining and developing the University’s links with North America.
While most of the office’s work can be traced back to Edinburgh, Storrar said the office’s presence in North America provides distinct benefits:
“There isn’t really any substitute for being here,” she said.
She recalled meeting with a representative from the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who was interested in connecting with researchers at the University – a connection she said was made possible by the presence of the office.
The office is committed to bringing more highly-qualified postgraduate students to Edinburgh, and is coordinating a new scholarship for North American postgraduate students.
Storrar views the John Witherspoon Scholarship, being offered for the first time for the 2015-2016 academic year, as an investment.
She said the university’s reputation is largely based on its research, and that the scholarship will help to encourage “a good stream of highly qualified of postgraduate students in who can contribute to […] research.” The office additionally organised pre-departure events for prospective North American students and their families this summer, giving them the chance to meet alumni and get more information about visas and other aspects of studying in the UK.
Storrar continued: “We’re going to add significantly to the University’s strength in the UK and in Scotland, as well as [in North America].”
“When students get back having earned a degree from the University of Edinburgh, there will be people here who know what that means.”