International Strategic Advisory Group

The International Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) is hosted by the central UKRI International team. Its purpose is to provide advice, guidance and critical challenge to enable UKRI to deliver its international strategic framework.

The International SAG provides advice on:

  • the development of UKRI international strategy
  • key international policy approaches
  • the evaluation of UKRI international activity, its impact, innovation and further progression

Beyond this, the International SAG will:

  • act as a sounding board for UKRI’s plans, projects, research mechanisms
  • shape equitable partnerships
  • provide intelligence networks and channels to the UK academic community to promote the benefit of changed research directions

International SAG members

Members of the International SAG include:

  • Dame Judith Macgregor (Chair)
  • Professor Pamela Abbott, Chair in Education in the School of Education at the University of Aberdeen
  • Professor Tariq Ali, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement and Partnerships at the University of Liverpool
  • Dr Joanes Odiwuor Atela, Executive Director at the Africa Research and Impact Network (ARIN)
  • Professor Richard Catlow, University College London, and University of Cardiff
  • Professor Mike English, Professor of International Child Health, Group Leader of the Health Systems Collaborative, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford
  • Helen Jones, Director of Global Engagement Strategy at Museum of Science and Industry
  • Professor Uma S Kambhampati, Professor of Economics and Head of the School of Politics Economics and International Relations at the University of Reading
  • Professor Angela Karp, Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research
  • Professor Apala Majumdar, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
  • Professor Francisca Mutapi, Head of Group, Professor in Global Health Infection and Immunity at The University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Agnes Nairn, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Global Engagement at University of Bristol, and Chair of Marketing, at University of Bristol Business School
  • Professor Mahesh Nirmalan, Vice Dean for Social Responsibility at the Faculty of Biology Medicine and Health at The University of Manchester
  • Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, Professor in Urban Analytics at Urban Studies in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow
  • Ben Ramalingam, Director of Strategy and Innovation at the British Red Cross
  • Professor Omer F. Rana, Professor of Performance Engineering at Cardiff University
  • Professor Nitya Rao, Professor of Gender and Development at the University of East Anglia
  • Dr Mike Short, Chief Architect at SA Catapult, Adviser to NPL and Home Office, and Chair UK Telecoms Innovation Network Advisory Board (UKTIN AB)
  • Lea Simpson, Co-founder of Brink Foundation
  • Professor Michael R. Templeton, Professor of Public Health Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London

Terms of reference

Role of the group

The primary role of the International SAG is to provide advice, guidance and constructive challenge to support UKRI in delivering its international strategic framework.

The UKRI International SAG will:

  • advise on the development of both a UKRI Official Development Assistance (ODA) strategy and non-ODA strategy
  • support the development of UKRI approaches to strengthen ODA capacity
  • provide scrutiny and challenge to UKRI plans for centrally run international programmes and their aims
  • advise on collaborating internationally, such as how specific policies and approaches could be perceived by international partners and be developed to mutual benefit
  • comment and challenge on the real-world impact of UKRI programmes and policies in comparison to their ambitions
  • provide high-level advice on key international policy approaches, and contribute to the evaluation of UKRI activity, its impact, contribution to innovation and further progression
  • advise on the design of future evaluations of strategy, policy, programmes, partnerships or lessons that should be taken from the findings
  • advise on research mechanisms and shaping ways to create more equitable relationships with partners
  • provide intelligence networks and channels to help ensure the UK academic community can promote and benefit from the changed research directions
  • assist with equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and gender equality policy for UKRI’s international funding processes

Responsibilities of the International SAG members

Responsibilities include:

  • acting within the Seven Principles of Public Life (Nolan principles) and in line with the UKRI Code of Conduct, in particular to provide independent, informed advice, avoiding actual or perceived conflicts of interest by taking a collaborative approach to policy and strategy development
  • acting as ‘critical friend’ in relation to international activity, policy and partnerships
  • taking individual and collective ownership of the advice they provide, while recognising that providing advice doesn’t mean responsibility for the decisions that are made
  • using their own networks to gather intelligence that can be used in policy development and to disseminate policies and strategies
  • acting as advocates of UKRI’s international strategy and activity on behalf of UKRI
  • treating all information and discussions in confidence

Responsibilities of UKRI International team

UKRI International will:

  • bring the SAG into their strategic planning at an early stage and with appropriate background information
  • take all advice given seriously and with due consideration
  • endeavour to provide reasonable notice for meetings, papers and recruitment to allow members and applicants time to prepare
  • bring in other key stakeholders to join the discussion when appropriate

Membership diversity for the International SAG

Membership for the International SAG should:

  • aim to reflect a breadth of academic disciplines across the UK research base and the importance of taking a transdisciplinary approach to solving global challenges
  • include members who are based outside the UK
  • include members from across all career stages and reflect the diversity of working in an international landscape
  • be drawn from the academic community, other research, policymakers, development practitioner and innovation communities, including business, industry and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to fully reflect the research and innovation sector

The group membership includes:

  • independent Chair
  • UKRI International Champion
  • UKRI International Director
  • International SAG members (19)

Ways of working, meetings and attendance

Meetings are held on a quarterly basis in a hybrid format, part virtual and part in-person. Physical attendance at one meeting per year is encouraged but not mandatory.

Additional work is sometimes required outside of the formal meetings, and members are expected to commit between two and four additional days to International SAG work per year.

Members may also periodically be asked to attend short ad-hoc virtual meetings focusing on specific areas of international strategic importance to UKRI. UKRI may also consult with the group via email on a range of policy topics. Again, while participation is encouraged and welcomed in these additional activities, they are not mandatory.

Given the role is not remunerated, any additional work is carefully considered, and sufficient notice given to members to enable them to plan around other commitments.

Members are reimbursed for travel and subsistence expenses in accordance with UKRI policy (see UKRI business expense claims, business travel and subsistence policy) when attending physical meetings.

The quorum necessary for the transaction of business is at least half of the members, one of whom must be the Meeting Chair or UKRI International Director.

The group has an independent Chair.

New members are selected through a fair and open recruitment process.

Although many of the agenda items and papers will be suggested by UKRI, both via the International team and councils, all members are welcome to input ideas for agenda items. A forward look is maintained to plan future discussions and topics. The independent Chair liaises with the International Director in making the final decision on the agenda and papers for each meeting.

The International Director has sight of anything sent to an external audience. The Chair is responsible for signing off papers for discussion.

International SAG secretariat

The secretariat for the International SAG is provided by the UKRI International Governance Team, who runs the group and ensures it receives information and papers in a timely manner to enable full and proper consideration to be given to the issues tabled.

The secretariat minutes the proceedings of all meetings, including recording the names of those present and in attendance. The secretariat is responsible for ascertaining the existence of any declarations of interest and minuting them accordingly. Draft minutes are agreed with the meeting Chair and thereafter circulated promptly to all members, normally for approval at the following meeting.

The secretariat can be contacted at for any queries.

Terms of reference review

The terms of reference will be subject to review on a periodic basis.

Last updated: 11 April 2024

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