Punjab universities seek out future collaborations with the University of Birmingham
A major delegation representing five institutions from the state of Punjab in India has visited the University of Birmingham, to learn more about how UK universities operate and with the hope of exploring potential partnerships in the future.
The majority of the visiting academics came from Panjab University, a public state university located in Chandigarh, which serves as the capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana. One of the oldest universities in India, Panjab University is ranked number one in India in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2013-2014.
Panjab University co-ordinates a group of institutions around Chandigarh, known as the Chandigarh Region Innovation and Knowledge Cluster (CRIKC) and they work together to promote and sustain excellence in research, with joint and collaborative international research projects one of their identified aims. PEC University of Technology and the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) are also part of CRIKC, and also sent representatives on the delegation to Birmingham.
CRIKC are visiting the UK as part of a British Council initiative which is particularly focusing on how research is organised in UK universities and how links with industry are developed and sustained. At Birmingham, the group met with academics from the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, as well as the University’s Business Engagement Team.
The University of Birmingham has a proud history of engagement with India, welcoming its first Indian student in 1909. Since then, the University has provided education for more than 1,000 Indian students across the institution’s five Colleges, including for high ranking government officials. Birmingham currently has 127 Indian students enrolled, as well as 64 Indian members of staff. Furthermore, Lord Karan Bilimoria, the Indian-born founder of Cobra Beer, will be installed as Chancellor of the University of Birmingham on Thursday 17 July.
Peter Clack, Director of International Relations, University of Birmingham, said: “We are delighted at this opportunity to share knowledge and experience with our friends from the Punjab and we hope that from this visit we are able to build further institutional links with the state.”
Prior to visiting the University’s Edgbaston campus, the delegation spent time in the Birmingham suburb of Handsworth, meeting with members of Birmingham’s Indian community, many of whom originate from Punjab. The event was hosted by Lavkesh Prashar, an alumnus of Panjab University, as well as the Shaheed Udham Singh Welfare Trust and Asian Rationalist Society Britain. The informal meeting at the Shaheed Udham Singh Welfare Centre saw delegates from Panjab University discuss education in India, the reasons for their visit and their plans to collaborate more with UK partners. Questions from the audience were chaired by Lavkesh’s daughter, Neha Prasha, who is currently studying for a PhD in Economics at the University of Birmingham.
Neha said: “Many of those in the audience were alumni of Panjab University, so were keen to find out how education has been transformed there since their generation attended some 30 years ago. It turned out to be a very informative meeting and both the audience and Panjab University delegates enjoyed the interaction between the local community and overseas visitors respectively.”
University of Birmingham Provost visits India
The Provost and Vice-Principal of the University of Birmingham, Professor Adam Tickell, made a high-profile visit to Delhi and Chandigarh from the 24th to the 27th of February. Professor Tickell, the institutional lead for engagement with India within the University, visited a number of current and potential institutional partners over the four days of his trip, including visiting the University of Delhi, Birmingham’s Universitas 21 partner in India.
Highlights of the visit included signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Amity University, which indicates our willingness to work in a number of fields, including the development of a 2+2 scheme whereby engineering and computer science students can potentially study for two years at Amity University and two years at the University of Birmingham.
Alongside academic visits, the University maintained its relationship with a range of government and industry bodies who have an interest in aspects of the University’s work. In particular, a roundtable meeting with held with members of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to discuss how sustainable links between industry and academia might be built and maintained.
Professor Tickell’s visit to Chandigarh recognised the historic link between the Punjab and the city of Birmingham. Many of Birmingham’s Indian diaspora originate from the Punjab, and there remains strong links between the two areas.
Indian Biotechnology sector visits University of Birmingham
On March 20th, a visit by a small delegation from the Biotechnology sector in India, led by a representative from UKTI was made to the University of Birmingham. The delegation was visiting the UK to gain knowledge about work on the application of biological science to animal health, as well as more generally around the use of biofuels and their relation to food processing. The delegation met relevant academic experts from the University’s schools of Biosciences, Chemical Engineering and Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Delhi University VC visit the University of Birmingham
Professor Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, visited Birmingham on the 29th of January and met with the Vice Chancellor and other senior members of the University. This was Professor Singh’s first visit to the University and was an important step in cementing this important relationship.
Colleagues at Birmingham and Delhi are already collaborating in a number of areas including the development and delivery in Delhi of a joint masters module along with Melbourne University, the development of a research programme in Global Justice along with Yale University, and the Shakespeare Institute at Birmingham and Delhi University are collaborating to develop a masters module to include material on Shakespeare in India. The visit provided an opportunity to explore further areas for collaboration.
During his time at Birmingham, Professor Singh also delivered an inspiring lecture to staff and students at the Barber institute of Fine Arts entitled ‘Education in A Global Setting: The Needs of the 21st Century’. The lecture was hosted by the Institute for Advanced Studies.