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Otago signs MoU with Hokkaido University

Friday, 19 May 2017 6:51pm

Hokkaido-MoU-image
Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Richard Blaikie (left) and Hokkaido University President Toyoharu Nawa sign a memorandum of understanding and a student exchange agreement in Sapporo this week.

Agreements signed this week between the University of Otago and Hokkaido University will cement links that have been growing for years.

In Sapporo on Thursday, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie, and Hokkaido University President, Toyoharu Nawa, signed a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions and a student exchange agreement.

The documents were exchanged in front of Prime Minister Bill English, who has been in Japan to discuss trade and security and other issues of mutual interest.

The agreements with one of Japan’s top universities will encourage research collaboration in any subject area, as well as allow for academic and professional staff exchanges, and up to six student exchanges each semester.

"It is through the personal relationships that will develop with these student exchanges, as well as the sharing of teaching, research, cultural and sporting activities, that the intent of the agreement will be put to true effect."

Professor Blaikie says relationships with Hokkaido have been burgeoning in some disciplines for decades.

“Research and teaching collaborations are active across a number of areas of mutual interest, including geology, earthquake sciences, marine biology and fisheries. That reflects the common characteristics our two island nations share on the Pacific Rim.

“Our two universities share common characteristics of size, age and ambition to promote excellence in all our endeavours.”

The agreement also aims to broaden relationships in other areas of shared strength and interest, including food science, agriculture, environmental sciences, psychology, medicine, business, arts and culture.

Regular student exchanges will allow deeper cultural understanding between the universities, Professor Blaikie says.

“It is through the personal relationships that will develop with these student exchanges, as well as the sharing of teaching, research, cultural and sporting activities, that the intent of the agreement will be put to true effect.”

Hokkaido University, also known as Hokudai, was founded as an agricultural college in 1876. It is now one of the national universities of Japan and has about 18,000 students, spread across two campuses, in Sapporo and Hakodate.

Sapporo is the largest city on the northern island of Hokkaido and has a population of about two million people. The city is well known for its annual snow festival in February and is home to the brewery that makes the internationally recognised Sapporo beer.

While in Sapporo, the Prime Minister also witnessed the signing of the New Zealand-Hokkaido Partnership Agreement.