Britain Calls for Stronger Educational Ties With India

 Britain on Wednesday announced a slew of initiatives for India and reiterated the centrality of education to holistic growth and called for strengthening of India-UK ties.

"The future of science and innovation depends on collaboration and India continues to be a vital science partner for the UK," said British Science Minister Jo Johnson at the launch here of the initiative "Study UK: Discover You" as the new face of British education.

Highlighting the collaboration opportunities in the international education sector, he also announced the launch of a report on "the future of design education in India".

"Through the Newton Fund, we're working together to improve the lives of millions across the world... We are continuing to look at opportunities to expand this partnership to include funding for social science and humanities programmes," the Minister said.

British Council Director Alan Gemmell said: "The partnership between UK and India cuts across all segments of the education sector, therefore there is a need to bring together the best practices from both countries to strengthen this bond."

"As it emerges from the 'future of design education' report, there is an increased demand for designers from India to cater to a large potential market," Gemmell added.

With an aim to reach out to digital natives, the campaign "Study UK: Discover You" channels will reflect the importance of online research and social media in students' decision making.

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British PM Theresa May will not ease visa norms for Indians

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is in New Delhi for a three-day trade meet to attract business to post-Brexit Britain, has rejected India's demands for easier visa norms. May said that the UK already has a "good system" for application with nine out of 10 visa applications from India being accepted. 

India had demanded easier norms for students, businessmen and other short-term travellers. Currently, Indians pay much more than the Chinese for short-term visas and India wanted visa costs to come down as well.  

However, she said that wealthy Indian business executives will be offered access to the Great Club — a bespoke visa and immigration service — also a brainchild of May. The offer will be extended to a small group of individuals with high net worth and their families, BBC reported. 

Indians with work visas will be able to join the Registered Travellers Scheme — another scheme to ease border controls. 

"As we leave the EU, we want to ensure that the UK remains one of the most attractive countries in the world to do business and invest," May said.

Since Indian students are not allowed to stay in the UK beyond a few months after completing their education, not many choose to go the European country any more. 

Currently, India's economy is three times that of the UK and India is at a greater bargaining position. And, some of the arguments made during Brexit campaigning by Conservatives and Ukip had been about opening doors to countries like India that have fast growth than a European country like Bulgaria.

"We need to immediately get the government, Theresa May, on this visit to announce and say 'we're no longer going to include international students within the net migration figures,'" crossbencher Lord Bilimoria told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend. "The reality is Theresa May when she was home secretary did deliver very, very negative messages towards immigration...She has got a lot of bridge-building to do when she goes to India."

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