A visiting academic has called for closer ties across international boundaries. Professor Hans van Ginkel, a rector of the United Nations University, told a two-day workshop at Hong Kong Baptist University (BU) the time had come for international collaboration among universities. 'It's an essential element in the university structure and programme,' he said. 'Without international co-operation, the highest levels of academic education and research cannot be delivered. It is for that reason that many outstanding universities have created a variety of university networks and consortia.' Professor Ginkel believed abundant financial resources and stimulating students and academics to join in international activities were important in fostering international collaboration. Dr Daniel Tse Chi-wai, president of BU, agreed. He said most universities in Hong Kong had embarked on an ambitious international plan for collaborative research and student exchange. The formation of academic consortia at BU was part of that process. Dr Tse told Campus Post that BU would develop two initiatives to promote international collaboration: a virtual research centre; and a student exchange scheme for BU's students to study overseas. The research centre involves Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, Simon Fraser University in Canada and the BU in collaborative research projects. 'Seminars and workshops are good for exchange of information but the opportunity for an international collaborative research project is still limited, so the virtual centre will be good for us to foster international co- operation,' he said. Under the initiative, the participating universities will contribute their own strengths to maximise the advantages for multi-disciplinary projects. BU also plans to send about 20 students to the members' institutions of its international consortia in the student exchange scheme to broaden students' international scope next year. One hundred scholars from around the world took part in the workshop.