Shashi Tharoor at the Policy Dialogue, Delhi 2013
Shashi Tharoor at the Policy Dialogue, Delhi 2013 ©

British Council


Welcome to the first issue of our e-newsletter on Internationalising Higher Education (IHE). Through our work in IHE, we promote policy dialogues, student mobility, alumni engagement, knowledge economy partnerships and scholarships. Over time, through the series of IHE newsletters we look forward to share with you success stories, perspectives, trends in higher education, policy developments and opportunities for India and the UK. The British Council has a long and deep connection with higher education institutions in India and the UK and through IHE we hope to help shape the future of education relationships between the two countries. I hope you find this information useful and we would encourage you to share any insights and feedback you have with us.   

Rob Lynes, Director India, British Council


UGC’s new regulations on foreign collaborations: A policy overview from Pawan Agarwal, Adviser Higher Education, Planning Commission of India

Indian law to allow foreign universities to award degrees in India has been on the government agenda for many years. Despite being mostly restrictive rather than facilitative, the proposed law was welcomed by foreign universities since it brought much-needed clarity on regulations around foreign education. However, foreign education is a highly emotive issue, and hence has been difficult to evolve a consensus on it. Meanwhile, the University Grants Commission issued regulations that would closely regulate the foreign collaborative programmes. An earlier version of the regulations allowed only those foreign institutions ranked in the top 500 worldwide to collaborate with Indian universities. Responding to wide-ranging concerns about such regulations, the UGC has now reviewed them. It has now allowed those foreign institutions which are accredited with the highest grade in their home country to have twining arrangement with those Indian Institutions which are accredited by the nationally recognized accrediting agencies with a grade not less than ‘B’ or its equivalent in respect of institutional accreditation or a threshold level of accreditation in respect of programme accreditation, as the case may be. This brings in much-needed clarity on foreign collaborations in India and is therefore welcome. Given the large potential for growth, as the regulatory environment for foreign provision in India evolves and becomes stable, clearer and gains legitimacy, it could see huge growth in the coming years.  


National Policy Dialogue on university rankings, research evaluation and research funding 

A key strand of British Council’s Internationalising Higher Education (IHE) Programme is Education policy dialogues. The National Policy Dialogue on university rankings, research evaluation and research funding, which included a round table discussion was held in New Delhi on 22 and 23 May 2013. The event was organised by the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, with support from the British Council, Times Higher Education and Thomson Reuters. The purpose of the dialogue was to  share information with policy makers and heads of institutions  about a) the global rankings metrics and methodology, b) international best practice in research evaluation  and c) models of research funding that are linked or delinked with performance and their implications, and build consensus on the relevance and usefulness for Indian institutions to participate in global rankings and developing similar systems for research evaluation, read more here. 

UK India academic partnership forges new collaboration in education research  

Main Text: A common course curriculum on 'quality of education' was jointly produced as part of a year-long academic partnership between the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and King’s College in London (KCL) supported by the British Council. This new course will be taught as part of a research degree in their respective institutions. This partnership was established under the aegis of the British Council’s Knowledge Economy Partnerships programme. TISS and King’s College worked to strengthen the newly formed Centre for Education established on the TISS campus in Hyderabad and helped King’s College Department of Education to academically engage with Indian institutions. Apart from formulating a new course, they also worked on jointly developing a reader on ‘quality education’, strengthened and consolidated the capacities of their respective student research teams and widen the scope of their work through joint seminars in India and the UK. Harpreet Kaur, an MPhil student at TISS, said, “the student exchange programme opened a whole new world for me. The British education system has unlocked a number of areas I would like to explore deeper - the inspection system, the focus on assessment, the structured and methodical teaching of phonics, the rigor and commitment of the primary school teachers, resource intensive classrooms, students of varied ethnic backgrounds – are potential areas of meaningful research for me.” Manjula Rao, Assistant Director, Internationalising Higher Education at British Council highlighted this ‘as a great example of a sustained partnership where there are endless possibilities that can be explored between two institutions and lasting bridges built across our two countries.' 

