Arba Minch University has recently entered into 5-year strategic cooperation with globally reputed Belgian University – KU Leuven - to promote joint research, educational collaboration and capacity building. The agreement was inked by AMU President, Dr Damtew Darza and KU Leuven Rector, Dr Luc Sels at Arba Minch University’s Main Campus in the presence of officials from both partners.

Reminiscing AMU-Institutional University Cooperation program and its ensuing benefits, Dr Damtew Darza, said, this ongoing historic collaboration has paved the way for forging newer ties with KU Leuven. It will help us to upscale our academic and research endeavors that will build our capacities across the board and I am absolutely optimistic that it’s going to yield amazing results wherein our institution as a whole including staff and students will be the beneficiaries.

KU Leuven Rector, Dr Luc Sels, expressing his feeling towards partnership, said, we already have joint projects and hope it will strengthen our engagement in the whole region that will add to the quality of our own research and learning. He revealed that this pact is very open that might add additional investment by KU Leuven in IT infrastructure and other collaborations for students are also part of this partnership.

He emphasized that challenges are huge here especially when we look at the impact of sediment in lakes and what it does to the quality and quantity of fish; hence, he said, KU Leuven needs good research with true impact; therefore, we need to tie up with AMU; we need joint projects with good equipment, good and strong researchers. And I always say, if people in Belgium want to learn true impact of research, they must come here, and it gave me warm feeling that prompted me to continue collaboration with AMU.

The agreement clause states that both parties shall consult each other whenever they deem it fit to evaluate the progress of teaching and research activities. It further says that both shall promote joint research activities by their respective researchers in jointly identified areas of interest and will also focus on joint applications for research funding from the third parties.

They will set up joint educational activities where joint Master and PhD programmers might be launched. And when appropriate, a separate agreement may be signed on students’ exchange; they will further enhance cooperation in the field of capacity building and facilitate support for the set-up of activities in this context, provided external project funding is available.

Research and Community Service Vice President, Dr Simon Shibru, being ecstatic, said, signing 5-year agreement with KU Leuven is a step forward wherein both partners are about to harness jointly agreed research and educational potential along with fine-tuning capacity building. And it’s just a framework from where person-to-person contact would further shape up this cooperation. Similarly, launching joint Master and PhD programs, where KU Leuven professors can come and teach our students and AMU students can travel to Belgium for short training. They can also help us in having advanced scientific laboratories.

On common grounds, Dr Simon said, it could be environment, agriculture, health, etc. but at this juncture, we haven’t discussed anything in this regard. He adds that capacity building is the cross-cutting issue that encompasses both research and educational components; herein we can access call from KU Leuven, so that AMU staff can travel there for a short training. Therefore, this MoU should be the reference point from where anyone can initiate concept note and write research proposals; that’s how it has to move, he added.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)