Blair to boost Indian links

September 9, 2005

A multimillion-pound deal to encourage more collaboration between British and Indian universities was due to be signed by Tony Blair and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, this week.

Mr Blair flew to Delhi for talks after a European Union trade summit in China and was due to meet Mr Singh for talks about Anglo-Indian education and economic links on Thursday.

The deal looks set to include measures to encourage more Indian students to study in the UK and more British students to spend time at Indian institutions.

But the prime ministers were also expected to set up a new research fund that would finance collaborative projects between academics or departments in the two countries.

In total, the British Government is expected to commit £10 million to encouraging Anglo-Indian education links, but it is unclear how much of that sum would be dedicated to the research fund or the size of the contribution from the Indian authorities.

It is understood that funds will be allocated for new awards in doctoral and postdoctoral research for Indian and UK academics. There will also be moves to encourage exchanges of senior academics between the two countries.

In an interview with The Times Higher last month, Bill Rammell, Higher Education Minister, said the Government would also seek contributions from the private sector to develop education links.

Although 17,000 Indian students study in Britain each year, only 100 UK students study in India.

Despite continuing pressure on the Home Office to rethink plans to increase visa charges for international students, it is understood that fast-track visas or visa charge concessions for Indian applicants are unlikely to be part of the deal.

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