The foreign connection

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By Universities abroad are now keen to collaborate with prestigious Indian institutes, reports Tessy Koshy
  • Published 27.12.07
Ties that teach: TERI has collaborated with the Freie University, Berlin and Michigan State University (top)

The trend that started with management education has now percolated to specialised institutes as well. From institutes specialising in fashion to sustainable development, the collaborations have been happening in educational bodies across sectors. So, if Delhi-based non-governmental organisation Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) recently announced a tie-up with the University of Victoria, Canada, to create new opportunities for international internships, the Pearl Academy of Fashion, Delhi, just closed a deal with Japan’s Bunka University to take up joint research initiatives.

Or take for instance The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) University in Delhi that has courses in the realm of energy, environment and sustainable development. Close on the heels of a tie-up with the Michigan State University, TERI entered into another collaboration with the Freie University, Berlin and soon forged yet another association with the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia.

Research projects and exchange programmes are some of the prominent features of these agreements. “Such partnerships provide a great opportunity to do joint research projects,” says Rajiv Sethi, registrar, TERI University. Both TERI University and Freie University (FU) do a lot of research in the fields of climate protection, resources management, environmental policy and governance. “So, it makes a lot of sense to work together to try and develop a knowledge base for political problem-solving in the areas of environmental protection and climate change,” points out Kirsten Jörgensen from the environmental policy research centre of Freie University. With UNSW, a research university with particular expertise in energy and water resources management, the tie-up with TERI will be across the faculties of science, engineering, built environment and management.

Such collaborations are a great way to exchange ideas and experiences. The partnering programmes help students to participate in summer schools in the universities abroad, attend classes and also get supervision for their research projects. “The immediate effect is that the students enjoy a different study environment and, in the long run, it helps them to build a more rounded CV,” asserts Rajat Kathuria, professor and registrar of the International Management Institute (IMI), Delhi. IMI has just entered into one such tie-up with the Korea Labor Education Institute (KLEI), Kwangju, Republic of Korea. They already boast of 15 memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with universities based in countries as diverse as Australia, Mongolia and the US. In the coming year, IMI students will be part of exchange programmes to the IESEG — School of Management, Lille, France, Griffith University, Australia and New Jersey Institute of Technology, US.

Many of these universities have long-term India-centric plans in the pipeline. In March 2008, TERI and FU teachers will offer a joint seminar on environmental governance in India and Europe. In February 2008, UNSW will be appointing 21 visiting research fellows from India for an international research workshop on the university campus in Australia. Other significant links that UNSW is currently developing with India include the commercialisation of second generation solar technology and UNSW’s flyash bricks (building materials made entirely out of flyash waste from coal fired power stations).

“For us the tie-up with TERI is only one part of a much broader engagement with India. We are particularly active in India because we want to promote a global education agenda, which not only means taking in international students but also redesigning degrees for Australian students to incorporate semesters of study overseas,” says Louise Williams, associate director (media and communications), UNSW International.

As India is moving towards becoming one of the leading world economies, these global universities also want to benefit from developing strategic partnerships. “There is a lot of interest in India today and exchange programmes under such partnerships are a great way to tell people that they have Indian students on campus. It also improves the diversity in their university,” adds Kathuria. Further, many of these foreign students plan to work in India in future and the exchange programmes are an excellent opportunity for them to come and understand the culture of the country beforehand.