Student groups in the UK are celebrating the news that UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Indian Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal have agreed to set up a taskforce to review a long-standing demand of the mutual recognition of academic qualifications and university degrees between India and Britain.
Currently, the UK’s one-year Master’s programme is not recognised in the public sector in India along with certain subject-specific hurdles in fields such as medicine and law. This has proved problematic for global talent flows and research collaborations between the countries. The taskforce is set to fix that gap and is the outcome of Raab’s visit to India this week, as a precursor to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit in the New Year as the Chief Guest at the Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2021.
“The Foreign Secretary also met Minister for Education Ramesh Pokhriyal and agreed to work together on mutual recognition of academic qualifications, starting with Master’s degrees, over the next year,” the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said in a statement.
Reacting to the development, Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International (UUKi) – a representative group for the UK’s leading universities – termed it as “amazing news”.
Bobby Mehta, Director of Global at the University of Portsmouth, described it as a “significant step forward”.
“It will make a big difference for Indian students who study in the UK,” he said.
Sanam Arora, Chair of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU-UK), which has been campaigning on the issue for some time now, said: “This is fantastic news, and we are delighted to finally have this be actioned having continuously campaigned on this for many years.”
Boost in numbers
The mutual recognition of degrees is expected to pave the way for a significant increase in the numbers of Indian students taking up degree courses at UK universities, a number already registering a steady growth with a post-study work offer being added on to student visas under the UK’s new post-Brexit points-based immigration system which is now open for applications. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that Indian nationals accounted for 17 per cent of the total 299,023 sponsored study visas granted by the UK Home Office in the year ending March 2020, with the number more than doubling from 2019 to hit a total of 49,844 grants – a continuous rise since 2016.
“Our assessment is that the number of Indian students can double, if not triple, in the near future and movement on the UK Master’s degree is a very positive one which will add to that momentum,” added Arora.