UK woos Indian students, promises more cooperation

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Hit by a drop in Indian students in its universities due to stricter visa regime, the United Kingdom tried to reverse the unwelcoming image of Britain. Greg Clark, Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, The UK, who is leading a delegation to India, announced that the British Government had initiated a programme, under which 25000 young people would be sent to India to study in the next five years. “The first batch of students will reach Indian shores next summer”, he said here at the 10th FICCI Higher Education Summit 2014 on the theme ‘Higher Education Vision 2030: Making it Happen’.

Later at the Sixth India-UK Education Forum Smriti Irani, the Union Minister of Human Resource Development, and Clark, co-chaired the meeting. Both the countries discussed the existing bilateral cooperation initiatives in education and also agreed to further strengthen it by taking up several new initiatives. Both sides also acknowledged the cooperation mechanism through joint UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).

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It was also decided to constitute a Joint Working Group consisting of officers from both sides to deliberate and work on modalities of future collaborations in education. The JWG will meet frequently and the first meeting will be held by December 2014.

Both sides also discussed the Chevening Scholarships for Indian students; two-way student mobility; Generation UK-India programme which will support up to 25,000 young people from the UK to come to India over the next 5 years and initiatives supported by DFID. The UK delegation confirmed that they will put in four times more resources for the Chevening scholarships for Indian students and make it the largest Chevening Programme in the world.

The Indian delegation emphasized that, along with students from UK, they would also like to welcome teachers and faculty members under its new programme, Global Initiative for Academics Network (GIAN), the response to which was extremely positive from the Minister leading the UK delegation.

After taking over of the present Government, the issue of equivalence of India’s 10+2 qualifications with “A” level qualification of UK was taken up at very high levels. UK side has acted promptly on it and it was conveyed today in the Forum meeting that most of the UK institutions recognize the 10+2 qualifications for admission of Indian students into the higher educational institutions in UK. The UK delegation also welcomed more Indian students in the British Universities and also assured of addressing the barriers in student mobility.

A Joint Statement was also signed by both the Ministers highlighting the educational cooperation between India and the United Kingdom and the future areas of collaboration. The areas of leadership development; research, innovation, technology and knowledge transfer; Skill Development and Entrepreneurship; enhancing people to people links and two-way mobility; quality improvement in education; use of ICT in education; development of MOOCs and e-Library and launch of UKIERI-III in 2016 have been highlighted in the Joint Statement.

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