The educational link between the UK and India

The appointment of Rishi Sunak as the UK’s first ever British Asian Prime Minister has understandably generated a lot of publicity in the Indian media. Among his many political accomplishments, however, is his notable track record of fiscal responsibility. With this in mind, I hope that India and the UK will now embark on a period of relative stability, during which we can further build on the long-standing relationship between our countries for shared prosperity, growth and security. A key pathway for achieving these goals and strengthening bilateral ties between is through education and collaboration on research, innovation, and sustainability.

In the face of an increasingly integrated world, a comprehensive global education is perhaps the most reliable pathways through which India and the UK can sustain their historic associations. The students of our countries, with their drive, passion, technical expertise, and yearning for success, must leverage the educational opportunities afforded to them by the UK’s best universities. The United Kingdom, boasting seven of the world’s 50 top universities, has seen an increasing demand for education over the years. With a heritage of producing some of the most well-renowned scholars across the humanities and STEM, the UK education system is globally recognized for its high-quality education.

UK universities ensure that they provide the best quality of education, with regular inspection by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) – an independent body governing the standards and quality checks of higher education in UK. UK higher education applications have to be made through the centralized service of Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

As one pursues their higher education, it is crucial to find the best fit for both the course as well the university, as the comprehensive educational experience arguably moulds the individual as they step back into the professional or scholarly worlds. The UK’s higher education system is built around the concept of the “fit”, with several key considerations. First, there is a wide array of choices with respect to quality courses and institution, with over 80% of the research judged to be world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) as per the findings of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Second, UK courses are shorter, with the large majority of the courses running for 9 months, thereby reducing tuition and accommodation costs and a faster entry into the professional world. Third, language is no barrier, as the medium of education is English. Further, the English language support offered prepares students at language skills required at a global level. Lastly, there are several scholarships offered by universities, private institutions and the government to assist the most deserving candidates to pursue a quality higher education in the UK.

An entry into the UK labour market is also easier than ever, with a more liberal post-study work permit issued to students graduating in 2021 and onwards. The UK’s current political climate has levelled the playing field for international students from outside the EU. On March 2021, the government of UK announced that a Graduate Route will be open for applicants from July 2021. This means that students with valid Tier 4 visas, who are completing their Bachelors or Masters degrees can continue to work or look for work in the UK for a period of two years (3 for PhD holders) on completion of their degrees and on attaining this visa. With a moderate visa fee and a health surcharge, the visa allows students to continue to work in the UK, be a part of a diverse workforce in the UK’s competitive labour market, and make a more enlightened decision on their next steps.

Indians have a strong and familiar base in the UK, given the close cultural and historic ties of the two countries. This has deepened recently with the signing of a MoU between the respective governments of the two countries. The MoU provides Mutual Recognition of Qualifications between India and UK and aims to promote enhanced bilateral exchange of information about educational structure, programs and standards, and increase mobility of students and professionals between the two countries. Following Brexit and more recent geopolitical developments, now more than ever these deep links and the bilateral opportunities which flow from them, both new and existing, are crucial to the UK.

UK companies and universities are looking to increase the breadth and depth of their collaborations with India. The Indian students coming to the UK are ambassadors for India that can provide a spark to support even closer ties. The world today has numerous shared challenges and the Indian government has set strong leadership and a clear vision in looking to address these challenges. This is where the UK can collaborate with Indian partners and industry, and provide Indian graduates with the further skills needed to make a difference to their country and society.

sabhar: the times of india, Nick Jennings{Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University.}