Canadian universities represented by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada signed an agreement with the Association of University Heads of Israel to facilitate, promote and support research collaboration and exchanges of faculty and students between both countries.
“We have talked about how important collaboration is and have seen how a meeting like this could create links,” said Josef Klafter, president of Tel Aviv University, where the signing ceremony took place. “This should be a catalyst for cooperation between Canadian and Israeli universities.”
Daniel Woolf, principal of Queen’s University, and Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary, signed the five-year memorandum of understanding on behalf of the 97 member institutions of AUCC.
A delegation of six Canadian university presidents is currently visiting Israel, co-hosted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. The four other Canadian presidents are from the universities of Simon Fraser, Saskatchewan, Concordia and St. Francis Xavier.
Canada and Israel already collaborate in a range of sectors including energy, solar power, waste management and medicine, and their universities share research interests in a number of key areas, such as brain research, water technology, renewable energy and biotechnology, noted AUCC.
Christine Tausig Ford, AUCC’s vice-president, said that the Canadian presidents “are making real and long-lasting connections on research and education. We have so much in common, including a commitment to educational attainment and research excellence, and lots to build on.”
On their eight-day mission, which ends July 11, the presidents have met with leading researchers and visited several campuses, including Birzeit University, a Palestinian university near Ramallah.
“One of the great things I’ve picked up from this trip,” said Ilene Busch-Vischniac, president of the University of Saskatchewan, “is that Israel has struck a wonderful balance between a culture that supports entrepreneurialism and a culture that supports basic research.”
David Koschitzky, chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, noted that the centre has fostered natural partnerships between Canadian universities and their Israeli counterparts for years, in part by hosting missions of faculty, students and university officials to Israel.
“Just as it is important to fight anti-Israel rhetoric where it manifests itself,” said Mr. Koschitzky, “it is critical that we share with our fellow Canadians the story of Israel as the world’s ‘start-up nation.’ More importantly, we must translate this compelling story into practical, on-the-ground and in-the-lab partnerships between the best minds in Canada and Israel.”