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University challenge: Forging fresh UK-India education bonds

Charanjit Singh
Charanjit Singh

by AMARJIT SINGH INDIA’S love of a higher education in the UK spans centuries. After all, the ties of shared history, culture and language bind us together, making a compelling case for the Indian student to consider Britain as a natural home for their university education. The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi; the first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru; and subsequent prime ministers, including Indira Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh, show the natural progression from university to leadership. If we want proof of business prowess, there is Dorabji Tata, of the Tata Group, and Anil Ambani, chairman of the Reliance Group. We could find global names from the arts. In every education sphere, there are connections. Over the past decade, the perception among Indian students is they are not welcome in Britain. In 2010-11, more than 39,000 students were from India, but in 2016-17, that figure fell to 16,550. What is heartening, however, is that according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), things are picking up. The latest figures (2017-18) show that 19,750 Indians came to the UK to study, about 150 per UK university. At the University of Southampton, we have more than 200 Indian students studying a variety of subjects at various levels. We have now taken that special relationship with India to the next level, with the recently opened India Centre for Growth and Sustainable Development. Our goal, while ambitious, is simple – we want to create a globally recognised think-tank to share innovation and knowledge. Our patrons are global superstars – the former chief justice of the supreme court of India, Dipak Misra, and the former Labour government minister, Professor Lord Patel of Bradford, are no strangers to the university. Now they will advise the centre and enable stronger and fruitful partnerships…

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