London, Dec 16 (PTI) Student groups in the UK on Wednesday applauded the news of UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal agreeing to set up a taskforce to review the long-standing demand of a mutual recognition of university degrees between India and Britain.
Currently, the UK’s one-year Master’s programme is not recognised in the public sector in India along with certain subject-specific hurdles in fields such as medicine and law.
This has been seen as an impediment to two-way research and development flows between India and the UK, as it proves problematic for students wanting to pursue further studies in each other’s countries.
“Also discussed the mutual recognition of degrees, and an agreement for creation of a taskforce at an official level was reached,” Pokhriyal said in a statement on Twitter soon after his talks with Raab, who is currently in India on a four-day visit for high-level talks to enhance UK-India relations.
“The discussion is the result of Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji's meeting in the UK in year 2018, where he mentioned that education is the bridge for the relations between India and UK,” the Indian minister said.
Reacting to the development, Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International (UUKi) – a representative group for the UK’s leading universities – termed it as “amazing news”.
Bobby Mehta, Director of Global at the University of Portsmouth, described it as a “significant step forward”.
“It will make a big difference for Indian students who study in the UK,” he said.
“This is fantastic news, and we are delighted to finally have this be actioned having continuously campaigned on this for many years,” said Sanam Arora, Chair of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU-UK).
The mutual recognition of degrees is expected to pave the way for a significant increase in the numbers of Indian students taking up degree courses at UK universities, a number already registering a steady growth with a post-study work offer being added on to student visas under the UK’s new post-Brexit points-based immigration system which is now open for applications.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that Indian nationals accounted for 17 per cent of the total 299,023 sponsored study visas granted by the UK Home Office in the year ending March 2020, with the number more than doubling from 2019 to hit a total of 49,844 grants – a continuous rise since 2016.
“Our assessment is that the number of Indian students can double, if not triple, in the near future and movement on the UK Master’s degree is a very positive one which will add to that momentum,” Arora said.
On the UK side, NISAU UK, which supports and campaigns on behalf of Indian students in Britain, has been lobbying the Home Office for a more “student centric” service to back up its post-study offer so that Indian students are able to better access work experience opportunities in the country. PTI AK CPS