To know how your institution can participate, read more here


Meeting of Minds: building partnerships between the University of Glasgow and India – An India experience story from Dr. Vivienne Baumfield, Professor of Pedagogy Policy and Innovation, University of Glasgow

Working in partnership with colleagues from the Department of Museology at  Calcutta University builds on shared interests, common experiences and historical links between our two institutions.  For example, we both have important special collections housed in a museum that was established as an integral part of the material and cultural fabric of the university.  What is more, one of the special collections in the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow is that of William Hooker, Regius Professor of Botany, a key figure in the development of Kew Gardens in England and the Botanic Gardens in Kolkata.  It was this connection that led to the forging of a contemporary alliance between academics in Museology at the University of Glasgow and Calcutta University.  Staff and student exchanges and joint research bids have grown out of this connection and the signing of the MoU between the two institutions is bearing fruit in other disciplines including history, the study of literature and the law. Fostering partnerships between institutions is the main responsibility of my role as International Dean for South Asia.  As a senior academic at the University of Glasgow, I am able to facilitate opportunities for colleagues to develop and extend their interests and so enable collaboration to be sustained to the mutual benefit of all participants. What may begin as a chance encounter through the networks to which individual academics belong can become the basis for high level strategic partnerships permeating all aspects of the lives of both institutions.  Key to the internationalisation strategy of the University of Glasgow is a commitment to fostering reciprocity whereby the benefits of collaboration are mutual.  Partnerships are based on the secure foundations of genuine interest in learning from each other and accruing benefits for students and staff within each institution.  I cherish my role as  International Dean because of the opportunity it gives me to deepen my own knowledge of India, a country I first visited in 1980 as a young PhD student writing a thesis on the relationships between tradition and modernity in Swami Vivekananda's interpretation of Advaita Vedanta.  Sharing my passion for the rich intellectual traditions of India with like-minded colleagues in my own university and in the institutions with whom I work with in India is definitely a privilege.  Recently, I was able to gain insight into the daily life of an academic in India as a Nehru Chair at MSU, Baroda.  Settling into a routine of lecturing and holding seminars with students was an invaluable opportunity and one I hope many more academics in India and the UK will have. If I had to name just one benefit of working together in partnership, I think it would be how such encounters not only helps us to understand each other but how it teaches us about ourselves. I can think of no better aim for the modern university than to promote such self- knowledge in the service of international co-operation.


A dialogue on Transnational Education with Dr. Pankaj Chandra, Director, IIM Bangalore

Dr. Pankaj Chandra who attended the ‘Higher Education Summit in the UK’s G8 Presidency Year’ representing India, shares his experience through a series of answers to questions we posed.

Question: What was your overall impression of the summit?

Answer: It was an excellent opportunity to share thoughts with people across the globe who were trying grapple with the challenges & opportunities to learn across boundaries. the summit was intimate, open and refreshing in terms of ideas and dialogue.

Question: Do you think TNE has not picked up in India as compared to some other neighbouring countries?  If so, what may the reasons be? What do you feel are the prospects of TNE for the future?

Answer: India is a very diverse nation with lots of advanced capabilities and quality institutions. it has always followed a path of self-reliance and development of internal capabilities. Neighbouring countries are much smaller and have followed different strategies to build capabilities. as a result, the shape that global educational initiatives will take in India will be very different from others. Those institutions & countries who appreciate this ethos, will forge great partnerships in India. a successful strategy for India is to build on the capabilities that exist in Indian institutions to solve local and global problems. those who will try to focus on India as a market will find it difficult to achieve their goals. India is a place that you can transform only by getting transformed.   

Question: What is the role of TNE in supporting the national higher education strategy? 

