The Open Door: India welcomes the U of A
President and vice-chancellor
Earlier that day, I participated in a lively round table on Canada-India post-secondary partnerships, an event that was organized as part of the Canadian delegation to India. The round table included 15 presidents and senior administrators of India’s top universities, several high ranking Indian and Canadian government officials, including Prime Minister Harper, and from Canada’s academic community, David Naylor, president of the University of Toronto, Sheila Embleton, president of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, which is based in Calgary and New Delhi, and me. Although Harper made no commitments, he listened with interest, took many notes, and indicated that post-secondary education would be an important part of Canada’s larger strategy for broadening Canada-India relations.
The timing of this federal strategy could not be better for the U of A.
As you know, we have identified India as one of our six priority regions for building international partnerships, and our efforts have been noticed. Recent research and teaching agreements signed with the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, as well as Tata Consultancy Services, are raising the U of A’s profile within India and opening up several other opportunities for partnership. We are now in promising discussions with IIT, Kharagpur, and the University of Hyderabad.
With these agreements, the
U of A is taking international partnership onto a whole new level, moving from a one-to-one exchange model to a multi-level model that includes student exchanges, joint graduate degrees, collaborative research projects involving academic, government, and industry researchers, and the organization of international conferences and networks.
At the same time, the U of A is also playing a leadership role among other Canadian universities in the development of a national Canada-India post-secondary strategy. We aim to bring a proposal forward to the federal government in the spring that outlines the research areas where collaboration between Canada and India would have the greatest potential for advancement—for example, nanotechnology, energy, health sciences, cross-cultural studies, finance, etc.—the institutions best positioned to work together, and the amount of funding that would be needed to support initiatives.
Clearly, there is tremendous interest and support in India for broadening and strengthening relations with Canada, Canadian universities, and the U of A in particular. We are fortunate to have a very good friend in Prime Minister Singh, who we awarded an honorary degree in 1997. At the dinner, he made a special effort to ask me to send greetings to friends here in Edmonton.