Both governments have agreed a plan to increase cooperation on research along, with an array of initiatives aiming to facilitate the movement of students and professional skilled workers between the two countries.
Ensuring ongoing access to the labour market for Indian graduates of UK universities is part of the comprehensive agreement.
The 2030 Roadmap for India-UK future relations will create “revitalised and dynamic” connections between the two nations and elevate the relationship to a “comprehensive strategic partnership”.
In a joint statement, prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson emphasised a shared commitment to an enhanced partnership in science, education, research and innovation. They also agreed that there is a “promising new era” ahead for UK-India collaboration on key military technologies.
A Migration and Mobility Partnership will facilitate the legal movement of students and professionals, they added.
Short-stay, multiple entry visas will be swiftly issued, according to the detail – “as soon as possible after a valid application is made”.
Expanded promotion of education and exchange opportunities in each country can be expected:
“Participants will promote the take-up of higher education opportunities by nationals of each other’s countries through initiatives such as student fairs, university missions and education expos to raise awareness and understanding of the educational opportunities including scholarship schemes, assistance for internships and the relevant immigration laws and regulations,” states the MoU on mobility.
Universities UK International has welcomed the roadmap as “a further step forward in the already fruitful relationship enjoyed by the two countries in higher education and research collaboration”.
“A new Young Professionals Scheme will authorise 18-30 year-olds to join two-year professional exchanges”
India and the UK will seek to agree mutual recognition of qualifications before the end of 2021 and “support and promote the two-way mobility of a greater number of students, teachers and researchers”.
The UK will promote opportunities for Indian nationals studying in the UK to remain in the country to undertake skilled work via the graduate route.
Following the two-year period for undergraduate and masters graduates and the three-years for PhD holders, those already in employment or have a promise of employment (and meet the requirements in the UK Immigration Rules) may continue to reside in the UK to carry out their professional activity, the document added.
In addition, a new Young Professionals Scheme will authorise 18-30 year-olds to join two-year professional exchanges.
Higher education students will also have the option to carry out work placements or internships lasting up to 12 months in their opposing country.
The mobility partnership also lays a pathway for mobility of researchers, doctoral students and expert scientists, with the commitment from the two countries to facilitate the issuance of visas or residence permits for those wishing to carry out research or university level teaching.
“Those with a promise of employment may continue to reside in the UK to carry out their professional activity”
“The ‘Global Talent’ visa offers excellent opportunities to suitably qualified persons for work and residence without attachment to a sponsor,” the document reads, adding the UK’s Office for Talent will collaborate with bodies in India as well as directly with prospective migrants to promote take-up of the route.
“The migration and mobility partnership reinforces the value of the reciprocal mobility of students, academics, researchers and young professionals to facilitate economic, social and cultural development,” said UUKi director Vivienne Stern.
“It is a welcome framework for the creation of further international exchange opportunities between the UK and India.”
In a statement to The PIE News, executive director & head of education at Sannam S4 Lakshmi Iyer said: “Key elements that have caught the imagination here in India are mutual recognition of qualifications by the end of 2021 which has been a long standing issue and the comprehensive migration and mobility partnership,” she explained.
“The mutuality of the mobility partnership is exciting as it allows 18-30 years old Indian and British nationals to live and work in each other’s countries for up to two years. This has been widely reported in India and will further spur the interest in the UK as a welcoming study destination amongst Indian students.
“The possibilities that this opens up for Indian and UK higher education institutions to forge meaningful collaborations are immense as Covid-19 has accelerated acceptance of new learning ways and we at Sannam S4 expect this to give transnational education a real push.”
Connection between the two nations will “only grow over the next decade as we do more together to tackle the world’s biggest problems and make life better for our people”, UK prime minister Boris Johnson said.
“The UK and India share many fundamental values. The UK is one of the oldest democracies, and India is the world’s largest,” he stated.
“The agreements we have made today mark the beginning of a new era in the UK-India relationship.”
“This has been widely reported in India and will further spur the interest in the UK”
Johnson and Modi also agreed to continue collaboration on the UK India Education and Research Initiative.
Programs like UKIERI and other existing research initiatives have delivered “high impact collaboration”, Stern explained.
“We hope that this shared vision 2030 will ensure that programs like UKIERI continue to prosper and grow,” Stern said.
UUKi’s head of TNE Eduardo Ramos noted that the commitment to the mutual recognition of qualifications by the end of 2021 could be a “significant step” towards the development of dual and joint degrees and twinning agreements between higher education institutions in the two countries.