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UK-India links celebrated at awards night

India – UK collaborations saw a new landmark as around 50 schools from India gathered in London to celebrate and strengthen this partnership at a Thought Leadership Award ceremony.

Aseem Vohra, diplomat at the High Commission of India in the UK, addresses attendees. Photo: Ruhi Khan

The lack of scholarships on offer was bemoaned by speakers

The PIE News bagged an award for outstanding work in education news and analysis, while Mukulika Banerjee, director of LSE’s South Asia Centre won for outstanding contribution in research and the University of Edinburgh was recognised as a centre of excellence for social development in India.

“There is a remarkable resurgence of education in India”

Lord Meghnad Desai, an economist and academic, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award.

The event was hosted by Great Place to Study, a global educational research, consultancy and branding firm launched in India  that provides a platform between stakeholders in Indian education sector and their global counterparts, and identifies global opportunities in international education.

“If India’s education system had not been strong then 26% of the World’s top leaders would not have been from India,” said founder Shekhar Bhattacharjee. “We are the first one to raise the curtain and tell the world about India’s growing education sector.”

Salam Khurshid, former Indian minister of external affairs, who studied and taught at Oxford University spoke about how some earlier universities in India were inspired by Oxbridge.

“One big challenge we have is how much should we borrow from eminent universities in Europe and how much should we continue to evolve on our own. There is a remarkable resurgence of education in India and the exclusiveness of experience of Indian education needs to be highlighted.”

“Generations of Indian leaders across all spheres have been students in UK universities, and it is therefore fundamental that we provide an improved institutional framework for collaboration, knowledge and student exchange,” Sanam Arora of National Indian Students and Alumni Union told The PIE News.

Vivian Stern, UUKi director agreed the UK has a strong relationship with India in both education and research.

“I cannot tell you how much interest there is in extending bilateral relationships with India,” she said.

However, while the desire to get more students from India is evident, the hurdles cannot be ignored.

“Lack of scholarships and financial help in the UK and scrapping post-study work visas are impediments to attract the brightest minds from India,” said Mukulika Banerjee who was herself a scholarship student at Oxford.

Aseem Vohra of the High Commission of India confirmed that the Indian government has “raised the students’ concerns on visas, fees and incident with IELTS tests” and was also “working closely with numerous universities, not just Oxbridge and London based, but also those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to foster collaborations”.

Stern agreed that that there is “a definite need for better visa norms for international students” but told The PIE: “universities offer substantial financial assistance but fail to market them well”, though UUKi is working with HEIs to improve that.

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