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Indian students celebrated in new UK showcase

Exceptional Indian students who studied in the UK will be recognised in a new showcase to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Indian independence.  

Virendra Sharma MP speaking at the launch of the UK India Achievers Program. Photo: The PIE News

The initiative comes as final negotiations between the UK and India take place to agree the terms of a new trade deal

The National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK has partnered with the British Council in India to recognise 75 Indian alumni from UK institutions who have made a significant contribution to society and their professions.  

Nominations for the UK India Achievers Program opened on October 12, following a curtain-raiser event at the House of Lords in London that was attended by representatives from bodies supporting the campaign including Universities UK International, the Department for International Trade, UKCISA, and ETS TOEFL. 

“I worry that we take for granted these huge benefits that international students bring to us as a country”

Former universities minister Jo Johnson said the campaign was “incredibly timely” to celebrate “the contributions that international students make to our communities, to our universities and to our country”.

“Their impact can be felt in towns and cities across the UK, big and small,” Johnson said. “And we must remember that, now more than ever, because sometimes I worry that we take for granted these huge benefits that international students bring to us as a country.” 

Last week, UK home secretary Suella Braverman was accused of harming the country’s education sector following comments about the need to decrease the number of incoming international students. 

Speaking at the curtain-raiser event, Vivienne Stern, CEO of Universities UK, said that campaigns like this are “particularly important now” as “the wind has changed” on government attitudes to student mobility. 

“We’re going to have to make the case anew that this is something that benefits both the UK and India,” Stern said. “That this is fundamental to the ties that bind our nation together, to the interest that we share, and, actually, to the way that we can work alongside each other to pursue bigger global objectives.

“You’re going to help us by giving us stories,” Stern, who is on the judging panel for the program, told NISAU. 

The initiative comes as final negotiations between the UK and India take place to agree the terms of a new trade deal, in which higher education is expected to feature. But reports in The Times newspaper yesterday suggested that talks may have been soured by comments from Braverman about Indian migrants. 

Minister for exports Marcus Fysh said, “The UK’s higher education system has a proud reputation and is one of our most valuable exports. Our International Education Strategy commits to sustainably growing education exports to £35 billion by 2030, with India as one of the five priority markets.

“The launch of today’s event is a strong reminder of the long history of international exchange between our two countries, building bridges with the power of education and creating the next generation of high achieving individuals.”

Nominations can be made via the showcase website and will close on November 10. The 75 chosen alumni will be announced at a gala ceremony in New Delhi in December, and events will take place throughout next year to share the winners’ stories. 

UK higher education institutions are invited to support the initiative by nominating alumni and sharing the campaign. 

The awards also mark the 10th anniversary of NISAU, which was formed to connect and support Indian students in the UK. Over 84,000 Indian students were studying at UK higher education institutions in 2020/21, according to HESA data. 

“I think we will have Indian students overtaking the Chinese and becoming number one international students here in the UK very soon,” predicted Karan Bilimoria, a peer in the House of Lords and NISAU patron.

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