Israel-Oz academic exchange

AUSTRALIA and Israel have formally agreed to an academic cooperation and exchange involving researchers, academic staff and students.

The Australian component of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in Canberra last week by Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson in the presence of Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem.

Universities Australia represents Australia’s 39 universities both nationally and internationally.

The event was hosted at the Australian National University by its vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young, with Nobel Prize winners Professor Dan Shechtman (Chemistry, 2011) and Professor Brian Schmidt (ANU Professor of Astrophysics, joint Nobel Prize winner in Physics, 2011) also in attendance.

The MOU had already been signed by the chair of the Association of University Heads (VERA) Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson in Israel.

The umbrella agreement between the roof bodies of the universities in both countries will enable their member institutions to negotiate their own bilateral agreements and facilitate scholarly exchange and cooperation.

“It is a very important agreement,” Robinson said. “I see this as the start of an enduring, long-lasting and long-lived link between Australia and Israel. I am confident that the number of linkages will grow. We are committed to growing that level of engagement.”

“It is an important milestone and is fulfilling personally as well as professionally,” said Rotem, whose son is an ANU student. “This represents a convergence – it seems the embodiment of a sense of passionate energy which sees our two nations represent the global academic community.”

After the signing, the two Nobel laureates took part in a forum about their scientific journeys with first year ANU students.

The hallmarks of a good scientist, Shechtman told the students, were professionalism, a good eye for difference, and tenacity: “If something is different, grab onto it and don’t let go,” he said.

SYLVIA DEUTSCH

Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem