The Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark has launched a new UK-wide campaign to support 25,000 UK students visit India over the next five years.
The campaign, ‘Generation UK-India', aims to create a new generation of more globally, culturally and business aware young people, and will be managed by the British Council. Underlining the UK Government and universities' ongoing commitment to promoting international opportunities to students across the UK, Generation UK-India will provide opportunities for UK students to either work as teaching assistants in Indian schools, gain work experience at top Indian companies, or go on specially organised cultural immersion courses.
The first Generation UK-India placements will begin in summer 2015.
Speaking at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry HE summit in Delhi, Greg Clark said, "It's great news that over the next five years up to 25,000 young people will get to experience student and working life India. This programme will help create a more globally competitive UK workforce and will help future proof the UK-India relationship."
Prof. Furqan Qamar, Secretary General, Association of Indian Universities, said, "Student Mobility programmes, such as the newly launched Generation UK- India, support internationalisation agenda of Indian universities aimed at promoting excellence and building deeper understanding of cultures between Indian and UK students."
The British Council is in discussions with businesses such as KPMG and BP, who have expressed interest in supporting the scheme.
Lord Bilimoria, Founding Chairman of the UK-India Business Council, and a programme champion of Generation UK-India commented "The world is getting more integrated, more inter-connected, more interdependent. And in that sort of a world you've got to be open minded, world aware, outward looking. Britain has always been a trading nation. Britain has always been an open nation; Britain is one of the most open economies in the world. So we need our students to go out, and experience the world and experience countries like India. That's going to help our students better themselves, become more competitive and give them a huge advantage in life, which gives Britain a huge advantage.
"For a youngster from the UK to go to India is a transformational experience, it's an eye-opening experience to actually on the ground witness, experience India's buzz, energy and economy going forward in leaps and bounds with all its challenges is a life changing experience for a young person from Britain" Lord Bilimoria added.
Rob Lynes, Director of the British Council in India, said "Student mobility is a proven means of building long-lasting ties between nations, but currently the UK welcomes around 300 Indian students for every British student going to India. That imbalance needs to be addressed. India is poised to be the third largest economy in the world, and we want to give many more young British people the chance to get a better experience of modern India, and the opportunity to gain a more global mindset."
The CBI/Pearson 2014 Education and Skills survey found that almost two-thirds (63%) of UK employers were not satisfied with school or college leavers' international cultural awareness. Simon Moore, the CBI's International Director, said "The CBI is honoured to support the British Council's exciting new ‘Generation UK-India' project which is aimed at building the next generation of British talent through UK-India business partnerships. I hope that our member companies will also get involved in this worthy initiative."
In August 2014, 200 UK students took part in a two-week cultural immersion course in India, organised by the UKIERI Study India programme. Tom Wyke, 22, a History student from Queen Mary University of London, said "This programme really allows you to open the door into India in a very unique manner, something you can't get by backpacking. It helps you to understand a little bit of the culture and get a feel for why it's such a diverse and special place."