Sri Lankan Symposium Opening up channels between Sweden and Sri Lanka

18 June 2019 12:10 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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SLU were excited to open up bilateral collaborations with Sri Lankan Universities

 

On June 13th a Sri Lankan symposium took place at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden with the focus on displaying existing collaborations with SLU and Sri Lankan Universities. 


The symposium was visited by the Sri Lankan ambassador to Sweden, Sudantha Ganegamaarachchi. 


SLU is a university which supports an important agenda; to provide necessary knowledge and skills to achieve global sustainable development. With teaching and research activities in the fields of life and environmental sciences, SLU is creating a greener, cleaner and more sustainable world. SLU is world-renowned for its scientific accomplishments, research,

environmental monitoring and assessment. SLU collaborates extensively with relevant sectors, universities, authorities and with organisations around the world. This time SLU welcomed Sri Lanka to promote common interests.


 During the visit, Sri Lankan ambassador and SLU’ Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ylva Hillbur underscored the importance of existing collaborations and the advantages of establishing new contacts between SLU and Sri Lankan Universities. This is the first time that SLU welcomed an ambassador from Sri Lanka and we at SLU were excited to open up bilateral collaborations with Sri Lankan Universities both in research and education areas. 


“Talented international students are highly important in maintaining high quality study at SLU, and the knowledge students obtain at SLU might contribute positively to sustainable development in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. We are keen on strengthening and further exploring opportunities for collaboration with partner universities in Sri Lanka,” said Pro Vice-Chancellor Ylva Hillbur, International Relations at SLU.

 

SLU actively presents a friendly and pleasant work environment for all students and employees, while recognizing the contribution of each individual with respect and diversity


Close to a billion people worldwide are at the risk of starvation. The globally growing population and the extensive use of natural resources is a problem for all of us. At SLU, we want to contribute to solving it, and our commitment to global development issues is considerable. The society needs more SLU students who can face today’s challenges and of the future, both locally and globally. SLU has a vision to double the number of students within a decade.


‘Sri Lanka is keen to build a strong collaboration with Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Such a collaboration would enable Sri Lankan Academia and Researchers to acquire modern technology and knowledge in the field of Agriculture for the economic development of the Country’, said Sri Lankan ambassador, Ganegamaarachchi.


This event was conceptualised and organised by Hasitha Priyashantha, a PhD student at the Department of Molecular Sciences. He is a Sri Lankan who studied in his own country. 
“I am particularly excited as this visit became a success with a lot of potential benefits presented to fellow Sri Lankan future incoming students to SLU. I want to build bridges between Sri Lankan academic institutes and SLU, as well as strengthen and broaden the exiting collaborations. I hope in the future, more researchers at SLU would establish new collaborations with Sri Lanka and I believe that this Symposium opened up for such possibilities. Besides, I am expecting these research links would facilitate for future outgoing exchange students from SLU to Sri Lanka as well. At present as a PhD student and back then, as a master student at SLU, I am impressed with the quality and novelty of research and the education system at SLU. Thus, I want future Sri Lankan students to harness these benefits too,” said Hasitha.


At SLU, we nourish critical thinking, openness and objectivity, and we produce world-class research. We also give our students the possibility to make a big difference in society. Researchers, teachers and students at SLU are occupied with the very basis of our existence - the supply of food, clean water, materials and energy. But their work is also about our relation to animals, as companions or in agriculture, about health and experiencing nature and what we want our cities to look like. SLU’s knowledge and perspectives are of a fundamental importance to regional, national and global development.


“The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences is hoping to intensify its educational cooperation with Sri Lanka. Presently, the university has several initiatives regarding student and teacher mobility, but it also sees huge potential in recruiting more Sri Lankan students to its international Master’s programmes. This is because many of its subjects are of high relevance also to Sri Lankan society” said Geir Löe, Senior International Officer, at the Division of Educational Affairs at SLU.


Globally recognised training 


High-quality training and researching output of the SLU is globally recognized and therefore, SLU is an attractive academic destination for many international student. SLU actively presents a friendly and pleasant work environment for all students and employees, while recognizing the contribution of each individual with respect and diversity. The scientific approach, openness and creativity of the educational programmes available at SLU are unique. The programme is therefore appealing to talented students globally while producing a strong intellectual output. 


“Finding new partners for collaboration is highly important to the success of research and education. This symposium opened up channels for an alliance of goals and ideas between Sweden and Sri Lanka. This can be further used in joined research projects on e.g. food safety or new food product development, or any other areas” said external collaboration specialist in food quality Galia Zamaratskaia.


Vice chairman of University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka, Professor P. S. M. Gunaratne made a presentation about quality of education systems in Sri Lanka. Prof. Gunaratne discussed about university admission procedures and the need of Sri Lankan academics to obtain high-quality training, overseas.  


Researchers from SLU presented various ongoing research projects with Sri Lankan Universities and institutes. Among them, Dr. Juliette Hayer, researcher at the Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics,  who  represented the work done about “One Health” research on biodiversity conservation and emerging infectious diseases in Sri Lanka. The group is led by Associate Professor Åsa Fahlman at the Swedish Biodiversity Centre at SLU, and funded by the Swedish Research Council’s development funding. Associate Professor Monika Johansson, researcher at the Department of Molecular Sciences has long experiences in sending and receiving students to and from Sri Lanka. SLU is having strong ongoing collaborations with University of Peradeniya regarding Animal Food Science research activities and in this symposium, Monika presented her work experiences with the University of Peradeniya. 


“We have received talented students from the University of Peradeniya and I am impressed to observe their progress during and after the studies at SLU. It was a great pleasure to work with Sri Lankan students, said Monika Johansson, Associate professor at the Department of Molecular Sciences.


Professor Erik Bongcam Rudloff, from Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Bioinformatics presented his personal experiences in building bioinformatics capacities in Sri Lanka. He provided some example collaborations with University of Colombo, Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in Sri Lanka. Also, Dr. Håkan Wickström, Researcher at Department of Aquatic Resources shared his experiences and collaborations with University of Ruhuna regarding aquatic research projects. Both Erik and Håkan are enthusiastic about their research collaborations with Sri Lankan counterparts. Cecilia Anderson, Agronomy undergraduate student presented her experiences about exchange studies that she recently completed at the University of Peradeniya.


After the symposium, Pro Vice-Chancellor Ylva Hillbur, International Relations at SLU lead the discussion with Sri Lankan delegates regarding future perspectives of collaborations. The symposium and ambassador’s visit were concluded successfully with a lunch hosted at the faculty club. 


(The writer is a PhD student at SLU, Uppsala, Sweden)

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