UK India Business Council Higher Education Delegation to Hyderabad, New Delhi and Mumbai

By Tara Panjwani

UKIBC took a delegation of 8 UK higher education institutions to India to explore institutional partnerships, industry collaborations and deepen government relations.

The delegation began in Hyderabad, where we were welcomed by Dr Andrew Fleming, British Deputy High Commissioner to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and by Jayesh Ranjan, IT Secretary, Government of Telangana. Here, we held our first Employability Roundtable and heard about the upskilling initiatives being driven by the Telangana Academy of Skills and Knowledge (TASK) and best practices in entrepreneurship and employability embraced by the University of Bristol.

We also formally launched UKIBC’s latest Higher Education Advocacy Report: Futureproofing the UK India Partnership on this platform and shared the key findings with senior representatives from the Government of Telangana. Later that afternoon, we visited the British Council’s library premises to meet with renowned local colleges to understand their student services and the kinds of partnerships they are keen to forge with UK universities.  The evening culminated with a high-profile reception at the British Deputy High Commissioner’s residence which was attended by major corporates, government officials, local universities, higher education bodies as well as key stakeholders in the areas of enterprise and innovation.

The following morning at the University of Hyderabad, UKIBC and our delegates engaged in an insightful roundtable and policy dialogue on the often-neglected issue of University Social Responsibility jointly led by the University of East Anglia and the University of Hyderabad. USR has rightly been identified by the UKIBC as a new strategic priority involving Higher Education Institutions in India and the UK. The delegation discussed the new opportunities for collaboration that adoption of the USR agenda opens up for universities, industries, and governments in India and the UK, the need for a policy framework around USR and how a shared commitment to the USR agenda can significantly enhance the India-UK strategic partnership. As part of the USR activity, some of the delegates paid a visit later that afternoon to ‘WeHub’ – the first-of-its-kind and only State-run platform for Women Entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. The rest of the group went to see T-Hub, India’s pioneering innovation ecosystem based in Hyderabad.

In New Delhi the following day, our delegates attended the FICCI Higher Education summit where some of our group – UAL and UEA – participated as panellists on topics such as Systems Thinking and Nano Enterprises Engagement.  We also held our second employability roundtable at the offices of Khaitan & Co where our delegates from Manchester Metropolitan University presented their unique approach to addressing employability and skills. Moderated by the UKIBC, the discussion focused on the legal framework of the Indian Higher Education system, the societal factors that contributed to the employability crisis, and the importance of training educators and career counsellors to help students develop into well-rounded employable graduates.

For the final day, the UKIBC’s Higher Education delegation visited the Indian School of Management Enterprise (ISME) to learn more about their best practices in addressing employability and skills gaps, how Industry 4.0 is changing the HE landscape and the students’ perspective and experience.  Chaired by the UEA, the audience heard about the best practices followed by Warwick Business School, the need for inclusion of the more underprivileged groups in society as well as from students and employers about hiring processes.

The last stop for the day was at the University of Mumbai’s historic Fort campus where the delegation were warmly welcomed by the Vice Chancellor, the Pro Vice-Chancellor and the Deans of various key faculties to understand the good work being done by the University of Mumbai in the areas of innovation and employability, to discuss the need for greater social responsibility and take forward previous discussions around international collaboration.

With the close of the delegation, it is clear that there is tremendous potential and scope for greater collaboration between industry, academia and government as well as for a more joined-up approach around employability and social responsibility. As part of our commitment to forge deeper links between both countries and ensure prosperity and progress, the UKIBC will continue to work hard to help achieve these bilateral objectives and futureproof the UK India partnership for years to come.

Testimonials from delegates:

“First of all can I just thank you for all your help last week, it really was a very enjoyable visit and I think a very productive one.  It has certainly demonstrated the value of working away from Mumbai and Delhi for me and there are a number of opportunities that I hope we will take forward.  I would certainly be encouraged to take part in future such visits and look forward to hearing what you have planned for the future please”. – Rick Canavan, Manchester Metropolitan University.

“I just wanted to say a huge thanks to you for last week’s delegation. From a personal point of view, it was an extremely instructive learning experience and great to understand more about the Indian HE sector.” – Ishan Cader, Florence Higher Education

“Big thanks to Tara, Sachin and Kadambari – You have made my first trip to India very special as indeed has the rest of the delegation” – Dr Steven Rhoden, Manchester Metropolitan University

Thanks a lot for all your help. Brilliantly organised, productive trip also packed with lots of fun and laughter. UKIBC through Tara, Kadambari and Sachin, not only has facilitated contacts for us in India to collaborate with but also with academics within the UK who we otherwise would not have perhaps met and worked with. So thanks a ton!” – Sravanthi Sashikumar, Manchester Metropolitan University

“It has been a pleasure working with you all this week. A huge thank you to Tara, Kadambari and Sachin for looking after us and organising such a great delegation and meet ups.” – Prof Natalie Brett, University of the Arts London

“Such a pleasure to meet you all and massive thanks to Tara, Sachin and Kadambari for such a fantastic trip – so many exciting things to work on !” – Prof Agnes Nairn, University of Bristol

“Thank you for a brilliant visit – Tara you are a superstar!” – Prof Dan Rycroft, University of East Anglia

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