East is east: university partnerships work all ways

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The Korea Times this week reported on an initiative by the country’s new Uzbek Ambassador to encourage Korean universities to open branch campuses in Uzbekistan. This is an interesting initiative, both in that it’s being initiated by Uzbekistan – not known for its openness to the world – and as a demonstration that university partnerships don’t always go from west to east or north to south. Article below is (c) Korea Times, 10.01.14.

New Uzbek envoy invites Korean universities

Uzbek Ambassador Alisher Kurmanov, left, talks with Park Moo-jong, president of The Korea Times, during his courtesy visit at the latter’s office in Seoul, Friday. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

By Kang Hyun-kyung 

A new Uzbekistan ambassador to Korea said Friday that he is talking with several Korean universities heads to encourage them to open up a branch campus in his country.

“My government is now placing a special focus on the information technology sector,” Ambassador Alisher Kurmanov said during a courtesy visit to Park Moo-jong, president and publisher of The Korea Times.

“One of my first tasks will be opening up a branch of one of the Korean universities in Uzbekistan. For us, knowledge is important. Currently, six foreign universities are operating in Uzbekistan and one of them is from Singapore, of which I moved the campus project forward when I served as ambassador to that country.”

Korea is Kurmanov’s second foreign posting as ambassador. He opened up the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Singapore in 2007.

The new ambassador is optimistic about Korea-Uzbekistan relations under the Park Geun-hye government, predicting they will continue to grow deeper and closer.

Kurmanov expressed hope that President Park will visit his country this year.

“Our Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov, who visited Korea in December, passed the invitation on to President Park on behalf of our leader. And President Park promised to try to visit Uzbekistan,” he said.

He said lots of activities are going on between the two countries.

“Now we have deputy minister of the IT industry who is a Korean. He is overseeing the whole government initiative. We also have a vice rector of our IT university in Uzbekistan. He is from Korea and was sent to our country,” he said.

Kurmanov replaced Vitaliy Fen, who had worked in Seoul for 18 years.

President Park encouraged the new envoy to play a significant role in promoting Uzbek culture in Korea to help Koreans have a better understanding of the country.

 

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