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Joint PhD with India a first


The University of Auckland has signed an historic agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur to offer a joint PhD programme.

It is the first of its kind between a New Zealand university and an Indian Institute of Technology.

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

University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon says the joint PhD programme significantly strengthens the economic and research ties between New Zealand and India.

“This historic agreement recognises the importance of top institutions engaging internationally. 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,” Professor McCutcheon says.

The programme will begin in engineering but is open to other subject areas.

Students from IIT Kharagpur and the University of Auckland who participate in this programme will study under the supervision of academics in both institutions and will spend time in both universities.

Dr Caroline Daley, Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Auckland, says doctoral candidates will have access to opportunities at both institutions, whether it’s related to their research programme or their professional development.

“Employers are looking for doctoral graduates who can work in culturally diverse teams and who are able to adjust to new environments in a timely, positive way. Graduates of this joint PhD programme will have an excellent academic record, and a CV that stands out,” Dr Daley says.

Faculty of Engineering Dean Professor Nic Smith says the agreement formalises and deepens the relationship between the two universities.

“This is a fantastic step that provides greater support at the institutional level for the strong and diverse relationships between our staff and students. The talent of IIT students and their interest in participating in New Zealand-based research projects is a really exciting development,” Professor Smith says.

Some of the research areas identified for collaboration include computational modelling, cyber-security, and advanced materials, as well as precision-driven medicine and cancer research.

Professor Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya, IIT Kharagpur Director, visited the University of Auckland on Friday with colleague, Dean of International Relations Professor Baidurya Bhattacharya, to officially sign the agreement.

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

"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, rising as China’s is falling.

Brett Berquist, Director International at the University of Auckland, says 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,” Mr Berquist says.
“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.”

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