International branch campus ‘top of the wish list’ for India

UK angling to put itself at front of the queue

June 16, 2021
Flags of India and the UK
Source: iStock

A senior higher education official has described the opening of an international branch campus as being on top of India’s “wish list”, with the UK angling to put itself at the front of the queue.

The discussion at the British Council’s Going Global conference came on the heels of the UK-India 2030 Roadmap, which Boris Johnson and prime minister Narendra Modi announced at a virtual meeting in May. “The road map explicitly mentions education,” said Sir Steve Smith, who was appointed last year as the UK government’s first international education champion.

Sir Steve said that he found “enormous similarities in the focus on internationalisation” between India’s National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and the UK’s International Education Strategy, which was updated this year.

“They demonstrate that our countries intend to be outward looking in perspective,” he said. “We already collaborate deeply in teaching and research. With the NEP and International Education Strategy pointing in the same direction, I’m sure there is so much more we can do.”

The NEP opens up two new regulatory pathways for internationalisation: for foreign universities to open in India, and for Indian universities to open overseas.

Manju Singh, joint secretary of the international cell at India’s University Grants Commission, said that “the opening of a foreign university in India is on the top of our wish list. We hope that that will see light of day.”

She said the government was still working on specific regulations, but that foreign collaborations would be facilitated in three main ways: twinning agreements, dual degrees and joint programmes.

She added that global ties had an importance beyond just student recruitment and branch campuses. “Internationalisation has a huge role to play in confronting global challenges like climate change and infectious disease,” she said.

Sir Steve added that the UK was committed to building “deeper government-to-government partnerships, institutional collaborations and people-to-people links. Universities are central to that purpose, as universities are international at their core.” 

India was also one of the five “priority countries” the UK was targeting “to grow sustainably the number of international students coming to the UK to at least 600,000 by 2030”, he said.

Anju Sharma, principal secretary of higher and technical education in Gujarat, said that her state was working on developing dual-degree and joint programmes, in which syllabus development would be shared between Indian and foreign partners.

At the state level, there was much focus on how higher education can boost youth employment. Job creation could be expedited “through start-ups, where students can come up with innovative ideas, employ themselves, and others in return”, she said.

Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary of Telangana, India’s newest state, said that internationalisation could help inspire innovation and start-ups on campuses.  

“We need to do what’s done in innovative countries like the UK and US – catch them when they’re young, and encourage them to do something useful when they’re still at college,” he said.  

For example, his state has launched T-Bridge, a tool that matches up Indian start-ups with international partners who can help with setting up offices or funding in their home countries.

“Internationalisation is important for India’s development and self-reliance,” he concluded. 

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