Vice-Chancellor and Aung San Suu Kyi hold talks in London | University of Oxford

Vice-Chancellor and Aung San Suu Kyi hold talks in London

Links between Oxford and Burma were strengthened on Saturday when the University's Vice-Chancellor and Aung San Suu Kyi held discussions over a number of projects designed to help 'revitalise' student life in the south-east Asian state.

The event, hosted by the British Council in central London, also saw Professor Andrew Hamilton and Daw Suu address an audience of invited guests on the ways in which Oxford can play its part in rejuvenating higher education in Burma – in particular at the University of Rangoon.

Daw Suu laid down the challenge when she received her honorary degree from Oxford in 2012, and since then talks have been taking place over a series of projects, including a training programme for the leaders of Rangoon University that will help the institution plan its ongoing redevelopment.

Addressing Daw Suu and the invited audience on Saturday, Professor Hamilton said: 'It is an enormous pleasure for me and my colleagues at Oxford to welcome you to London.

'We still have enormously fond memories of the summer before last, when you came to Oxford to receive that honorary degree that you had been waiting so many years for.

'You threw down a challenge to us, and it was a challenge to partner with you and your colleagues in Burma to play a role in the rejuvenation of Burmese universities – the strengthening and the revitalising of academic and student life in Burma.

'This is a challenge that we in Oxford have thought very carefully about over these past months and we are working to explore the most effective ways in which the University can partner with you and your colleagues in Burma to strengthen the critical parts of university life there.'

Professor Hamilton outlined some of the opportunities for collaboration he had discussed with Daw Suu in their private meeting held prior to the speeches.

Those opportunities included the specially designed training programme, which Professor Hamilton said would ensure Burmese academics were learning 'the best strategies and the best practices for university administration'.

He added: 'But of course universities are at their heart places of teaching and research, so I am delighted about the partnership work that is going on between Oxford's Faculty of Law and law professors in Burma.

'We are also very pleased that one of the challenges you gave us two summers ago was to strengthen interaction between Burmese students and Oxford students, and we have a number of Oxford students here today who went on a trip to Burma earlier this year and had a very successful series of meetings with their peers there.

'We are also very keen to find ways of strengthening areas of scholarly interaction. You have just met Professor David Macdonald, head of the Oxford Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, or WildCRU, which has a history of training Burmese conservation professionals and providing scholarship funds to support that. We are very keen for conservation links with Burma to expand and develop.

'Another area of vital importance to Burma, to the region, and to Oxford is that of tropical disease. We have wonderful research centres on the Burmese-Thai border and we are very keen to explore opportunities with universities in Burma to build capacity to improve medical research skills there.'

Daw Suu, Chairman of the Burmese National League for Democracy and a member of the Burmese parliament, said: 'I am here to try to get help for the education projects we are trying to implement in Burma.

'University education for us must start with Rangoon University, for two reasons: first, because at one time this was a famous institution for good teaching – we were the best university in our part of the world and many, many students produced by our university went on to not only be of great credit to our country but also in other parts of the world; and also because Rangoon University could become an example for other universities in Burma.

'To that end, last year after I had been in Oxford I tabled a motion in the legislature to form a committee for the renovation and reinvigoration of Rangoon University. Now we would like practical help.'

Daw Suu, who read PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) at St Hugh's College, Oxford, from 1964 to 1967, added: 'We would like all the different programmes that you are planning to support university education in Burma to be linked so each can strengthen the other and the whole altogether will be greater than the sum of its parts.'