BRITAIN is keen on welcoming one of India’s most prestigious education institutes to set up an offshore campus in the country, top British government officials said.
The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is a premier university, with a presence in several Indian states and its graduates have gone on to become CEOs of global and multinational companies.
“Certainly, there has been a discussion about IITs setting up their campuses abroad. We have talked to the Indian High Commission in London because we think nothing would symbolise better the genuine two-way nature of the relationship between the two countries than IITs or other top institutions in India deciding to set up campuses in the UK. We are very open to that,” Steve Smith, international education champion of the UK government, said in Delhi.
“I know that quite a lot of UK institutions have talked to IITs about whether that would be a possibility. It’s not going to be happening tomorrow, but I do think that’s the trend for how the relationship will develop,” he added.
Several UK universities are also interested in setting up their branch campuses in India and are waiting for final regulatory framework from the country’s University Grants Commission (UGC) to move formally in this regard, officials said.
Smith last week led what is said to be largest-ever delegation of UK universities and education leaders, on a five-day visit to India. The group held talks on the “internationalisation” of higher education institutions through partnership, dual degrees and furthering research collaborations.
Two IITs have already announced setting up offshore campuses and have signed formal agreements in this regard. IIT Madras will set up its campus in Tanzania’s Zanzibar, while IIT Delhi will establish an offshore campus in Abu Dhabi.
Asked if UK universities were exploring setting up their campuses in India, Smith said, “The simple answer is yes. There is a lot of interest. But, of course, the thing you have to do is to have the regulatory framework sorted, because no governing body anywhere in the world would commit to that unless the regulatory framework was agreed, signed and sealed.
“We have made major strides on getting to that situation in the last two or three years.”
India’s University Grants Commission (UGC) had in January announced draft regulations for foreign universities to set up their campuses in India. However, the final regulations have not been notified yet.
British Council India director Alison Barrett said, “While a lot of the universities are thinking about long-term physical presence, we need to get everything finalised so there are no roadblocks. We are very interested in seeing that happen here and also of course, Indian institutions opening in the UK.
“We are very excited because the future is about genuine twoway partnerships. And thus, branch campuses, physical presences are very attractive to us.” Both officials, however, refused to divulge names of the universities exploring the collaborations in the two areas.
The delegation, coordinated by the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), arrived in India last Sunday (24). It includes representatives from 31 UK higher education institutions and bodies.
The group participated in the India-UK Higher Education Conference organised by the British Council on September 18 and 19 in Delhi. The discussions focused on transnational education and facilitating the expansion of higher education partnerships between the institutions from the two countries.
Talks on opportunities available for two-way student mobility were also due to be held.