IIT-Kharagpur has launched a joint PhD programme with Auckland University of New Zealand to strengthen the economic and research ties between the two countries, an official of the institute said on Wednesday.

Admission of students to the joint PhD programme, a first between the two countries, will begin in the autumn of next year.

The programme would initially focus on engineering and later broaden it to include other subjects, the official said.

The research scholars will work under the supervision of academics of both the institutes and would split their time between the two countries, he said.

They will have access to opportunities, both related to research and to their professional growth, in both the institutes, the official said.

A single thesis will be submitted at the end of the PhD which will be examined by both the institutes.

If accepted by both, the research scholar will be awarded testamur bearing the seals of IIT-Kharagpur and the University of Auckland, he said.

A delegation of faculty from the New Zealand varsity had visited IIT-Kharagpur last year.

IIT Kharagpur Director Prof Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya along with Dean of International Relations, Prof Baidurya Bhattacharya had recently visited Auckland to sign the agreement between the two institutes, the official said.

Vice-Chancellor of University of Auckland, Prof Stuart McCutcheon, Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr Caroline Daley and Dean of Engineering, Prof Nic Smith were present on the occasion.

“The scope of collaboration between the two institutes is vast and we will provide all necessary support to take our relationship to greater heights,” Bhattacharya said.

Some of the research areas identified for collaboration are advanced manufacturing, cyber-physical security and advanced materials as well as affordable healthcare and intelligent transportation technologies, he said.

The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s best- ranked varsity with a QS World University Ranking of 83.