Greg Clark, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities has launched a new UK-wide campaign to support 25,000 UK students to go to India over the next five years.
The campaign, ‘Generation UK-India’, aims to create a new generation of more globally, culturally and business aware young people, and will be managed by the British Council. Underlining the UK Government and universities’ ongoing commitment to promoting international opportunities to students across the UK, Generation UK-India will provide opportunities for UK students to either work as teaching assistants in Indian schools, gain work experience at top Indian companies, or go on specially organised cultural immersion courses.
The first Generation UK-India placements will begin in summer 2015.
Speaking at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry HE summit in Delhi, Greg Clark, said “It’s great news that over the next five years up to 25,000 young people will get to experience student and working life India. This programme will help create a more globally competitive UK workforce and will help future proof the UK-India relationship.”
Prof. Furqan Qamar, Secretary General, Association of Indian Universities, said " Student Mobility programmes, such as the newly launched Generation UK- India, support internationalisation agenda of Indian universities aimed at promoting excellence and building deeper understanding of cultures between Indian and UK students."
The British Council is in discussions with businesses such as KPMG and BP who have expressed interest in supporting the scheme.
Lord Bilimoria, Founding Chairman of the UK-India Business Council, and a programme champion of Generation UK-India, commented “The world is getting more integrated, more inter-connected, more interdependent. And in that sort of a world you’ve got to be open minded, world aware, outward looking. Britain has always been a trading nation. Britain has always been an open nation, Britain is one of the most open economies in the world. So we need our students to go out, and experience the world and experience countries like India. That’s going to help our students better themselves, become more competitive and give them the huge advantage in life, which gives Britain a huge advantage.
“For a youngster from the UK to go to India is a transformational experience, it’s an eye opening experience to actually on the ground witness, experience India’s buzz, energy and economy going forward in leaps and bounds with all its challenges is a life changing experience for a young person from Britain” Lord Bilimoria added.
Rob Lynes, Director of the British Council in India, said "Student mobility is a proven means of building long lasting ties between nations, but currently the UK welcomes around 300 Indian students for every British student going to India. That imbalance needs to be addressed. India is poised to be the third largest economy in the world, and we want to give many more young British people the chance to get a better experience of modern India, and the opportunity to gain a more global mindset."
The CBI/Pearson 2014 Education and Skills survey found that almost two thirds (63%) of UK employers were not satisfied with school or college leavers’ international cultural awareness. Simon Moore, the CBI’s International Director, said "The CBI is honoured to support the British Council’s exciting new ‘Generation UK-India’ project which is aimed at building the next generation of British talent through UK-India business partnerships. I hope that our member companies will also get involved in this worthy initiative.”
Anne Marie Graham, Head of the Go International Programme which is managed by the UK Higher Education International Unit commented “Generation UK-India is an invaluable opportunity for UK students to gain experience abroad. The experience of studying, working or volunteering abroad whilst at University enhances the academic achievement of students whilst significantly improving their employment prospects. Despite this, too few UK students are getting the opportunity to go overseas. The UK HE sector is committed to changing this status quo and the Go International Programme is working in partnership with institutions across the UK to support them in their efforts. Initiatives like Generation UK-India open up opportunities for our students and we strongly encourage UK students and institutions to get involved”.
In August 2014, 200 UK students took part in a two-week cultural immersion course in India, organised by the UKIERI Study India programme. Tom Wyke, 22, a History student from Queen Mary University of London, said "This programme really allows you to open the door into India in a very unique manner, something you can’t get by backpacking. It helps you to understand a little bit of the culture and get a feel for why it’s such a diverse and special place."
Sarah Al-Hussaini, 21, an Economics student from the University of Birmingham, said: Coming to India, which is such a booming economy and going to be such a global player in the next 20 or so years is pretty critical to my career and is really going to make me stand out from the crowd.
Zain Ali, 22, a Philosophy student from King’s College, London, said “We’re coming into increasingly a smaller world and it’s more important than ever to show that you’re internationally capable so I think programmes like these are key for our future careers and to show that we can go beyond your average environment in the UK.”