The Fiji National University (FNU) has formalised and strengthened its partnership with the University of Hertfordshire following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) this week.

Professor
John Senior, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire, visited
FNU and delivered a talk on research priority areas and the Doctoral College at
the University of Hertfordshire. This was followed by the signing of a MOU
between the two universities.

Speaking
at the signing, FNU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nigel Healey said the University
was excited to be partnering with a fellow institution to advance and
strengthen the University’s work in the field of research. Professor Healey
further highlighted the importance of strengthening international relations
with established institutions that have the ability to empower and nourish
development.

“When
you’re benchmarking, it’s not about looking at who is the best in the world and
trying to copy what they do. It’s about who is on the same journey we are, but
further advanced,” Professor Healey said.

“I
think universities like Hertfordshire have been on the journey that we’re on
now. They are the pathbreakers, and we saw that they built a really strong
ecosystem to support PhD students and they have  very good regulations and
procedures which they willingly helped us with.”

“We
want partnerships with universities that are on that journey but way ahead of
us and can help and guide us. ”

This
partnership was facilitated by  FNU’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Research,
Professor Mohini Singh who visited University of Hertfordshire early last year.

She
initiated this MOU for a closer working relationship with the University of
Hertfordshire for collaborative research, staff and student exchange and a
joint PhD sometime in the future.

Professor
Healey added the digital age also removed barriers such as geographical
locations and allowed for more collaboration between organisations.

“In
this digital age, there is no distance anymore. It’s what you can now do, and
it doesn’t matter where you are, you can work anywhere at any time,” Professor
Healey said.

“And
now that we have social media sites for academia, you can connect to people in
a way that you couldn’t in the past. There are lots of ways to collaborate
virtually. If you get enough virtual collaboration, it is worthwhile spending
money to go and visit (the other collaborator).”

University
of Hertfordshire Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor John Senior, echoed
similar sentiments and said the University researched areas that would be of
interest and benefit to FNU.

“We
started out much like FNU and now have about 650 research students at our dozen
research centres at the university,” Professor Senior said.

“Through
this MOU, we are excited to  seek opportunities for the exchange of
students or staff and collaborate on joint research projects and other
activities after being agreed upon by both institutions.”

“Our
research strategy is to excel in collaborative, multidisciplinary research that
addresses social, economic, cultural, scientific and environmental challenges.”

“Research
at our university is organised into the themes of food, global economy, health
and wellbeing, heritage, cultures and communities, information and security and
space. We look forward to working with FNU in some or most of these areas.”

The
objectives of the MOU are to;

  • Collaborate
    and support from the University of Hertfordshire to FNU concerning the
    operation and delivery of research degrees.
  • Collaborate
    on research on our common research priority areas. 
  • Facilitate
    staff exchange for research collaboration.

Professor
Singh highlighted that the MOU came at an opportune time and would benefit both
the staff and students of FNU.

Professor
Singh has been working with the University of Hertfordshire for almost a year
now benchmarking FNU’s newly developed PhD and Masters by Research programmes
with a well-established university in the UK to ensure the programs are of
international standards.

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