India, UK sign 3 pacts including on recognition of higher education degrees

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India and the UK on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) officially recognising each other’s higher education qualifications, which will pave the way for greater mobility for Indian students to take up postgraduate courses in Britain.

The MoU, part of the India-UK enhanced trade partnership agreed on by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson last year, means A-levels and their equivalents and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees will be recognised in India. Indian senior secondary school or pre-university certificates will be accepted for entry to Britain’s higher education institutions.

The two sides also signed two more pacts – a framework agreement on negotiating a system of mutual arrangements for recognising the qualifications and licences of different categories of nursing professionals, and an MoU for recognising the certification of Indian sailors for service on UK-flagged vessels.

The MoU on recognising educational qualifications will allow Indian students who graduate from British universities to apply for postgraduate courses or to embark on government careers requiring university qualifications on returning home.

Commerce secretary BVR Subrahmanyam told reporters that British degrees will be recognised as equivalent to Indian degrees, though degrees in professional fields such as medicine, pharmacy, engineering and architecture will not be covered under the MoU.

The MoU will increase the potential for British nationals to study in India and open the door for institutions to create courses that can be taught in both countries.

The UK received 84,555 Indian students in 2020-21 and India is a popular destination for British students studying abroad as part of the Turing Scheme international education programme.

Britain’s international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Now, we are delighted to deliver on our promise to unblock barriers to trade between our two nations and make UK higher education even easier to access and more appealing to Indian students.”

The framework agreement for collaboration on the healthcare workforce envisages the UK working with India’s health ministry to support improved nurse training in Indian states for candidates seeking to work in the National Health Service (NHS). Such training will be based on existing national standards in the UK, including the level of English language proficiency required by professional regulators.

The UK will also identify opportunities to develop improved training for nursing specialities such as mental health, critical care, emergency care, palliative care, and neonatal intensive care. There will also be collaboration in bridging skill gaps and training through engagement between professional bodies and regulators in India and the UK.

The two sides will also develop a plan of action to identify initial batches of applicants in India and employers in the UK to ensure a smooth transition into employment in the NHS.

India-UK trade is currently worth more than £24 billion and the two sides are currently engaged in negotiations to finalise a free trade agreement by August 31 so that it can be signed by October. However, the ongoing political turmoil in Britain has raised questions as to whether the two sides can achieve this ambitious timeline.


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