The Indian ambassador to Ireland H.E. Akhilesh Mishra visited the Technological University of the Shannon’s (TUS) Athlone campus this week, where he met with TUS President Prof. Vincent Cunnane and members of the university’s Indian community.
Ambassador Mishra spoke about the shared history and similarities between Ireland and India and the opportunities for both countries to learn from each other and leverage their “unique and complementary strengths”.
In particular, he pointed to the “catalytic role” TUS can play in India and Ireland’s economies through “mutually beneficial sharing, learning, and partnering”.
India, which achieved independence in 1947, is now a global economic player and set to become the most populous country on earth by mid-2023, surpassing China.
A major exporter of rice, meat and sugar, India is also the fastest growing economy and going “up the skill ladder” in areas like space technology, nuclear technology, nanotechnology and fintech.
Ambassador Mishra emphasized the lack of awareness of contemporary India in Ireland and the importance of sending students for short term study visits so that students get to “feel India, to know India, get connected with India”.
These familiarisation visits, he said, are key to “knowledge sharing, understanding”.
India is home to 1000 universities and produces up to 42 million university graduates a year; by 2030, it is expected that about 25 per cent of the world’s skilled workforce will come from India.
According to Ambassador Mishra, India’s rapidly growing population represents both a challenge and an opportunity – “It all depends on how they are all skilled,” he said.
He said Ireland’s environment for investment, creativity, innovation, world-class higher education and industry/academia linkages are “extremely appealing” and that India could learn from Ireland’s experience in “transformative thinking” and in universities not only doing research but “anticipating problems and providing solutions to society and industry”.
“That is why it’s extremely high priority for me to have a broader, fuller engagement with Ireland and also facilitate broader linkage with India,” Ambassador Mishra explained.
A priority international region for TUS, the technological university has been very active in India since 2002, participating in Enterprise Ireland trade missions and Education Ireland fairs.
TUS’s Indian office is based in Gurgaon City, 30km south west of Delhi, and the university has agreements with 15 partner universities in India.
“Through these partnerships, we aim to increase international cooperation between India and Ireland, through mutual cultural understanding, exchange of academic and technological resources, and joint research-based and educational initiatives,” TUS President Prof. Vincent Cunnane explained.
“TUS is deeply committed to the principle of mobility and has been very active in receiving and facilitating students and staff from our Indian partner universities.”
“India is a fast-growing region for us, and this focus on internationalisation is a key pillar of our new strategic plan, which we launched just three weeks ago,” he said.
TUS currently has 175 Indian students studying across its six campuses, more than half of which are studying at master’s or PhD level.
Over the course of the visit, Ambassador Mishra got an opportunity to meet with several of those students and tour Ericsson’s Software Campus in Athlone, a key industry partner for TUS.
Ambassador Mishra was also presented with a 5,000-year-old piece of bog oak fashioned into a sailboat by a local artisan, symbolic of the River Shannon which connects TUS’s six campuses along its spine.
Donnacha McNamara, VP for International at TUS, who has travelled quite extensively in India, said he looks forward to “increasing and deepening the relationship between Ireland and India”.
“We have a shared colonial past, and we have a shared future today as nations who have come from that colonial past and have taken that history and turned it into a positive as we develop as countries. In my travels, that’s something that I’ve always shared. It’s a kinship that’s there in our history,” he said.
“Internationalisation of education – that partnership and relationship across communities – is the future, and we are committed to delivering on the best of that, for our communities, our economies, and for the vision of what can be achieved by working together and leaning into each other’s strengths and complementarity.”