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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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Canadian and Israeli universities sign research deal

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The delegation of university presidents from across Canada at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada of Hebrew University

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) has signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the Association of University Heads of Israel to encourage collaboration in research and to connect faculty and students in both countries.

The agreement was formalized at Tel Aviv University during a tour earlier this month that brought six university heads to Israel. Representatives from the University of Calgary signed the deal on behalf of the AUCC’s 97 member institutions.

“Canada and Israel share a common commitment to educational attainment and research excellence, and are among the best in the world in these important indicators of global leadership,” AUCC vice-president Christine Tausig Ford said in a statement.

“Increased collaboration with universities in Israel will strengthen the research and teaching missions of Canada’s universities and benefit both countries’ economies.”

There are already many collaborative projects between Canadian and Israeli universities, but those have been the result of individuals deciding to work together, said Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which co-hosted the presidents’ tour along with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, the agreement means Israeli universities will be on the top of the list when Canadian university researchers are looking for people who focus on topics complimentary to their own, and vice versa.

Canada isn’t the first country to sign a memorandum of understanding with Israel regarding academic research. In February, Universities Australia – the Aussie equivalent of the AUCC – signed a memorandum of educational co-operation with Israel, and Britain reached an agreement in May regarding science co-operation.

Fogel said the Canada-Israel memorandum is very important in advancing the ties between the two countries. “This particular development represents an important indicator of just how deep the relationship is becoming.”

In a statement, Ford described the tour of Israel as an eye-opening experience, in which the university heads saw the “start-up nation” first hand and learned about the country’s history and culture.

“Canadian university presidents have been deeply impressed by Israel's innovative spirit and its equally deep commitment to basic university research,” she said.

Alan Shepard, president of Concordia University, who went on the trip, echoed her sentiments.

“It’s a thrill to meet so many super-smart researchers and academic leaders. The deep respect for learning and for making significant investments in research is very clear,” he said. 

“In leading Concordia I hope to help build the start-up culture of Montreal and add to our collective prosperity.”

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