Roundtable Event Highlights Collaboration Opportunities between the UK HE Sector and Indian Industry

3 July 2017

​By Richard Grubb, India Policy Officer, UUKi

UK academics had a chance to sit down with a diverse group of influential Indian business leaders on Wednesday 28 June during a roundtable event organised by UUKi in partnership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council

The 17 Indian CEOs were in London as part of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) annual CEO delegation to the UK. Pro-vice-chancellors, academics and other senior staff from UK universities took part in a wide-ranging conversation that highlighted the vast array of potential collaboration opportunities. 

The CII delegation was led by Shobana Kamineni, who recently took up her role as the first female President of the CII in its 122-year history. Ms Kamineni is the Executive Vice-Chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd and represented one of several companies around the table that are shaping the future of India. During the discussion, she made a direct plea to the Indian government to change existing laws that restrict opportunities for international partnerships in higher education.

The event was also attended by H.E Ambassador Mr Dinesh K. Patnaik, Deputy High Commissioner of India, who struck a cautionary note with regard to the UK-India partnership. Despite improvements in research partnerships between the two countries, the number of Indian students coming to the UK to study is declining steeply and Ambassador Patnaik explained the potential that this fall has to negatively affect bilateral relations long into the future. Just like many of the CEO’s around the table, generations of Indian leaders studied in the UK, providing crucial routes into the Indian market for UK business. Ambassador Patnaik warned that this soft power only serves to be diminished if the number of Indian students coming to the UK to study continues to fall.

Meanwhile, UUKi Director, Vivienne Stern, suggested that the political sensitivities between the UK and India can often be overstated. She gave the example of the UK India Research Initiative as just one example of a successful bilateral partnership between the two countries in higher education. The GIAN scheme is another example of a programme that brings the best teaching talent from the UK to India. However, more can be done to encourage the inflows of students from the UK to India and this was one area of agreement around the table. Several suggestions for potential internship programmes were discussed and it is hoped that when this event takes place again next year, concrete steps will have been made to make this a reality.

To read an update on India’s higher education policy, click here.

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