Last year, the UK and India signed an Enhanced Trade Partnership projected of doubling bilateral trade to £50 billion by 2030 and in January 2022, the UK and India commenced formal negotiations of a UK-India Free Trade Agreement.
This is a new era of the Indo-British partnership and the potential for the fifth and sixth largest economies in the world to partner and collaborates on every front, including education and research, is limitless.
To demonstrate this, through our India institute, the University of Birmingham works with partners across India to deliver impact in areas such as surgical hygiene, environmental pollution, sustainable cooling and applied sports science.
We currently have over 40 joint research projects and partnerships in India, in critical areas such as women’s cancer, drinking water, air pollution, antimicrobial resistance, clean cooling technology, global surgery; railways, cell biology and autophagy, genomics, sustainable energy, and sports performance.
We are also creating new education initiatives, notably a partnership with the National Rail Training Institute (NRTI), which will lead to Indian students taking a pathway to study at the postgraduate level in Edgbaston, the first such education agreement of this nature linking one of the world’s biggest railway networks, with education delivered through the biggest railways group in Europe.
The Queen’s Award-winning Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education has just created Hydroflex, the world’s first retrofitted hydrogen-powered train, which was up and running at COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.
Our education partnerships with leading private institutions like Amity, Manipal, OP Jindal and Chitkara enable students to study for part of their undergraduate programme with the Indian partner institution before progressing to the University of Birmingham.
Our School of Law has also been awarded a British Council grant to develop a joint module on business, human rights and the environment with Jindal Law School.
As a member of the House of Lords, Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group of International students and President of UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs), I am proud to have played an instrumental role in helping to secure the new graduate visa, which came into effect on January 1, 2021 — enabling Indian students to spend up to two years working in the UK after their studies (three years for PhD students).
The new visa will help attract Indian students to the UK, but what will really motivate them is the opportunity to experience academic life in Britain. With the new visa rules, I am confident that the new number of Indian students hoping to study in British universities will increase by leaps and bounds over the years. Along with American universities, British universities are the finest in the world.
As we ease back into life after the pandemic, we look forward to welcoming students from India — whether on our beautiful UK campus or our iconic new smart campus in Dubai, where Indian students already make up over a quarter of our diverse student community. I have seen the value of education mobility first hand with my grandfather, mother and uncle all studying at the University of Birmingham. This is no one-way street — the flow in both directions of educational experience and collateral creates greater connectivity between nations and cultures.
We are launching new visiting fellows’ scheme that will enable early career researchers to work with our leading academics on areas such as maternal health, Global surgery, sustainable cities and sustainable cool energy.
We are also initiating new women in research fellowships and have extended our Commonwealth scholarships for another year. The £3,000 award is available to all international students from countries participating in the Commonwealth Games 2022, who are seeking to study a taught Master’s degree at Birmingham in the 2022/2023 academic year. Eligible scholars who successfully meet the criteria will have this amount deducted from their total tuition fees owed.
By Lord Karan Bilimoria, the chancellor of the University of Birmingham. It was first published on March 4, 2022.
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