What are your immediate plans as far as promoting Scotland in India is concerned?
India is Scotland's third-largest international market for further and higher education students. The Scottish government is committed to continuing to attract talented people to Scotland to live, work and study. During my recent visit to India, I held a number of educationally-focused meetings and I am taking back the learnings from these to engage in discussions with both education bodies and higher education institutions in Scotland.
How do you think the education system in India works? How different it is from Scotland's?
The Indian education system is large and highly diverse, with over 31,000 institutions and over 14.6 million students. We know that this figure will rise to 34 million by 2020 and that the Indian government has proposed a number of changes to the education system in the country over the next 10 years to create hundreds of new universities and colleges. This, among other things, will offer various opportunities for Scotland and India to develop bilateral university collaboration and to increase Scottish-Indian research and development projects and programmes.
The Scottish government is committed to working with the Indian government and individual institutions to share best practices and to continue to develop approaches to learning that reflect our shared pursuit of development. Collaborative programmes already exist in a wide array of subject areas such as biomedical sciences, computer arts and games development, engineering, financial and business services and fashion, textiles and hospitality. Our focus is, therefore, on areas of common interest and sharing of best practices.
What is the students exchange currently like between Scotland and India?
The Scottish government encourages participation in initiatives that target the mobility and internationalisation of students, staff and researchers. This includes Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships for incoming students, launched in 2009. There are 200 scholarships available annually, of which 50 are offered to Indian students to support their study in Scotland. The Scottish government also funds the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), a key organisation in the promotion of educational links between the two countries. It was established in 2006 and received a programme extension in 2011 which lasts until 2016. UKIERI runs the Study India programme, which offers undergraduate and HND (higher national diploma) students the chance to learn about Indian language, culture and people. As many as 200 students are selected each year to go to either Mumbai or New Delhi. In 2011-12, there were 2,970 Indian students in higher education at Scottish higher education institutions and colleges.
With the new directive from the Indian government that foreign colleges can set up campuses in the country, what are your plans?
Although the directive on foreign campuses is not yet a regulation, once it takes effect the Scottish higher education sector will need to assess the opportunities and take decisions accordingly. Scotland continues to support and proactively source opportunities for Scottish Higher Education Institutions in India, where 90% of our HEIs are now actively engaged in activities like student and faculty exchange, research and professional development courses.
A number of Scottish universities have established collaborative academic and research links with India, like the University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh, University of Strathclyde. Following a visit in December 2012, discussions are under way with regards to an articulation agreement with Manipal University at undergraduate and post-graduate level.
During the past year, 14 Scottish education institutions have been assisted into India…
In October 2009, an MoU was signed between Universities Scotland and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) for promoting collaboration and further internationalisation of our respective higher education sectors, including the exchange of good practice and information. It was a first for Universities Scotland and a first for the AIU within the UK. Our hope is that as the Indian government continues with its ambitious plans for the development of its further and higher education sector, India will continue to look to Scotland as a trusted, long-term academic and research partner-of-choice.