The European Commission has recently announced that it will renew its funding of a cooperation and mobility programme intended to strengthen links between higher education institutions in the EU and South East Asia. The new edition of the Lotus programme ‘Lotus Unlimited’ involves nine universities from the EU and ten from South East Asia (China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand), with the University of Kent being the only UK representative.
Jointly coordinated by Ghent University in Belgium, one of Kent’s strategic partners, and Sichuan University in China, Lotus Unlimited was awarded €3.5 million by the EC and will build on the success of the Lotus I, II and III projects. The programme offers opportunities for both staff and students, with mobility grants available for incoming and outgoing students at Bachelor, Master and Doctoral level, as well as for postdoctoral researchers and staff across a range of disciplines. It is envisaged that such mobility will establish long-lasting relations through study and research experience in the relevant host country.
Kent has been a partner in the Lotus consortium since its formation in 2010. The three on-going projects have been very successful both in terms of research collaboration and student engagement. An example of such engagement can be seen in the experiences of one of Lotus II scholarship holders, Gregorius Wicaksana from Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia (pictured). During his 10 month stay at Kent, Gregorius was selected to represent the University at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research in April 2013. Gregorius hugely appreciated his experience of studying at Kent. He said: ‘The city, University, and professors were so helpful and encouraging; everything combines to produce the most amazing and conducive environment for learning’.
Professor Alex Hughes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Affairs at Kent, welcomed continued cooperation within the Lotus consortium. She said: ‘Lotus Unlimited is an excellent opportunity for us to strengthen links with our partners in South East Asia and to work with our colleagues across Europe’.
Under Lotus III, Kent will welcome seven Lotus scholarships holders in the coming academic year. Mobility under Lotus Unlimited will commence in 2014.
Lotus is an Erasmus Mundus Action Two Partnership (EMA2) of European and South-East Asian Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and Associations aiming at fostering mutual enrichment and better understanding between the EU and South-East Asia (China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand), through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills at higher education level and to co-operate in the following programme activities: Mobility of undergraduate and graduate students; Mobility of PhD students; Post-doc mobility; Academic and administrative staff mobility. Lotus Unlimited, a continuation of Lotus III, was approved by the European Commission in July 2013.