Visit marks new chapter in Anglo-Indian relations

January 28, 2010

British and Indian universities are said to be ready to "collaborate like never before" following a visit to the UK by an Indian Cabinet minister and university heads.

Kapil Sibal, India's Minister for Human Resource Development, met with Lord Mandelson, the First Secretary, during a recent four-day visit to the UK.

The Indian party included Seyed E. Hasnain, vice-chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, M.K. Surappa, director of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Ropar, and Krishna Ganesh, director of the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune.

A number of agreements formalising partnerships between the two nations' academies were signed, including links between the University of Glasgow and IISER Pune; a University College London-Keele University consortium and Pune; the Glasgow Research Partnership in Engineering and IIT Ropar; and Imperial College London and Ropar.

The party also visited the University of Surrey (the UK lead for the South East-India Partnership Network), Imperial and Edinburgh Napier University.

Mr Sibal said the universities he had visited during his trip were "exceptionally serious" about coming to India.

"The feeling I got was that the UK wants to push forward this relationship in the education sector and UK universities are ready to come to India, perhaps incrementally," he added, describing his discussions with Lord Mandelson as "very fruitful".

"Certainly they want to collaborate with us like never before."

On the memorandums of understanding, Mr Sibal said the agreements "may be twinning, joint degree and, down the road, campuses. It is better to have joint ventures."

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said Mr Sibal had "an ambitious reform agenda to expand and improve Indian education". He is "actively looking for UK institutional partners to develop his concept of 21st-century innovation universities", a BIS spokeswoman added.

A Bill allowing foreign universities to set up campuses and award degrees in India is expected to be passed by the country's Parliament later this year.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com.

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