Tel Aviv: Describing India as a “strategic priority”, Israel’s prestigious Tel Aviv University (TAU) has said that it will expand its partnership with its academic institutions and industries to boost bilateral ties as the two countries mark 30 years of their diplomatic relations next year.

TAU hosted External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar last week during his five-day maiden visit to Israel where he met with Presidents and senior executives of several leading academic institutions, including Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion, Ben Gurion University, Haifa University and Bar Ilan University to discuss opportunities for expanding and deepening academic ties between the two countries.

Jaishankar also interacted with a group of Indian students studying in Israel to hear about their experiences and suggestions for how to expand students’ mobility.

He noted that universities play a significant role in strengthening bilateral relations and whilst “there has been increased cooperation in the higher education field in recent years, there is much potential to boost ties in many fields, including technology and innovation”.

Currently, there are around 1,000 Indian students studying in Israel, almost half of them post-doctoral fellows.

Jaishankar said that India is committed to finding new ways to expand our relationship , and the challenge before us is how to scale it up and shift it to the next gear .

Professor Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University, said that the minister’s visit was a “significant one” in the context of the upcoming 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations and growing ties between the two countries.

“TAU sees India as a strategic priority and we see great potential in expanding our partnerships with leading academic institutions and industry in India, Porat said in a press release.

Indian Studies is a strong component of the TAU’s East Asian Studies department where courses in Sanskrit and Hindi are offered. The department has also been organising “Hindi Divas” for almost two decades and some of its students were offered scholarships in the past to travel to India to brush up their Hindi with the support of members of the Indian diamond community in Israel.

“The strong academic collaboration between India and Israel is built on common values which facilitates the personal interactions, said Professor Daniel Chamovitz, President of Ben Gurion University.

The Israeli university leaders have called for the establishment of more bilateral mechanisms to support joint research and student mobility, the press statement said.

Roohi Chaudry, a Ph.D. student in the field of cancer bio-physics at TAU, said that studying at TAU and Israel has helped me to gain insight into so many diverse cultures and take a giant leap out of my comfort zone to unravel endless opportunities.”

The Engineering faculty at TAU has also been attracting a lot of students every year from India with the cost of engineering studies in private colleges in India being almost at par with that in Israel.

Tata’s have invested millions of dollars in TAU’s commercial arm with the right of first refusal on the innovation coming out of the institution.

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