University Grants Commission (UGC) and Education New Zealand (ENZ), a government agency that promotes education in New Zealand, had made a communal call for research proposals for Indian and New Zealand academics to encourage the education ties between the two nations.
ENZ is working in a joint research grant for the first time. Both the nations have agreed to commit NZ$500,000 (over Rs.25 crore) each under the India New Zealand Education Council (INZEC) framework.
This was declared on New Zealand's national day, Waitangi Day and it aims to magnify the alliance in research across a range of fields including food, security and agriculture, health, environment and sustainability, community development and innovation etc.
Research students and academic staff who are employed in a tertiary education institution or recognised centre of academic research in New Zealand can apply for the same. All education institutions in India, eligible to be aided by UGC can also apply. The maximum aid available from each funding body is the equivalent of NZ$50,000 for each project. Equipment (up to a maximum of NZ$2000), project-related consumables (up to a maximum of 15% of the total project budget), accommodation, travel etc. may be covered.
"This call for proposals is part of the activity we undertake in India through the INZEC initiative which was announced by both our prime ministers in 2011. All New Zealand universities feature in the top 500 globally, and as a country, we are highly regarded internationally in areas such as agriculture and food processing, tourism, etc," Ziena Jalil, regional director, ENZ, points out.
The second largest contributor of overseas students to New Zealand is India (after China) with over 11,000 Indian students studying in New Zealand. Last year, there was a 10% increase in the issuing of student visa to Indians. The figure was more than double in December 2013.
Studying in New Zealand is also not expensive. NZ$15,000 will be the average cost of living for students for a year.
"Education is a growing and exciting component of our bilateral relationship, with the number of Indian students in New Zealand increasing almost 200% since 2007. I'm delighted that this new initiative will see Kiwi and Indian researchers working side-by-side and contributing to knowledge creation in both our countries," said Michael Appleton, New Zealand's acting high commissioner to India.
Changes in work and visa policies have also been made by New Zealand to encourage more students from India. "We have increased the number of work hours our international students are entitled to. All tertiary level international students enrolled in a course with at least one academic year will be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during each semester break/vacation," according to Nathanael Mackay, area manager, Immigration New Zealand.