Cranfield University has been awarded more than £200,000 to help UK higher education to identify and manage risks arising from international collaborations.

Together with project partners the University of Edinburgh and Universities UK (UUK), the University has been given £224,800 from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)'s Research England Development fund to develop strategic export control training for the sector.

The money will fund development of a free, virtual learning tool specific to the higher education sector and centred around its needs, including real-life case studies looking at what happens when things go wrong.

Protecting the integrity of UK teaching and research

At the cutting edge of emerging technologies and technological development, universities are increasingly vulnerable to being targeted by hostile parties and nation states seeking to exploit their work for their own gain.

Compliance with the UK's Strategic Export Controls framework is a legislative obligation for higher education institutions and forms part of its wider duty of care to staff and students.

By equipping UK higher education institutions with the knowledge, awareness and tools to identify risks in their day-to-day activities, the project partners hope to encourage the cultural and behavioural changes required to enable the sector to seize opportunities for further growth in international collaboration in an informed and compliant manner. The objectives are to mitigate against the severe economic and criminal consequences which a breach of export controls can have on individuals and their institution, and send a powerful message – national and internationally – that the issue is being collectively addressed in a holistic manner with the support of Government and industry.

Professor Karen Holford, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, said: "Building on the 'UUK Managing Risks in Internationalisation: Security Related Issues' work, this grant will enable universities to pro-actively manage and address a key pillar of the wider security agenda. By providing freely-accessible material designed specifically for the university sector, we will begin to promote a wider knowledge and understanding around what is, and will continue to be, a pivotal area of compliance going forward."

University research funding from overseas sources is increasing, with UK institutions' most frequent collaborators being the US, Germany and China. Meanwhile, international students make up almost 20% of the total student population of the UK, while 20% of staff at UK universities are international.

Professor Peter Mathieson, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Edinburgh, said: "We are delighted to be working with Cranfield University to support the development and delivery of education and training for the sector in this important area, and, in doing so, protecting the integrity and strengthening resilience of the UK research base."

A series of workshops next month will encourage people from the HE sector to contribute their views and practical experiences to inform the project. To find out more, contact Chris Buckland by emailing