It was Victoria all the way last week, and for a change, it wasn’t because the Australian state’s livewire T20 squad, the Bushrangers, was in the city.
Australia’s leading education destination was in the news because the top officials of its main universities had come as part of a Super Trade Mission with the state’s premier, Ted Bailleau.
They inked research collaboration agreements in areas that ranged from intelligent traffic management technology to using biotechnology to treat TB – and offered useful pointers to prospective research students. Collaboration, clearly, was the buzzword of the week.
‘Chemical technology, industrial chemistry, textile technology and nano materials are the four major research areas we are interested in, and we are looking for partnerships in these fields with academic institutions and industry in India,’ explained RMIT University’s VC, Prof. Margaret Gardner.
Another important institution, La Trobe University, which made headlines in India in 1968 when Indira Gandhi visited it that year, has joined hands with HCL to commercialise an intelligent traffic management technology developed by its researchers. La Trobe’s Centre for Technology Infusion is also investing in a big way in tuberculosis research in India. Explained Prof. John Dewar, Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe: ‘The use of biotechnology in the treatment of tuberculosis is one of the major focus areas for us in India.
TB is one of the biggest health challenges for India and we’ll invest AUS$100 million (Rs 527 crore) to find a sustainable solution to the problem.’ Food production, environment studies and energy resources are the other fields where these universities see a huge scope for cuttingedge research collaboration.
So has sports technology. ‘India loves cricket, so sport technology, I believe, is one future area of collaboration,’ RMIT’s Gardner said. Health sciences, though, were on top of the agenda of the visiting university heads. The use of nanomaterials for the treatment of diabetes, for instance, is the research focus of the TERI-Deakin Nano- Biotechnology Research Centre. Four out of the 10 Victoria India Doctoral Scholarships went to researchers working in this area.
Each of these scholarships covers tuition fees and provides a grant of AUS$90,000 (Rs 47.4 lakh) over three years. ‘I will pursue my research in malaria and will look at the use of biotechnology for the treatment of the disease,’ said Ph.D. scholar Sreejoyee Ghosh, who’s headed for Deakin University.
Another Ph.D. candidate, Sathish Thirunavukkarasu, a trained doctor who is now going to Monash University, said, ‘My research specialisation is diabetes and ways of developing a sustainable and cost-effective solution to this lifestyle disease.’ Research is the way forward and the sky is the limit for students who choose uncertainties of the lab over the luxury of a comfortable job.