New Delhi: The higher education academic fraternity in the UK is excited about changes outlined by India in the draft of its New Education Policy (NEP) and is looking forward to positive changes, according to Steve Smith, Chair, Universities UK International (UUKi).
UUKi is a body representing higher education institutions in the United Kingdom.
"It is a good draft. We are excited about changes outlined in the draft to explore its content more and see what shape it takes. We feel positive about some of the proposals and its a good time to identify genuine areas of overlap between the two countries, where our interest coincide, how can we work together and can be parts of these changes," Smith told PTI.
Smith was in Delhi recently as part of a delegation of Vice Chancellors of over 20 universities from the United Kingdom to explore opportunities of mutual interest in the higher education sector with Indian stakeholders, including the government and the institutes.
The visit was part of a higher education-focused bilateral programme — UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) — helmed by the British Council. In 2006, India and UK entered into a long-term bilateral programme, UKIERI, with a focus on higher education.
The UKIERI is a multi-stakeholder programme involving higher education sector stakeholders and institutions from both countries. The British Council is one of the delivery partners of the UKIERI along with UUKi and Association of Colleges.
A new education policy was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party's manifesto ahead of the 2014 general election. The existing NEP was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992.
A panel head by former ISRO Chief K Kasturirangan had submitted the draft of the new National Education Policy to Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank' when he took charge the Ministry. The draft was then put in public domain to seek feedback from various stakeholders and over 2 lakh suggestions have been received by the HRD Ministry about the same.
"What we have liked about the NEP draft is the introduction of flexibility in study options and crucially the formation of a national research body. We followed that process in UK, its very similar to the same thinking going on in UK with formation of UKIERI. We believe that two countries are travelling on the same path when it comes to expanding their research base, we think it (NEP) will offer incredible opportunities," Director North, British Council India, Tom Birtwistle said.
Addressing long-standing demand to boost number of Indian students choosing British universities, the UK government had earlier this week announced a new two-year post-study work visa route for all international students.
The UK ended its two-year post-study work visa offer during Theresa May's term as UK home secretary in 2012, widely seen as responsible for a major drop in student numbers from countries like India.
"The changes in visa policy had been on discussion for long and finally it being announced is a welcome move," Smith said.
Other issue that UK universities are keen to have a positive outcome on is the mutual recognition of Masters degrees by the two countries.
India does not recognise a one-year masters degree which is is given by all British universities, since India has a two-year degree. The norm makes it difficult for Indian students to pursue a doctorate in India after a Masters in the UK.
"The issue has been a subject of bilateral discussions between the two governments. The situation is understood on both sides and we would like it to reach a positive outcome soon," Smith said.