A high-level delegation of university rectors, led by Hossein Salar Amoli, Deputy Minister for International Scientific Cooperation, will visit Switzerland this week. The delegation will hold formal talks in Bern at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation and also visit universities and universities of applied sciences in Basel, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich. The aim of the delegation’s visit is to explore opportunities to cooperate with Swiss partners.
Following the signing in February 2016 of the ’Roadmap for the enhancement of the bilateral relations between the Swiss Confederation and the Islamic Republic of Iran’ by President Johann Schneider-Ammann, a delegation of Iranian academics is set to visit Switzerland.
During formal talks in Bern, the delegation will meet State Secretary Martina Hirayama, representatives from the conference of rectors swissuniversities, the Swiss National Science Foundation, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and the Federal Office of Public Health. Discussions will cover developments, priorities and internationalisation goals in education and research in Switzerland and Iran.
The Iranian delegates’ main interests are medical research and environmental science, and their primary aim is to identify how much potential there is for cooperating with Swiss partners in these areas using existing national research support mechanisms. The delegation will therefore visit various Swiss universities of applied sciences to talk directly to potential partners.
Furthermore, a workshop on ’psychological health, non-infectious diseases and environmental technologies’ will be held in Winterthur. The workshop will be organised by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) as part of its leading house mandate for South Asia and Iran. The aim here will also be to identify potential for Swiss-Iranian research projects.
Switzerland and Iran enjoy good relations in research, but the scale of cooperation has so far been rather limited. Bilateral cooperation mostly takes the form of direct cooperation between individual researchers and universities.
Several Swiss higher education institutions have signed cooperation agreements with Iranian institutions in recent years. Since 2011, the Swiss National Science Foundation has supported 16 Swiss projects with an Iranian cooperation element. Most of the cooperation takes place in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering, but there were also some cooperation projects in the humanities and social sciences.
Since 1961, 90 Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships have been awarded to young Iranian researchers. Over 600 Iranian students are currently enrolled at a Swiss higher education institution, making Iranians the third largest group of Asian students.