Panjab, Birmingham varsities come together to improve quality of life

New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) Experts from Chandigarhs Panjab University (PU) and the University of Birmingham have kick-started an initiative to improve the quality of life in the two cities — and the wider world.

“India is a very important partner-country for the University of Birmingham as our researchers continue to foster strong partnerships across the globe. As a civic university in the 21st century, our responsibilities include contributing to enriching the life of our home city and the wider world,” University of Birmingham Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) Robin Mason told IANS in an interview.

Towards this end, experts from the two universities, at a two-day workshop earlier this week in Chandigarh and New Delhi, focused on developing joint research projects around a range of themes — including sustainable cities and infection/microbiology/antimicrobial resistance. The projects will draw on both Indian and British expertise to benefit the people of both the countries, Mason said.

“We were keen to find ways of working with partners in India — drawing on both Indian and British expertise to benefit the people of both countries — to lay the foundations for joint research that could help to solve major problems facing both countries,” he added.

The agreement for the initiative was signed in December 2015, after which several months were spent on exchange visits to identify specific areas of cooperation.

“In parallel to the exchange visits, Birmingham researchers had been working with (PU-led) Chandigarh Region Innovation and Knowledge Cluster (CRIKC) in areas including public health and women’s cancer, advanced manufacturing, cyber security, and transportation to tackle common challenges,” Mason said.

“We had also joined our colleagues at the University of Nottingham in seeking ways to work with partners in India to find common solutions to shared problems and map out a research pathway for future development,” he added.

Also being looked at is an agreement to discuss closer cooperation between CRIKC and the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham by “developing practical ways of making our partnership even stronger and more effective”, Mason said.

CRIKC was conceived in 2012 to enable individuals and institutions to enhance their performance levels by forging inter-institutional collaboration and sharing resources and facilities. The objective was to help Chandigarh institutions compete with the best nationally and gain recognition to attract corporate participation in higher education.

“The British Council initiative to promote collaboration between CRIKC institutions and UK universities, particularly in the Midlands region, has enabled us to learn best practice at international level,” CRIKC chair and PU Vice Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover said.

Is the project time-bound or open-ended? “While specific research projects may be of fixed duration, we look forward to developing a long and productive partnership that draws on both Indian and British expertise to benefit the people of both our countries,” Mason said.

“We are open to opportunities for academic collaboration across India, although we expect the partnership with Panjab University and CRIKC to be a particularly important one,” Mason said when asked about similar initiatives with other institutions/entities in India.

The guiding principle is that the research outcomes produce benefits for people in both India and the UK, he added.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at vishnu.makhijani@ians.in)

–IANS

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