Answer: We felt that tne is not an appropriate term as it connotes domination of ideas as opposed to sharing across boundaries. One must understand that learning across boundaries provides for a diverse learning environment. having students or teachers or material in a classroom that reflects better understanding of cultures, societies and perspectives is the true purpose of such an education. Improving global citizenship is the real advantage, and this should transform all participants, not institutions from the host country. The giver and receiver model is outdated in education. 

Question: How does TNE effectively contribute to the building of local capacity for higher education, increasing access to higher education and as a platform for knowledge sharing with local partner institutions?

Answer: Many institutions as well as countries look to enter the education space of another country for simple commercial reasons. That rarely contributes to capability building. Benefits of learning across boundaries is a two way street. whoever thinks that they will get their institutions to come and teach the locals is only perpetuating old mindsets. Both partnering institutions (or countries) must look to gain intellectually from any interaction - solve problems and address issues jointly which each partner is unable to do themselves. When it comes to specific skill building efforts, such efforts must also help build local capabilities to learn rather than transactional in nature. only then will such interaction be of long term value to all.

Question: What are the cultural and political impacts of TNE locally?

Answer: These are opportunities to understand cultural mores of partnering countries. If not done with sensitivity, they will not dig roots.

Question: Will the role of TNE shift and what changes should we drive or prepare for?  

Answer: As local institutions become stronger, they will give more than taking. That will be a good measure of success of any partnership.

Postcard from the UK – A student mobility story from Sarah Lawton

The practice of ‘traditional/folk’ crafts has almost disappeared from European culture and the opportunity to learn directly from skilled craftsmen was a unique opportunity for us, writes Sarah Lawton. A designer from the Manchester School of Art, Sarah was in India as part of a student exchange programme, studying at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad between November 2012 and April 2013. She wrote us an open letter on her experiences in India and what she will always treasure….Read more.

Forthcoming events:

Global Education Dialogues: The South Asia Series 2013-2014 

The British Council organises Global Education Dialogues around the world to bring together key policy-makers and influencers so that they can reflect on and debate the challenges and opportunities international higher education faces. It is a facilitated dialogue between governments, universities and industry with contributions and fresh perspectives from our network of leading thinkers. The South Asia Series provides a six-part programme of dialogues to frame the debate on the issues affecting higher education in South Asia and the UK. Each policy dialogue features the latest thinking in its area with new research and input from the government and industry leaders. Papers and research from the policy dialogues will be published so that they can contribute to evidence-led policy developments.  The first in the series titled ‘Transforming Higher Education in South Asia’ will be held in Sri Lanka on 18 and 19 June 2013.  

For more details please visit or contact Dhanasekaran Loganathan at 

Students with disabilities from Delhi University to visit the UK

Delhi University is sending twenty two first year undergraduate students with disabilities to the UK from 29 June to 9 July.  Four volunteers and four faculty members will accompany the group. This will be the first of such a student visit from India and has the full backing of key ministries of India. Professor Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor, Delhi University and Rob Lynes, Country Director India collaborated on making this happen. The purpose of the visit is to facilitate the empowerment of students with disabilities as they get an exposure to international institutions, gain first-hand knowledge about newer technologies in the field of disability rehabilitation, broaden their intellectual horizon by interacting with students with disabilities, teachers and UK professionals. This will help them establish contacts, exchange ideas, develop knowledge of good practices, disseminate sharing of experiences thereby paving a way to establish joint programmes and research in the future and further develop a holistic model for people with disabilities. Students who require assistance with visual disabilities, auditory disabilities and loco motor disabilities will attend the programme in the UK beginning 29 June. Staff from the Equal Opportunities Cell of Delhi University and British Council will be a part of the group. This is being delivered in partnership with King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh. During their visit to King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh the students will attend various lectures, tour of the library and learning facilities, meet careers service and student disability services, meeting with colleagues from Student Centre/International Student Support. For further details please contact Vishu Sharma, Senior Project Manager, Student Mobility and Alumni Development, British Council, India at