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U Auckland and IIT Kharagpur launch joint PhD

The University of Auckland has announced a joint PhD program with the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, marking the first time a New Zealand university and an IIT have launched such a program as part of a bid to develop economic and research ties between the two countries.

The University of Auckland has announced a joint PhD programme with the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. Photo: University of Auckland.

“The scope of collaborations between the two institutions is vast"

“This historic agreement recognises the importance of top institutions engaging internationally”

The program will begin in engineering but is open to other subject areas. Students from IIT Kharagpur and the University of Auckland who participate will study under the supervision of academics in both institutions and will spend time in both universities.

“This historic agreement recognises the importance of top institutions engaging internationally,” said University of Auckland vice-chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon.

“India is of tremendous economic importance to New Zealand and I welcome the opportunity this partnership will bring to enhance research outputs at both institutions, as well as the enriched learning it will deliver for PhD students,” he said.

IIT Kharagpur, located in West Bengal, is India’s fifth-ranked university and known for its research and teaching in advanced manufacturing, affordable healthcare technology, advanced transportation systems and infrastructure, and sustainable food security.

Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya, IIT Kharagpur director, visited the University of Auckland to officially sign the agreement.

“IIT Kharagpur, the first, the largest and the most diverse member of India’s IIT family, takes immense pride in initiating this joint PhD program with New Zealand’s top university,” said Bhattacharyya.

“The scope of collaborations between the two institutions is vast and we will provide all necessary support to take our relationship to greater heights.

“This initiative is the first of its kind with any Indian institute and the University of Auckland. I am looking forward to welcoming University of Auckland students and faculty into our campus at Kharagpur in the near future.”

India is the second largest full degree market for the University of Auckland, and will soon have the largest tertiary education aged population in the world.

The university has been developing ties with India since 2018 when it sent a delegation to the country to sign general agreements of cooperation with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur.

Brett Berquist, director international at the University of Auckland, said that all eight New Zealand universities are working collaboratively to increase their engagement with Indian institutions.

“To identify appropriate partners for the University of Auckland, we commissioned research and reviewed existing connections with India across all faculties with a reference group of academic staff, many of whom are from India, including several graduates of IIT Kharagpur,” he said.

“We led a senior delegation to Kharagpur in 2018 and since then, leadership from six of our eight faculties have visited the IIT Kharagpur campus.

“The rapid levels of engagement among our institutions is a good indicator for productive collaboration.”

Berquist told The PIE  that the PhD is is part of our long-term strategy to increase engagement with India.

“I formed an academic reference group to review existing research collaboration, commissioned a study from SannamS4 with recommended partnerships for each faculty and university-wide using a clear set of criteria, and then reviewed these with the reference group,” he said.

“We have 3 faculty with degrees from IIT KGP and found significant potential for deeper engagement.  Their international office is very efficient with good follow-through.

“On our end 6 of our 8 faculties have visited at senior levels to explore potential engagement in research, joint programme offerings, and other areas.”

Berquist said that the university hopes to see this form the basis of a long-standing productive relationship in research collaboration and joint degree delivery.

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