Higher Education Delegation to Delhi and Mumbai

By Tara Panjwani

The UK India Business Council are leading a bespoke Higher Education delegation to India for a packed programme of events and meetings centred around the FICCI Summit on the 30th October.

What’s the Delegation all about?

This is about giving our delegates – eight leading UK Higher Education institutions – the opportunity to meet those at the centre of Higher Education in India. From the much anticipated FICCI Higher Education Summit on ‘Universities of the Future’, to bespoke interactions with Ministry of Human Resource and Development, the British Council, think tanks, and major Indian Higher Education institutions, we are confident that this trip will be highly beneficial for all involved.

Following the Summit we will be launching UKIBC’s latest report titled Beyond the Top  200 – Effective International Collaboration for Indian Higher Education at a dedicated reception in Delhi, building on our first HE publication – ‘India’s Higher Education Policy’ – from March 2018. We will subsequently be hosting an exclusive Mumbai roundtable discussion on the future jobs and skills required by companies operating in India, and are excited to be meeting the University of Mumbai’s new Vice-Chancellor, Dr Suhas Pednekar.

UKIBC’s very own Higher Education specialist, Tara Panjwani – who will be keeping us updated on the trip – said:

“I’m thrilled to be taking our first universities’ delegation to India. We have lined up a diverse programme including government engagement, speaking at the prestigious FICCI summit, and the launch of our next thought leadership report. The visit is about exploring partnerships with Indian institutions to facilitate a deeper, long lasting engagement between UK and Indian higher education stakeholders. We hope it will be an extremely productive mission – the first of many to come.”

Keep up-to-date with the delegation’s progress and the launch of our report on this page and through our social media accounts


Day 1

After flying in to Delhi on Monday and a quick briefing, the delegation hit the ground running on their first full day at the FICCI Summit and launch of the UK India Business Council’s latest report.

Dr Rycroft speaks the at the FICCI Summit Global Knowledge session

The 14th annual FICCI Summit was a brilliant event bringing together universities across the world from as far afield as Singapore, Zimbabwe, and the UK to discuss ‘Universities of the Future’. It included sessions covering topics from mental health to the potential role of blockchain in University governance.

UKIBC Delegates Professor Vincent Emery, Senior Vice President of the University of Surrey, and Dr Daniel Rycroft, Chair of the India Dialogue at the University of East Anglia, both made pertinent contributions to the debate.

Speaking at the innovation session, Professor Emery made the salient point that:

 “Transition to University 4.0 requires a major step change in our thinking, strong leadership, a dynamic, fast moving approach and a deep connection with businesses and their needs.”

At the Global Knowledge session Dr Rycroft summed up by saying that

“universities have a key role to play in promoting world citizenship and global responsibility. World citizenship can help fulfil the needs of Indian society and therefore these two pillars (of world citizenship and global responsibility) should become the priority for international universities when engaging with India. Thus, there should be a university level commitment to this.

The concept of world citizenship is that of a human consciousness, a world mind, a sensitivity to the needs of others in the community, and an understanding of a shared future. In pursuing international collaboration, one must also appreciate Indian heritage and values and build upon those for the future to create a connected and interdependent society and university. This is the vehicle to bring about international democracy.

Looking ahead, Universities have to be the harbingers of sustainable peace, and of the moral and intellectual solidarity of the people of India. International democracy becomes the means and end to higher education. Students become global citizens.”

It was heart-warming to see our delegates making such well-reasoned yet passionate calls for meaningful international partnership between higher education institutions – that is what this summit, and indeed, delegation is all about.

UKIBC Managing Director, Dickie McCallum happy to launch the report

This set the scene fantastically for the launch of UKIBC’s latest report ‘Beyond the Top 200’ at a dedicated reception following the Summit. Making the case for effective international collaboration in Indian Higher Education, you can read the blog on the importance of this report and the full report itself here.

The reception was a fabulous success. With over 50 distinguished attendees it gave delegates the chance to network with leading representatives from Indian Higher Education, business, and think-tanks.

Tomorrow the Delegation is very much looking forward to meeting with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) where we will present our report to the Government of India prior to getting the most out of the final day of the FICCI Summit.


Day 2

Following last night’s reception, this morning we had the absolute pleasure of meeting with the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s (MHRD) Department of Higher Education Joint Secretary.

In the meeting the Delegation officially presented the Government of India with our ‘Beyond the Top 200’ report – a milestone for UKIBC’s work in advancing Higher Education between our two countries.

Meeting with the MHRD Joint Secretary

The Government of India is currently in the midst of drafting its new Higher Education policy. In this context, we hope that this report, alongside our previous publication – ‘India’s Education Policy’ – published earlier this year, makes the constructive case for excellence, equal access, and employability as the sector rapidly expands.

