The Universitas 21 global group of universities is set to expand and has invited the University of California at Berkeley to join.
Berkeley is still discussing the invitation, according to a spokes- person for the chancellor. If it accepts, it will become the 17th member. There are now four members each in North America, the Far East, Australasia and the United Kingdom, where the universities of Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Nottingham have joined the network.
The deans of science from Universitas 21 institutes will meet for the first time in Auckland, New Zealand, next week.
"The agenda is to look at all aspects of collaboration," said Geoffrey Webb, dean of science at the University of Glasgow. "The administrative links are already well established and we are now cementing the academic side and getting acquainted with colleagues."
Universitas 21 institutes have not yet established a common agreement on transferring academic credits between universities. However, various institutes do have bilateral student exchange programmes.
For example, following staff exchanges to monitor the quality of teaching and research, the University of Nottingham has established a student exchange programme with Fudan University in Shanghai, China. Both universities have agreed to recognise the work students do at the other university. They have waived additional tuition fees for exchange students although each will be responsible for paying their students' travel expenses. The first student exchange is in April.
"We will see what cooperation we can put together for student exchanges with other Universitas 21 universities," said Colin Bates, dean of science at the University of Nottingham.
Once student exchanges between Universitas 21 institutes have been agreed, the universities hope to start collaborative research programmes. This would involve assessing the quality of each other's research, according to John Blake, dean of science at the University of Birmingham. "I would like to see us establishing strong research links with other Universitas 21 universities," he added.