In what is pitched as the largest delegation of university leaders to India, senior representatives from 20 UK Universities are engaging with Indian stakeholders to understand the vision and priority areas of the government. They are looking to assess the role the UK and its universities can play to strengthen relationships and identify shared priorities for future collaboration in education and research. This delegation is supported by the UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI).
Speaking to Business Today, Sir Steve Smith, Chair, Universities UK International (UUKI) said: "We are interested in deepening the collaboration in research and education between the two countries." The UKIERI programme has been around since 2006 to foster collaboration in research and education and is the only such programme that UK has with any country. "It is a collaborative programme wherein the UK government and the Indian government put in money to fund activities and is the best example of bottom-up support. It funds collaboration between institutions. Between 2006 and 2017 it led to 1,057 institutional partnerships, 2,000 research publications and 25,000 academic exchanges,'' he said.
He said the aim was to expand the number of UK students coming to Indian institutions. In July last, under UKIERI, a programme called 'Study in India' was approved. It is to initially fund 200 UK students to come to India. "Our aim is to double the number of UK students coming to India by March 2021," said Sir Smith. India is the 20th most popular study destination for UK students, despite representing only 1 percent of all UK students studying abroad with 235 students studying in India. In China there are 585 UK students studying, which represents 2.6 per cent of all UK students studying overseas.
Following the 'Study in India' project, Annie Bell, the communications manager at the UUKI points out "India will shoot up in the list of most popular study destinations for UK students. We think this is very important and see India as an essential partner for the UK and hope to deepen our relationship even further. Student exchange is an important way of doing that." The focus under the UKIERI is to ensure India and UK have a well-educated and trained workforce allowing them to compete in global marketplace. Between 2016 and 2021, the aim is to promote institutional and individual excellence in educational practices, research, and employability.
The focus was also on getting more Indian students to UK. "Since 2016, the number of Indian students coming to UK universities has increased 100 per cent," Sir Smith said.
"In India, we have been interested in the new education policy because some of themes are similar to themes of the British review - the Augar review of the post-18 education in England." The delegates have had meetings in Delhi with representatives from Niti Aayog, the ministry of human resource development, All India Council for Technical Education and the University Grants Commission while in Hyderabad it is to be with the Telangana state education minister, representatives from other southern Indian states, the Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad or RICH in quickspeak, KREA, Amazon among others.