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Ara | Te Pūkenga delighted to host Indian government officials

Institute on itinerary for first-ever ministry-level visit to Ōtautahi.

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(L-R) Seram Meitei – Minister of State Office, Neeta Bhushan - High Commissioner India, Karen Te Puke - Ara Operations Lead, Amit Sarkar – Ara Senior Academic, Hon Dr Rajkumar Singh – India Minister of State for External Affairs and Education, Deborah Young - Ara Academic Director, Anirudh Raj - Ara Manager, International Market Sector, Mukesh Ghiya, Chancellor for Indian High Commission.

A visit from a delegation headed by the Hon Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Government of India Minister of State for External Affairs and Education was warmly welcomed by Ara leadership this week. 

Accompanying the Minster for an informal session with Operations Lead Karen Te Puke and Academic Director Deborah Young was the Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand, Neeta Bhushan. 

“We feel privileged to host your delegation, as it is a privilege to work with the industrious and hardworking students from India we have here at Ara | Te Pūkenga,” Te Puke said. 

An example of the relationship is the five-year-old academic and cultural exchange programme between Kumaraguru College of Technology (KCT) Coimbatore, India and Ara. Earlier this year, KCT engineering ākonga once again attended a hands-on block course, gaining insights into the automobile engineering industry and learning about latest trends in the field. 

Ara senior academic Amit Sarkar shared his own exchange experience, funded by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, between the two institutes. “I went to India in 2017 to teach advanced software engineering and database courses for three weeks,” he said.  “In addition, I took with me students from various faculties including ICT, broadcasting and engineering who spent a month in Indian institutions gaining valuable social, cultural and academic knowledge. 

Te Puke went on to detail the changes happening in applied learning in Aotearoa with the transition of polytechnics and industry training organisations into Te Pūkenga New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology. She noted that the network had created one of the largest tertiary providers in the world offering on-job and off-job learning alongside a comprehensive range of applied higher education programmes up to Masters-level study.   

Te Puke said she was interested in exploring opportunities to make pathways as straightforward as possible for Indian ākonga to enrol – including seeking to offer practical assistance such as space to help process visa applications during peak enrolment times. 

Minister Singh, who has a background in tertiary education prior to his political career, had questions about processes for measuring equivalent qualifications and said a positive move could be to work towards a memorandum of understanding relating to the recognition of qualifications. 

He also enquired about the drivers behind curriculum frameworks, and mentioned agribusiness, renewable energy, ICT and primary industries as potential areas in which curriculum could be internationalised. 

Dr Singh shared thoughts on building capacity in teacher upskilling and methods of screening students for entry. He also expressed a desire to see the growing relationship between the two countries reflected in terms of art and culture on campuses. 

Te Puke was hopeful of facilitating a further meeting with High Commissioner Bhushan and Te Pūkenga Deputy Chief Executive Andew McSweeney, to explore the opportunities raised. 

The delegation then informally met with a group of ākonga who are studying at Ara from a variety of faculties.

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The delegation with Ara | Te Pūkenga staff and ākonga