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Institute of International Education selects NIU for program designed to boost ties with India

September 12, 2011
Deborah Pierce

Deborah Pierce

The Institute of International Education has selected Northern Illinois University to participate in a program that aims to increase higher education connections between U.S. and Indian institutions.

NIU was one of only 11 U.S. colleges and universities selected for the 2012 India initiative of the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP). The university has long had a strong connection with universities in India and is committed to expanding the extent of its collaborations.

NIU currently enrolls nearly 300 international students from India, with most studying at the graduate level, and the Indian Students Association is one of the most dynamic and active on campus.

About 40 NIU faculty have research or other interests in India, and the university offers several courses on Indian or South Asian topics. Additionally, NIU has three basic or first-level cooperative agreements with institutions in India and is exploring stronger cooperation with five universities near New Delhi.

“In our strategic plan, one of our priorities is to strengthen our regional and global reach,” said Deborah Pierce, associate provost for International Programs. “In fostering greater cooperation with India, we forward our global objectives while serving our regional interests in northern Illinois.”

Over the next year, a core group of NIU staff will participate in a series of training activities arranged by IIE to help the university implement and sustain connections with more institutions in India, culminating with a study tour to India in early 2012 to meet with representatives from campuses there.

“Before moving into specific programmatic agreements, we wish to gain a more nuanced understanding of tertiary education in India, along with possible opportunities there, in order to improve our likelihood of developing more strategic partnerships of mutual benefit,” Pierce said.

An IIE review panel chose the U.S. colleges and universities based on successful applications that outlined their strong interest in building ties with institutions in India and their need for the IAPP assistance.

Promod Vohra

Promod Vohra

“NIU’s commitment to being a global university necessitates that we develop active partnerships with universities across the globe to promote student and faculty exchange programs, study abroad programs and joint research programs,” said Promod Vohra, dean of NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

Vohra has long encouraged greater exchange with Indian institutions.

India is an upcoming economy and is bound to play a strong role in shaping the world economy,” he said. “It is in our best interest that we partner with universities in India to educate our students to be functional in the global market and also to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship.”

IIE’s Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education runs the IAPP program, which was established in 2009 with funding from the Department of Education to help increase the number of partnerships between institutions of higher education in the United States and India.

Other institutions selected for the 2012 India initiative include Fort Hays State University, George Mason University, Queens College (City University of New York), Rollins College, Rutgers University, Suffolk University, Thomas College, the University of Kentucky, the University of Oregon and the University of Montana.

Each institution has made a commitment to form a campus-wide task force to work on prospective partnerships, conduct an institution-wide inventory of activities pertaining to India and develop a strategic plan focused on partnership with India. Activities might include joint programs, student exchanges or faculty linkages for collaborative research and teaching.

Pierce said she hopes all of the NIU colleges will be involved.

“Broadly speaking, we’d like to create new mutually beneficial cooperative relationships that involve more than one area or college of NIU, and more than one area of cooperation,” she said. “If our faculty could find appropriate research partners at a particular institution in India, for example, that would open the door to their students pursuing graduate study at NIU, and might also encourage study abroad opportunities for our NIU students in India.”

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has network of 18 offices worldwide and more than 1,000 member institutions.