IIT Kharagpur and the University of Auckland on Monday, November 26, signed a pact to foster academic exchange and research collaboration, faculty exchange and visiting/adjunct appointments, student mobility, the premier Indian institute said.

As per the Memorandum of Understanding - the first strategic partnership of University of Auckland with a higher educational institution in India - the two educational establishments would explore opportunities for research in healthcare technologies, new materials, cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence.

"The SPARC program of India is of specific interest to us. There are several research areas which are of mutual interest for both institutions and we would be deciding on the detailed areas of work leading to exchange of faculty and students," Jenny Dixon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Strategic Engagement at University of Auckland, was quoted as saying in an IIT Kharagpur release.

Prior to visiting India, Ms Dixon had robust discussions with the Indian High Commissioner to NZ Mr Sanjiv Kohli and Honorary Consul of India in Auckland Mr Bhav Dhillon regarding the MoU.

The MoU also involves the scope of outreach centres at IIT Kharagpur and Auckland representing various prestigious higher educational institutions of both countries.

"We are the nodal institution for New Zealand for the Ministry of Human Resources Development. We can coordinate with other institutions in the country through a joint research centre specifically, a New Zealand Centre at IIT Kharagpur and an India Centre at Auckland" said IIT Kharagpur Director P P Chakrabarti.

A similar Center is functional in China for eight universities from New Zealand focusing on teaching programs, research collaborations, students and faculty exchange. The proposal would be discussed with the governments of both countries.

The two institutes will further explore possibilities of a Dual Masters and Doctoral programmes and a collaborative B.Tech. - M.Tech. Programme.

"At IIT Kharagpur, we have been striving to ensure global exposures to gain in-depth knowledge in core disciplines, as well as expertise across disciplines, is offered in collaboration with leaders in various areas of academia.

"The thrust areas in consideration for this collaboration are also in concurrence with our country to make giant leaps in healthcare, economy and quality of life," remarked Baidurya Bhattacharya, Dean, International Relations, IIT Kharagpur.

At present Indian students from third largest student community in New Zealand's academia with enrolments mostly in science, engineering and business. The country has an advanced policy setting for international students particularly in terms of post-studies employment drive. They can apply for a 3-year work visa after completing their degree.