Message from the Chancellery: Summer 2018

19 October 2018

When two teams from UQ and India shook hands to start a new match in New Delhi in September, cricket – although always a topic of interest – was not top of mind.  

Instead, the delegations from UQ and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD) signed into effect an academy that will collaboratively generate future game changers. 

Called the UQ-IITD Academy of Research (UQIDAR), it will enrol PhD students whose targets will not simply be problems that can be solved today, but instead problems that must be solved – urgently. 

This is an image of UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj.
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj.

UQ’s visiting team in New Delhi included our Chancellor, Peter Varghese, a former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and former High Commissioner to India. Peter, a UQ alumnus, recently prepared the India Economic Strategy to 2035 for the Australian Government. He identified education as the flagship of Australia’s relationship with the world’s fastest-growing large economy, and noted that India’s education and training market was big enough for all Australian providers. 

In a similar vein, we hope the UQIDAR will prepare the ground for further productive ties, not only between IITD and UQ, but more broadly between Indian and Australian education, research and innovation. 

This is IITD’s first international joint PhD program, and will be UQ’s biggest. While Monash University and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay have an earlier model, our academy with IITD is distinctive.

The differentiation is partly due to IITD gaining additional autonomy when the Indian Government declared it to be one of only six Institutions of Eminence, in July this year.

From the outset, UQIDAR will enrol students from both Australia and India. They will receive scholarships, split their time between India and Australia, and – should they succeed – graduate after four years with a co-badged PhD. 

Students will have at least one supervisor from each university, and some will also have support from business, industry, government or the not-for-profit sector. 

In these cases, we will jointly frame PhD projects before inviting applications, so students will be accepted on the basis that they are primed to conduct research with practical value and – very importantly – with high academic integrity. 

To their advantage, partners from outside academia will gain assistance in problem-solving, as well as early sight of potential recruits moving along the study-to-career pipeline.

Student enrolments will start modestly, and build steadily to a sustainable scale. In January next year, we could welcome up to 25 students from both institutions, growing to an expected 300 in 2028.

People with PhDs are in big demand in India, to support innovation in industry and government, and to help build the academic infrastructure that will assist the education of the 400 million people the Indian government aspires to upskill. 

As reflected in the Winter 2016 issue of Contact, and elsewhere, our bilateral ties are long-standing and various. Engagement is assisted by a burgeoning community of Indian students and alumni, an emerging generation of Australian students who experience India through the New Colombo Plan, plus staff (both Indian-origin and not) who have excellent collaborations with India.

In coming years, the sight of our new league of joint PhD students making progress, graduating, and hitting big problems for six, will be something to behold.

Professor Peter Høj
Vice-Chancellor and President