Due to the changing nature of higher education, UK universities are waking up to the huge potential which can be unlocked by working with Indian institutions. These associations, in terms of research, are challenging the one-way India-to-UK recruitment drive that has traditionally characterised the education landscape between the two countries. Education should not be the exclusive privilege of just a few people. Higher education is no longer just for the elites in the UK and British universities are hoping to expand this ethos to India too. As the world becomes smaller, we need to break down the traditional university model and widen participation by creating varied routes into top education. Summer schools, scholarships and study abroad opportunities are just some of the ways in which the UK universities are democratising quality education for Indian students. Since joining King's College London as Vice-Principal (International) just over a year ago, I have seen the benefits that these programmes bring to students, the university's diversity and alumni who include Sarojini Naidu and Khushwant Singh among many other iconic names in Indian history.
Our summer schools in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai are giving students grounding in over 25 subjects for a reduced or zero fee. For each of these programmes, full scholarships are given to the best students enabling them to spend a summer studying in London. We have already awarded 63 such scholarships, since 2012. The advantage of bringing Indian students to London is that it results in a greater awareness among fellow students and staff at King's College. In return, we see our students going out to India on initiatives such as UKIERI's Study India programme (which King's helped establish in its formative years), the British Council's Generation UK-India and the Delhi University Connect to India programme. The knowledge and cultural experience that students from both countries gain within just a few weeks equips them with new perspectives and vigour to bring back to their respective countries. UK and Indian universities are working together in order to offer longer student exchange programmes for those with a taste for discovering the world and the yearning to become global citizens. At King's College, we are seeing an increasing number of students who spend a year at overseas universities as part of their degree programs and in return, we welcome hundreds of students from other countries to London. Government scholarship-initiatives such as the Chevening-Gurukul programme are opening doors for emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds. At King's last year, we hosted nine upcoming Indian Parliamentarians as part of the Chevening Parliamentary Leadership programme. This enabled us to expose India's future leaders to the UK's top decision-makers in government, politics, industry and civil society,
Translating Collaboration to Potential Benefits in the Field of Research
Study-exchanges immerse students in the culture, language and mindset of another country. Consequently, this helps them to become more rounded and employable. In Europe, we are fortunate to have the European Commission's ERASMUS+ programme, an initiative that offers fee-waiver for student exchanges between European universities. There is no reason that we cannot replicate this between individual universities in the UK and India to provide students from our two countries with the same experience. Kings' longstanding partnership with Jawaharlal Nehru University is one such example. Through fee-waivers for JNU students to spend a year at King's, we are giving students the coveted opportunity to study in London while King's students spend time at JNU, returning to us with the highest praise of their experience of a lifetime in India. British and Indian universities can and should work more concertedly together to expand this network of partnerships to create new opportunities for the student community.
Crucially, these partnerships are also transforming into high-impact research collaborations. For instance, King's College partners with JNU on the Rising-Powers project which examines the nature of China and India's strategies in the governance of biomedical innovation. In another association with the Tata Memorial Hospital, we run joint research programmes in breast cancer and imaging alongside joint short courses in oncology for top Indian students. Our world-famous India Institute is helping us bridge the gap between UK and India, thereby steering meaningful research. It is clear that the best research comes as a result of working in tandem with partners. Our international collaborations are one of the key reasons as to why we have climbed all the major world rankings in recent years.
Global challenges cannot be solved by parochial thinking or by small groups; they require bigger collaborations and trans-national partnerships that have proved to be difficult to foster within a less number of institutions. UK academicians are waking up to the idea of answering the largest global questions by enabling the students who are comfortable working side by side with counterparts from Bangalore, Beijing or Boston, instead of focussing on Bristol or Birmingham. The world is changing faster than ever. Developing partnerships between Indian and British institutions offers countless opportunities for the exchange of students, staff and ideas. This is essential in nurturing a culture of preparing students for success across the world by developing high-impact research in order to answer the most pressing questions posed to our society.
Dr Joanna Newman
After completing her PhD at the University of Southampton, she received a Fellowship in American Jewish History at the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati. After holding an academic post at the University College, London and then as the Director of the UK's Higher Education International Unit, she joined King's College as the Vice Principal.