France-New Zealand Study Tours Program brings universities together
An invitation program is bringing French and New Zealand higher education and research closer together. The Embassy of France in New Zealand launched the France-New Zealand Study Tours Program in 2016.
The initiative aims to strengthen the relationship between French universities and New Zealand, both in terms of academic relations (staff and student exchange programs, exchange of faculty members, joint degrees) and research on issues both countries have identified as priorities.
These study tours involved four to five days of meetings and visits in France, carefully designed for each participant based on expectations and anticipated goals.
Delegations from four New Zealand eight universities have participated in this program in 2016. These visits were a great success for New Zealand delegation members and their French counterparts.
Massey University College of Sciences Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Raymond Geor, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Massey Business School Professor Sarah Leberman, and Acting Director - International and International Relations Director Michael O’Shaughnessy took part in the program from June 6-10.
"All institutions visited had potential for future collaborative activity, but several particularly stood out in this regard," they said.
"The engagements with IRSTEA, Montpellier SupAgro, INRA, IRD and ESC Rennes all confirmed existing productive collaborative linkages, as well as clear interest and ideas to leverage existing platforms to build sustainable relationships for ongoing mutual benefit."
Otago University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise Professor Richard Blaikie and Deputy Vice-Chancellor External Engagement Professor Helen Nicholson took part in the program from September 14-19.
“We have been actively following up on many of the links that we made, and there are some very useful relationships that will be strengthened or developed; for example, it is likely that Pierre Le Ber from France Génomique will be invited to New Zealand early next year to discuss collaboration with New Zealand Genomics Limited,” they said.
Victoria University of Wellington Deputy Vice-Chancellor Engagement Professor Allan Frazer undertook a study tour from October 10-14.
"The trip was excellent," Prof. Frazer said, "there were a large number of actions emanating from it that we are currently following up. Of particular interest was my visit to the ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration).
"Victoria University, as a capital city university and our strategic aspiration to be a great global-civic university, is keen to explore new ways of interacting with the public sector and this visit provided us with some fresh ideas."
University of Auckland Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Jim Metson took part from October 24-28.
"There are a number of immediate areas which we will work on for building collaboration, especially in biomedical imaging and ICT," he said.
"It was also extremely useful to catch up with CNRS and Ministry staff to understand a little more as to how the French Science system is set up.
"Paris alone is a large and wonderfully complex science ecosystem with multiple entry points and it was useful to get some feel for this.”
Significant collaborations likely
The delegation members found the study tours were informative and contributed to a better understanding of French higher education and research systems.
These meetings were relevant and will likely generate significant collaborations. They allowed participants to reconnect with existing university partners in France and forge new links with non-partners.
These study tours helped raise the profile of existing collaboration with French partner institutions within each university and clarify lines of thinking about how the university can work with French partners to build these into longer-term partnerships.
A number of positive discussions have been undertaken and relevant opportunities identified. Two more visits are already planned as part of the program in 2017.