The United Kingdom’s immigration policy and India’s higher education policy have been found to be the top barriers toward establishing deeper UK-India HE collaboration, a UKIBC study has found.
A report published by the UK-India Business Council (UKIBC) titled Higher Education Collaboration: Future-proofing the UK India Partnership has looked at the benefits that UK Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) gain from India and the barriers that are currently in the way of deeper collaboration.
The report draws from an initial survey of 67 higher education institutions across the UK.
The survey revealed that the joint top barriers were India’s HE Policy (24%) and UK Immigration Policy (24%). Beyond that Market Barriers (12%), Indian Bureaucracy (9%), Economic barriers (8%), Mutual Recognition (5%), Internal Uni Barriers (5%) and Institution Biases (4%) were reported as limiting access.
UK universities responding to the survey felt strongly that Government Policy needs reform in the UK as well as India as immigration policies and mutual recognition were the common issues cited.
UK PSW relaunch a critical development in UK-India collaboration
One key issue that arose in the survey was the need for the UK to reinstate the two-year post-study work visa (PSW) period. In September this year, Global Education Times (GET News) reported that the UK post-study work visa was to be relaunched.
Speaking to Global Education Times, Tara Panjwani, Associate Director (Higher Education) at UKIBC, said:
“The UKIBC has consistently advocated for the reinstatement of the PSW to 2 years through events and submissions to the UK Government and are delighted that our efforts have contributed to the reintroduction.
“Not only will it increase the competitiveness of the UK’s education offer on the world-stage, but it will encourage many more of the best Indian students to come to UK universities, enabling them to obtain a world-class education and thus improving their job prospects.
“In addition, Indian businesses consistently highlight the need for improved access to working visas for Indian nationals – including students – as a key barrier to UK-India trade and investment.”
Mutual Recognition Agreement ‘most important reform priority’
As well as looking at barriers, the study also considered what priorities UK universities had. The top three issues cited were: more student recruitment, greater research collaborations, and cementing institutional partnerships.
Beyond these, one common thread that came out of the survey was that most of the universities are indeed for a Mutual Recognition Agreement.
Mutual recognition would directly support two of the three aforementioned priorities for universities: student recruitment and institutional partnerships. It would also indirectly support the third – greater research collaborations – by opening more doors.
Panjwani added: “Our report found that the single most important reform priority for universities is a UK-India Mutual Recognition Agreement.
“This would directly support student recruitment and institutional partnerships – two priority areas for universities and business schools – and indirectly support a third – greater research collaborations.
“Building mutually effective higher education collaboration between the UK and India is one of the most important steps that can be taken by both Governments to future proof the UK-India partnership as it will improve the skills-base, investment and trade flows, and generate more jobs and prosperity in both countries.”
India’s Draft New Education Policy features significantly the notion of mutual recognition of qualifications. The Policy also cites greater research collaborations and more high-quality international partnerships as its key focus areas.
The survey directly asked respondents which aspect of UK and Indian educations policy reform is most important, to which almost 70% of all UK universities and business schools stated that a mutual recognition agreement should be a priority for both Governments during their bilateral dialogues.
Hari is the Managing Editor of Global Education Times. Hari has clocked nearly a decade working as a communications professional with a focus on the education sector. He has also had stints in journalism and advertising in a career which has seen him live, study, and work, in three countries.
You can reach him at: email@example.com