Meet the new director of the IU India Gateway

The IU India Gateway, established in 2013 in New Delhi as the first of five IU Global Gateway offices around the world, has a new leader.

Zafeena SureshView print quality image
Zafeena Suresh. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs

Zafeena Suresh has served as head of higher education at the British Council in New Delhi, where she led various nationwide promotional and alumni-engagement campaigns and managed a range of scholarships. She has also served as senior advisor at EducationUSA, New Delhi, where she designed student recruitment activities, conducted workshops for undergraduate and graduate university applications, and managed relationships with numerous U.S. universities. Suresh holds a Ph.D. in sociology and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at colleges across India.

Inside IU recently caught up with Suresh during her whirlwind trip to the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses, where she made connections and built relationships with a variety of faculty and other administrators who will be working closely alongside her in the coming months and years.

Q: Why are you passionate about international education?

A: It's all about giving students opportunities and helping them live their dreams. When we talk about international education, we are talking about accessibility and opportunities for social mobility and intergenerational mobility within society. International education is a platform to experience and learn from geo-diverse classrooms and global cultures, and that will help them succeed in their careers.

Q: Why should IU be engaged in India?

A: India and America are the two largest democracies in the world, and I think that's the reason we work together so closely and why our policies and goals for our respective countries align. Both countries have room to increase academic and research collaborations, knowledge sharing, and student mobility across borders.

It a great time to explore university-to-university collaborations, because the Indian government is converging efforts to raise rankings for Indian higher education institutions globally by increasing quality research outputs, encouraging innovation and fostering internationalization. Further, with half of the Indian population under 25 years of age, providing quality higher education opportunities has been a challenge within the country. The U.S. is still a favored destination for Indian students for traditional STEM programs, and with interest in new courses and careers, there is more that can be done with regard to student recruitment in India.

And lastly, India is an emerging economy with many multinational companies setting up offices and research spaces across the country. As a key player in the global market, IU students benefit from exposure to Indian culture and opportunities to make global connections in college and beyond.

Q: What are your top priorities as director of the IU India Gateway?

A: My priority would be to work toward positioning Indiana University within India and raising visibility for the work IU does as a global university. To achieve this, I will focus on broadening academic and research collaborations within India and sharing grant opportunities and announcements with the IU community.

The other priority areas for my work will be around alumni engagement, international student mobility and student exchange opportunities that will enhance the learning experiences for students across all IU campuses.

Q: How can IU faculty and staff use you as a resource?

A: I want to achieve higher visibility for IU's work in India. It's important to connect with faculty and staff to discuss current engagements and potential activities that can be planned. I am open to discuss ideas and challenges and help build networks within India.

Faculty and staff can also stop by the India Gateway office to explore how the space can be used for workshops, summer programs, study abroad and more. Our office is a home away from home.

Anyone interested in working with our office can contact me at zsuresh@iu.edu.