Engaging with University of Edinburgh to meet global challenges head-on

  • Ayesha Banerjee, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 07, 2015 19:20 IST

From low-carbon innovation for harnessing solar energy to treatment of autism and dementia to wildlife conservation – more and more Indian institutes are engaging with the University of Edinburgh, the sixth oldest in the English-speaking world, for research support to find solutions to critical challenges the world faces.

Officials from the university – which has declared India as a priority country and marked October 2 as India Day, recently visited the country to strengthen ties and explore more areas of cooperation. Joint programmes are being conducted in neurosciences, medicine, wildlife conservation, livestock health, leadership in education, social aspects surrounding off-grid energy systems and energy consumption, bio-gas, marine renewable energy, access to medicine with respect to governance, cultural issues, technology in medicine and its social impact, biopolitics and justice in tribal communities, robotics and entrepreneurship etc.

Professor Charlie Jeffery, senior vice principal of Edinburgh University, told HT Education that the university was also sharing its expertise in low carbon innovations with the National Chemical Lab, Pune, as part of a UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) project on ‘sustainable chemistry.’ This includes solar energy and biodegradable polymers and provides support for staff and student exchanges to stimulate new research by pooling the expertise within the partners. Such efforts, it is hoped, will lead to effective harnessing of solar energy in the region.

Focus on ties also means that this year Edinburgh’s scholarship funding for Indian students will rise to almost £1,00,000 ( Rs. 1crore). The university also recently established the Edinburgh India Institute, to encourage a greater awareness of India in Scotland. Research was critical for any university, Jeffery said. “We believe that the global grand challenges that face us can be met most successfully by working together in a ‘best-with-best’ international partnerships model. This has been the university’s long-term strategy with regards to India and our most recent trip, in February, was a good example of this approach. We have reinforced and build upon pre-existing relationships and achievements and by undertaking meetings with institutions that are new to us, we opened up the possibility of yet more partnerships.”

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