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Look beyond recruitment in India, UK unis told

UK higher education needs to look beyond international student recruitment when engaging with Indian counterparts, stakeholders have reiterated.
November 24 2023
2 Min Read

UK higher education needs to look beyond international student recruitment when engaging with Indian counterparts and ensure cooperation is equitable, stakeholders have reiterated.

Speaking at a QS report launch event in the House of Lords, founding VC at OP P Jindal Global University, C. Raj Kumar, challenged university representatives to rethink their engagement with the South Asian country.

Kumar suggested that each university should introduce immersion trips for 500-1,000 UK students to travel to India annually, allow Indian faculty to teach short-term at UK institutions, create more joint conferences both in the UK and in India and introduce more courses on the study of India.

Additionally, they should engage with industry to create internship opportunities for both Indian and UK students, he said.

He warned that the UK risks losing out to competitor countries such as Australia, as well as South Korean, Taiwan, Malaysian, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are all looking to recalibrate their higher education partnership with India.

“The Australian High Commission of India is busy hosting Australian vice chancellors for dinners [every week]… This is happening in a big way.

“It is not just about the right thing to do, but it’s particularly important for British universities to change and reimagine this relationship,” Kumar noted.

One attendee representing the Indian High Commission in London noted that until now student mobility traffic between the countries has been “one way”, and study abroad opportunities have been limited to the privileged.

Access was a common theme mentioned in the discussion at the event.

Dean, Strategic and International Initiatives at OP Jindal Global University and former Indian Ambassador to France, Mohan Kumar, emphasised that both cost and equity is important.

“India is the craziest country where people will sell homes to educate their children abroad. I did that and I’m not an exception at all,” he said.

“There’s a huge scope of partnerships beyond Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai”

Other speakers also highlighted that UK institutions are looking to create more research opportunities.

Researchers from Durham for example have produced work on landslides, which was highlighted given the recent tunnel collapse in the northern state of Uttarakhand. After a recent trip to the country, the University of Surrey is looking in to more partnerships around collaborative PhDs and establishing centre-to-centre research links with Indian partners.

QS executive director for Africa, Middle East & South Asia, Ashwin Fernandes, noted that the researchers working on the Samudrayaan expedition to the ocean bed in the central Indian Ocean are all from tier 2 and 3 cities in India.

“There’s a huge scope of partnerships beyond Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai,” he said. “I think we need to go beyond [the IITs] into the 50,000 colleges in India,” Fernandes continued, emphasising that they require faculty upskilling.

It isn’t just about student movement, it is about also connecting and having an everlasting impact in India.”

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