Many Indian students pursue higher education like the doctorate degree, with the desire to study in international universities, especially the UK. This year, the collaborative want seems to be mutual as now UK India Business Council (UKIBC) is pressing India to ease the country’s criteria for foreign collaborations in the education sector.
According to Chief Operations Officer, Kevin McCole, universities in the UK are expressing a keen interest in deepening ties with Indian counterparts as well as companies. In fact, UKIBC will be launching an online domain in March 2019 as a platform where the skill needs of Indian companies can be compared and matched with those provided by UK universities.
UKIBC is pushing India to change its rule of allowing only the top 200 foreign universities to enter the country’s higher education sphere. The council wants the number to go up to 500. McCole has a good reason for this – he says that although a university may hold a low overall ranking, individual courses offered by it can be of the top order. In this way, Indian students may be missing out.
McCole adds that UK universities maintain a welcoming attitude towards Indian students. But not all students can afford an education abroad or are lucky enough to earn a scholarship. Thus, UK universities also want to collaborate with both government-owned and private higher education institutions in the country. This, in the long run, may uplift India’s higher education scenario by synchronizing it even more with global standards of education.
The talk between UKIBC and India has already made some progress with the visit of a UK team to India in October and November last year. This team consisting of delegates from UK Universities sat with various academic bodies and companies in India to discuss the various aspects and ways of bettering higher education in India.
To discuss possible research-oriented collaborations in the future, the team of delegates visited two notable Mumbai institutes – University of Mumbai and Indian School of Design and Innovation.
The team also met a group of industry leaders functioning in sectors like engineering, oil, and natural gas, food and beverages, banking, manufacturing etc to discuss unified research projects.
What McCole and team found out from the interactions is very interesting. McCole says that the Indian companies complained that most of their young employees lacked soft skills. Soft skills like the ability to interact smartly and politely with others, creativity, teamwork, ability to find solutions etc are crucial to the success of business relationships. McCole adds that the educative processes in the UK are designed in a way that candidates develop such soft skills during the course of learning.
Only time can tell whether or not a closer association with foreign universities will sweep a major change in Indian’s higher education sphere. Closer ties between UK Universities and India through UKIBC are in the offing as McCole and team have already met NITI Aayog officials and officials from the HRD Ministry to discuss policies in higher education.