As our Delegation shows, UK institutions with world-class facilities, courses, and specialisms are willing and ready to take their collaboration with Indian counterparts to the next level and deliver the best for Indian students.

Coming away from that meeting delegates felt confident and positive about the Indian Higher education environment and their alignment with the Indian Higher Education Institutes. The discussions with the Joint Secretary were constructive and initiatives such as SPARC and GIAN would go a long way in strongly cementing UK India Higher Education Relations in the future.

Only the second day in and so much has already been achieved! Following the meeting, we returned to the final day of the FICCI Higher Education Summit.

The speeches today were extremely positive, echoing the ambitions of our report and Delegation. Again, and again the need for technology, global cooperation, and building business partnerships with education were brought up by speaker after speaker working at the heart of the sector.

Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman of the All India Council for Technical Education, made the pertinent point that all colleges and Universities in India should be granted equal autonomy – reflecting recommendations made in both our HE reports.

Coming away from the Summit, it is clear our Delegation and report have been well timed. This trip is capturing a willingness in India to take Higher Education to the next level.
What a fantastic day on which to end our time in Delhi – tonight we fly to Mumbai for some extremely promising events interacting with Indian Students’ and businesses before meeting the new Vice Chancellor of the University of Mumbai…


Day 3

UKIBC Roundtable

Now in Mumbai, we have had a packed day starting with a UKIBC Roundtable at the British Council in Mumbai on ‘The Future of Work – Delivering Graduates that Businesses Need’.

This roundtable was all about employability – one of the four pillars of excellence crucial to unlocking the potential of Indian Higher Education. As our latest report highlights, British Council research suggests that up to 75% of graduates from Indian universities are not currently considered ‘employable’ by employers themselves.

This was echoed by business leaders in the room. It was felt that progress had been made in getting the number of graduates they needed, but not the quality of graduates they needed. In many cases graduates just didn’t have the skills to hit the ground running and required a lot of further training.

Participants felt three questions needed to be addressed to ensure truly employable graduates:

  1. How can we identify what skills the future of work will require?
  2. How can these needs be sustainably relayed through the education system?
  3. How can higher education institutions and businesses work together to address these gaps between current skills and future needs?
The Future of Work

Our Delegates also felt that their own UK institutions had the responsibility of supporting their Students seeking jobs in India – this was not just up to Indian Institutions and graduates themselves.

Following the roundtable, we had an absolutely brilliant session with the Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI) and the India School of Management and Engineering (ISME) in Lower Parel.

These are leading institutions in India, and our visit included an extensive tour of their cutting- edge facilities and meeting their top faculty – the majority of whom were women. What really struck us was learning about their core ethos which blends traditional Indian capabilities with international expertise with a focus on sustainability and Innovation and a very deep industry Academia Connect.

This is such an inspiring model for Indian institutions looking at the future of international collaboration in Indian Higher Education.

Delegates meet ISME and ISDI Students

After the tour we had a highly insightful and thought-provoking discussion with ISDI and ISME students who voiced their appreciation of the UK and UK higher Education system, as well as their perceptions and the career objectives collaboration has opened to them.

Delegates become thoroughly immersed. They both asked questions and addressed perceptions whilst simultaneously learning more about the Indian way of thinking and what drives the modern Indian student.

Face-to-face interactions like these are incredibly valuable in strengthening the ties and understanding necessary to successful shape future collaboration. All in all, it was an extremely useful interaction for both our delegates and the students – we learned a lot!


Day 4

The final day of our delegation ended on an excellent note. We were warmly received at Mumbai University for a very positive discussion with their new Vice Chancellor, Dr Suhas Pednekar, and several Deans from faculties spanning the Humanities, Sciences, Law, and Management.

Meeting the Vice Chancellor of Mumbai University

There was a strong appetite on both sides to explore new collaborations to address common issues from connecting academia and industry to the mutual recognition of qualifications as well as sharing expertise to develop bespoke courses for students. Much like during yesterday’s roundtable, the focus kept coming back to employability and skills – high on the agenda of Higher Education institutions in both India and the UK.

Our meeting was followed by a history tour of Mumbai University’s stunning campus conducted by India’s leading urban historian, Professor Mariam Dossal, and Rajiv Mishra, Principal of the renowned JJ College of Architecture.

We are indebted to both Professor Dossal, Rajiv Mishra, and Prof Manjiri Kamat, Associate Dean of Humanities, who made this entire day possible – thank you!

This Delegation has exceeded our expectations and given all of us new relationships, ideas, and drive to take back to the UK. Though we now have to fly back, there is a strong feeling that our work doesn’t just end here…

Delegates with Professor Dossal, and Rajiv Mishra


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