Australian Ambassador to Thailand visits AIT

Welcomed to the campus for exploratory discussions by AIT President
Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, Ambassador Robilliard was briefed on AIT
academics, research, and outreach activities, as well as the historical
linkage between Australia and AIT.

Ambassador Robilliard expressed interest in knowing AIT’s full range
of current collaborations with Australia, to identify where specific
opportunities may exist. He was also receptive to learn as much as
possible about the AIT faculty secondment initiative, and the upcoming
Regional Forum on Climate Change to be hosted by AIT in July.

Australia wants to kick-start productive partnerships with Thailand
across a broad range of scientific fields, and is keen to push forward
partnerships in postgraduate higher education and research and
development to the fullest extent possible, the diplomat told senior
AIT Management officials. “Australia and Thailand should be natural
partners,” the diplomat said.

President Worsak introduced the ambassador to many aspects of AIT’s
regional focus and international character. He was pleased to inform
that Australia is one of the eight founding member countries of the
South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which founded AIT in 1959.

Ambassador Robilliard was also briefed about Australia's official
multilateral program at AIT which ended in the late 1990s. From 1972 to
1998, Australia provided 519 academic scholarships to enable top Asian
students to pursue Master’s and Doctoral degrees at AIT, President
Worsak said. Also, Australia’s in-kind support to the institute
amounted to 351 million Thai baht.

At the meeting, President Worsak proposed AIT’s new model of faculty
secondment, for Australia’s consideration. With AIT as a neutral,
connecting platform for pan-Asia academic engagement, advanced
countries are invited to second scholars to work on transnational and
regional issues along with seconded faculty from ASEAN and South Asian
countries. India and Pakistan have already agreed to support this
model, he said.

Indicating that Australia aims to work closely with countries in the
Asian region, Ambassador Robilliard said he was happy to learn more
about the initiative.

President Worsak also invited Australia to send scientists to
participate in the Regional Forum on Climate Change (RFCC2015) which
will take place at AIT on July 1-3, 2015. The high-level international
conference is supported by France and will involve the participation of
Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as UNESCAP and other United
Nations agencies. It will be a major platform to prepare regional input
for the United Nations Climate Change Conference known as ‘COP21’
planned for Paris, France in November-December this year.