In an effort to strengthen academic ties between the UK and Indonesia, the University of Birmingham welcomed a delegation from the University of Darussalam Gontor (UNIDA Gontor) on Friday, 17th March 2023. The delegation was led by Prof Dr KH Hamid Fahmy Zarkasyi, accompanied by Dr Khoirul Umam (Vice Rector for research and networking), Dr KH Anang Rikza Masyhadi (Head of Tazakka Boarding School), Eko Nur Cahyo (Lecturer of UNIDA Gontor, PhD Candidate Coventry University), Muchammad Taufiq Affandi (Lecturer of UNIDA Gontor), and Adi Ibnu Nurrohman (PhD Student, the University of Birmingham, School of Law).

The delegation was welcomed by the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion: Professor Charlotte Hempel, Head of the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Dr Katherine E Brown, Reader in Religion and Global Security, and Dr Ali Reza Bhojani, Teaching Fellow in Islamic Ethics and Theology. The school is known for its excellence in research and teaching.

The discussions revolved around the potential areas of collaboration between the two institutions, including the exchange program for students, staff, and lecturers.

Among the key areas discussed was the proposal to send some of UNIDA Gontor’s lecturers to pursue Master’s and PhD at the University of Birmingham’s School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion. Birmingham also offered leadership training for Gontor’s staff and an online session for Gontor to explain the admission process to prospective applicants.

The City of Birmingham, the youngest major city in Europe, was also highlighted as a vibrant environment for learning. The philosophy department of the University of Birmingham was ranked 1st in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework exercise 2021 based on Grade Point Average (Times Higher Education). The university is known for its emphasis on communication skills, which are essential for presenting abstract concepts and complex arguments in an accessible manner.