The collaboration between SPPU (the then Pune University) and USN (the then Telemark University College) has been ongoing since 2005. The partnership has included delegation visits, staff and student exchanges, and project collaborations.
USN has now entered into a new two-year project cooperation contract with SPPU with the goal is to strengthen the strategic collaboration between the two universities.
Dr Gauri Bandekar, a former PhD student from USN Bø, will lead as the project coordinator.
The USN-SPPU Co-operation Centre was officially opened on 27 January by Arne Jan Flølo, the Norwegian Consul General in Mumbai.
“USN’s goal is to connect to the many professional environments at SPPU. Working with institutions outside Europe requires a lot from our professional departments and USN as an institution. And perhaps especially for countries like India, where the culture is different, universities are often big and come with a lot of bureaucracy. We, therefore, considered establishing a local coordinator who can contribute to strengthening the daily collaboration, which is very useful,” says Heidi Kristin Ormstad, Vice-Rector for Education at USN’s Department of Internationalisation, who attended the opening digitally and gave a speech on behalf of USN.
Aiming for more cooperation between Norway and India
The purpose of establishing a separate centre with a coordinator is to achieve the overall goal of more research and education collaboration projects between SPPU and USN.
Department of Culture, Religion and Social Studies and the Department of Natural Sciences and Environment Health at USN have actively collaborated until now. The joint projects have ranged from publications, development initiatives and teaching activities where students and staff in both the universities have been involved.
Several other faculties at USN have now signalled that they want to become better acquainted with and investigate the potential for student exchange and research collaboration.
USN has already sent four applications for cooperation with SPPU to the DIKU program called UTFORSK. UTFORSK is a key tool in the Panorama strategy — the government's strategy for higher education and research collaboration with Brazil, India, Japan, China, Russia and South Africa (2016-2020). The strategy will be continued for the period of 2021-2027.
Applications were sent from the Department of Health, Social and Welfare Studies, the Department of Natural Sciences and Environment Health, the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences, and the Department of Culture, Religion and Social Studies.
Project coordinator Dr Bandekar has already begun providing support to the employees by arranging online meetings between professionals at both the institutions, organizing webinars, supporting project applications and connecting to administrative units at USN.
Dr Bandekar will work closely with the International Relations Office at USN to map opportunities for student exchanges and project collaborations. She will also collaborate with the Section for Research to connect research departments at SPPU and USN.
“This is ground-breaking work. We are creating a centre with a local coordinator for the first time, and it will be exciting to follow this further. We hope that Gauri will contribute by forming closer ties to SSPU, both academically and administratively," says Ormstad.