President Eden Woon this month led a two-week AIT international cooperation mission to five countries across Europe. From May 2-14, the president engaged with university leaders for bilateral cooperation at eleven distinguished universities in the United Kingdom, France, Lithuania, Estonia and Romania, discussing bilateral relations, signing academic cooperation agreements at four institutions, laying the groundwork for future research collaboration, expanding exchange destinations for our students from Asia, and speaking at two international conferences.
Memorandums of Understanding and Academic Agreements for student and faculty exchange, workshops and training, research and double degree program cooperation were signed at France’s Emlyon Business School and Skema Business School, Lithuania’s Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and the University Politehnica of Bucharest in Romania. More will be signed soon with several other universities which were visited on this trip.
The European cooperation mission was a catalyst to re-establish AIT internationally by actively positioning the AIT brand name on the continent and forging high-end transnational exchange agreements. At each university, President Woon laid out his plans for dramatically increasing AIT’s global imprint and injecting across-the-board innovation and entrepreneurship, while promoting our social impact legacy and expertise.
The AIT president found receptive senior-level ears to his new positioning message of “Social Impact with Innovation.” European university leaders expressed collective interest in his offer of direct collaboration in areas of common strength and complementary collaboration in areas where the partner university’s leading-edge innovation or advanced knowledge and technology could enhance AIT’s core strengths in the social impact arena in Asia.
In Glasgow, Scotland, Prof. Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde—home of former AIT President Alastair North—on May 3 welcomed President Woon and affirmed his interest to identify complementary modes of leading-edge cooperation in areas of common interest through a workshop and via the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund. Moving to England, the same held true at visits to the University of Sussex, the world-leading Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and Brunel University London.
In France, at Lyon’s The Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA), President Prof. Eric Maurincomme hosted a lunch and agreed to form a partnership in line with President Woon’s vision. At a private meeting in Paris with Eric Labaye, President of École Polytechnique, the AIT president proposed bespoke student exchanges and experiential learning cooperation. In Tallinn, Estonia, AIT also visited TalTech and the University of Tartu. Both universities expressed a desire to formalize MOU partnerships and Erasmus+ Inter-institute agreements.
On the final leg of the journey, President Woon addressed the 7th Asia-Europe Foundation Rector’s Conference held from May 11-14 in Bucharest, Romania. AIT’s mission and work mirrors the current global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he stressed.This trip will bear fruit for AIT faculty and students in the coming months, and more such promotions of AIT globally will take place, thereby expanding our footprint and brand recognition around the world, he added.