La Trobe University has become the first Australian university to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Afghanistan’s Kabul University.
The agreement, initially for five years, has been six months in preparation. It promotes academic co-operation in teaching, supervision and examination as well as research and staff exchanges of mutual interest.
Australia has an estimated 140 Afghani students on scholarships and a very small number as full fee paying students.
La Trobe caters for the largest number of Afghani AusAID students. Currently about ten are studying at the University. Forty students, 22 of them women, have graduated since 2003 in areas ranging from health sciences, pharmacy and prosthetics to business and international relations.
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Rosenberg, said La Trobe was ‘delighted to commence a relationship with Kabul University’. The agreement has been prepared in three languages: Dari, Pashto and English.
Step towards recovery
‘As the world focused on Afghanistan’s future at the recent meeting in Tokyo, we hope global educational initiatives such as this will be a positive step to help the country on its road to recovery after many decades of warfare,’ Professor Rosenberg said.
Afghanistan’s Ambassador, HE Mr Nasir Andisha, said Kabul University was very enthusiastic about the MOU. It was also pursuing relationships with other countries because it regards education co-operation as the basis for the nation’s future.
He said there were now eight million children in Afghanistan schools, two-and-a half million girls, and opening up more tertiary education opportunities was extremely important.
Afghanistan has increased its scholarship budget to $2 million. India has already offered 1,000 scholarships and Japan another 500.
Professor Rosenberg said many opportunities were open to Afghani students in Australia under programs such as Australia’s AusAID Leadership Awards and Endeavour Awards.
He said the University would do all it could to assist with the complex processes faced by students from Afghanistan when they applied to Australian institutions.