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MoU inked to boost NZ-India partnerships

An MoU between the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and all eight New Zealand universities has been signed to facilitate the setting up of a New Zealand Centre at the IIT that will be a focal point of academic activity for both countries.

This first-of-its-kind joint initiative will boost academic ties between the countries. Photo: Education New Zealand

The selected projects will be announced in June this year

This first-of-its-kind joint initiative will boost academic ties and is aimed at discussing and developing projects for long-term research in areas include cybersecurity, advanced biological and healthcare systems, engineering and technologies for clean water.

“The new centre reflects on our efforts to embrace internationalisation”

IT Delhi and the universities have agreed to seed fund up to 10 research projects, with matching commitments from both sides of approximately US$10,000 – bringing the potential total funding to $100,000.

The selected projects will be announced in June this year, and the researchers will receive $10,000 each towards the project.

Jennifer Dixon, deputy vice-chancellor (strategic engagement), University of Auckland, led the New Zealand delegation said it is a significant step in New Zealand’s long-term education relationship with India.

“We are dedicated to creating future global citizens and we look forward to the development of cutting-edge research through the association in areas such as cancer genomics, robotics, data science and wastewater treatment,” she told The PIE News.

The centre will host visiting academics and researchers, support student mobility and act as a forum for diplomatic and trade dialogue among different sectors.

Sanjeev Sanghi, dean – alumni affairs and international programs at IIT Delhi – said the institute was pleased to be associated with New Zealand varsities.

“The new centre reflects on our efforts to embrace internationalisation, open up opportunities for new research collaborations and increase global exposure for our students,” Sanghi said.

“We look forward to collaborating more with universities from New Zealand and other countries as well to keep improving, learning and exchanging knowledge and practices in areas of research and STEM.”

John Laxon, Education New Zealand’s regional director (Asia), added that the centre would be a “one-of-a-kind” research establishment.

“A research-focused New Zealand centre at IIT Delhi builds on New Zealand’s status as a preferred education destination for [Indian] students, with a 71% increase in Indian students choosing to study in New Zealand universities in 2019,” he noted.

In another development to foster ties between both countries, the University of Auckland hosted a knowledge exchange workshop on rankings for universities and institutions in New Delhi on February 14.

As many as 20 Indian institutions, including Indian Institutes of Technology at Delhi, and Madras, Jindal Global University and Shiv Nadar University participated in the event.

The topic of the workshop was ‘university rankings – what they entail, what they mean for universities, strategies and practices.’

Dixon from the University of Auckland and a colleague Jingwen Mu, senior planning analyst, shared their perspective and pragmatic approaches to rankings.

Other speakers included Kanika Bhal, dean of planning at IIT Delhi; Rupamanjari Ghosh, vice-chancellor of Shiv Nadar University, and Arjya Majumdar, executive director of academic planning at Jindal Global University who shared some Indian perspectives, experiences and challenges with regards rankings.

The experts also explored ranking methods and discussed techniques that can assist in improving ranking performance of institutions.

Questions such as ‘should rankings drive institutional behaviour or help provide insights into performance,’ and ‘how do national rankings systems overlap or compete against international reputation rankings’ were also addressed.

“Whether we like it or not, rankings are important for universities. Students look to a university’s ranking as a proxy of its quality – that is the quality of its teaching and research,” noted Dixon.

“Whether we like it or not, rankings are important for universities”

“Our discussions with Indian institutions will help us know more about the strategies, challenges, opportunities and ways to optimise our performances on prominent world rankings.

“We hope Indian institutions will learn about building internal capabilities, the importance of data analytics, and staff citations when it comes to rankings,” she told The PIE.

Ghosh of Shiv Nadar University added: “All of us in higher education need to be accountable. Rankings serve as a mirror and empower self-appraisal. But a uniform set of ranking parameters is not fair to the diverse missions of institutions.”

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