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NEP could be “game-changer”, UK delegation in India says

UK higher education leaders and representatives from 22 institutions travelled to India to meet with Indian counterparts, for the first time since the National Education Policy was launched in 2020.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the University of East London and Delhi Sports University was initiated. Photo: Suzanna Tomassi, LinkedIn

The developments within the NEP have opened the door for bilateral exploration of mutual beneficial TNE activity

The trip – led in partnership by the British Council, Universities UK International, the Department for Education and the Department for International Trade – made up what was the largest delegation of UK higher education representatives to visit India.

Welcoming the delegation to India, Manju Singh, joint secretary of the University Grants Commission, said that the focus is on “increasing two-way mobility of students, faculty as well as institutional mobility between India and the UK”.

“We invite the UK higher education institutions to work with Indian counterparts to offer twinning, joint degree, and dual degree programs; as well as explore setting up campuses in GIFT City Gujarat,” he said.

In 2020, the NEP introduced new measures to enhance internationalisation and one aim of the trip was to understand and deliver this new vision of Indian higher education, through championing transnational education and greater bilateral student and faculty mobility.

The trip also drives the UK’s International Education Strategy, which reinforces the target of increasing education exports by 75% to £35 billion a year and sustaining international student numbers at 600,000 by 2030. The delegation highlighted that Indian students and the UK-India education partnership as crucial to these goals.

“It a real game-changer, opening up opportunities for UK universities to develop joint and dual degrees and other forms of TNE partnership with India,” Vivienne Stern, the director of UUKi told The PIE News.

“It is early days, but the policy is a really significant development in the Indian policy landscape,” she continued. The TNE partnership is underdeveloped compared to that between the UK and other important countries, she noted.

“We think there is a real opportunity to grow the number of UK programs on offer to Indian students in India, through partnerships with Indian institutions.

“I really believe that when we look back in five years, we will see 2022 as a moment at which we saw the start of rapid and sustained growth in UK-India TNE partnerships,” she added.

“When we look back in five years, we will see 2022 as the start of rapid and sustained growth in UK-India TNE partnerships”

Beginning in New Delhi and spanning to Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Kolkata, delegates collaborated with the Ministry of Education, UGC, Association of Indian Universities, AICTE and National Assessment and Accreditation Council.

Steve Smith, UK international education champion, noted that conversations were “fruitful” and is “confident that we will see more partnerships as a result”.

“This drives the India-UK 2030 Roadmap ambition to expand our cooperation in teaching, research and innovation, helping us solves some of the most pressing global challenges together,” he told The PIE News.

Anthony Manning, dean for global and lifelong learning at the University of Kent, said that “it is evident that university leaders, employers, politicians and students in both nations are all keen to see closer meaningful connections between the UK and India”.

“The developments within the NEP have opened the door for bilateral exploration of mutual beneficial TNE activity and this was very much welcomed by the visiting UK delegation and the wider sector,” he said.

Manning noted that there is still work to be done, in particular with matters associated with policy detail and taxation implications.

“There are still a number of points of clarification and matters that need to be worked through or jointly lobbied for before UK institutions will have optimal levels of confidence and capacity to engage with TNE in India in significantly higher levels.

“Whilst it is encouraging to see that the volume of Indian students choosing the UK as a study destination has increased sharply since the return of a graduate route visa, it is hoped that ventures such as the Turing Scheme will also encourage a larger volume of UK students to experience India through short or longer term study abroad opportunities,” he said.

The Department for Education has confirmed that India, already the second largest sender of international HE students to the UK, could be among the leading list of countries with which UK universities seek to strike student exchange projects, facilitated by Turing. In 2021-22, the scheme provided funding for 1,088 students to study or work in India.

For Manning, the highlight of the visit was being able to visit a broad range of comprehensive and specialist higher education institutes – of which India has more than 1,400.

“This highlighted the wide spectrum of expertise and innovation which India offers and the wonderful opportunities for collaborative education, research and reciprocal learning,” he said.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the University of East London and Delhi Sports University – one of India’s newest higher education institutions, recently set up to nurture Indian sporting talent – during the visit.

DSU said in a statement that “we aim to rise up to the global standards in terms of sports performance, training and research and we are happy to receive UEL’s guidance in doing so”.

Harish Lokhun, market development manager for India, Universities Wales – Global Wales program, praised the multiple opportunities to engage with state-level governments and universities.

Global Wales is specifically interested to see the development of TNE opportunities for Welsh higher education institutions, particularly through the recent UGC arrangements towards twinning and progression agreements.

“Some of our Welsh HEIs have already expressed an interest in the UGC’s twinning initiative, which is incredibly pleasing to see,” he said.

For Lokhun, the highlight was the announcement of the GIFT City Project that permits foreign institutions to set up overseas via offshore operations and removed from Indian regulations through a wider scope of universities. GIFT is being set up in a Special Economic Zone, where different regulations and repatriation processes would apply, easing the process for the establishment of TNE arrangements.

“It presents an interesting type of TNE and an opportunity for a variety of higher education institutions to invest in the state, particularly since the state government has put in a significant investment fund in its education budget,” said Lokhun.

“It will be exciting to see these developments continue,” he added.

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