Published On: Thu, Nov 17th, 2011

UK and India widen educational, scientific engagement

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David Willets

David Willets, Universities and Science Minister of the United Kingdom

Universities and Science Minister of the United Kingdom David Willetts has announced the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between University of Oxford and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore on the Oxford-IISc Axis on Affordable Healthcare. The MOU will harness complementary scientific capabilities of Oxford and IISc in biology and engineering.

The MOU is part of the UK’s efforts to tap the Indian scientific talent for mutual benefit. The ongoing effort has seen UK universities and institutions entering into tie ups and partnerships with premier Indian institutions.

Willetts said the tieup would involve clinicians from Bangalore hospitals and scientists from rural Indian universities in providing affordable healthcare.

It would also involve innovation and commercialisation experts from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore to provide affordable treatment, Willetts added. On his meeting with IISc experts, Willett said UK was keen on addressing problems relating to urban transport and town planning systems in Bangalore.

David also announced the launch of $400,000 A P J Abdul Kalam Scholarship scheme for Indian students.

Under the scheme Queen’s University, Belfast would offer scholarships to 100 Indian students enrolling in postgraduate engineering, science and technology programmes in September 2012. Belfast is known to attract the highest number of software development projects in the UK outside of London.

He said UK was through with the proposal to set up an academy to train at least 300 Indian academics for gaining quality teaching skills. “There is immense scope for British institutions to provide training to teachers,” he added.

Willetts also said there are about 50,000 Indian students studying in various UK institions. “India runs second only to China in terms of oversees students pursuing higher education in UK,” he said.

He also hoped to see business students in Britain taking benefit of IIM, Bangalore. “It is an execellent business school,” he said.

Asked about signing MoUs between India and UK in fields other than education and research, Willetts said his country expected a lot of collaboration with industries in future.

During the visit of Willett, the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Depart of Biotechnology, India, have agreed to jointly fund a call for research proposals in the areas of bioenergy. The synergy between UK and Indian bioenergy research offers opportunities for innovation in a number of areas underpinning the development and implementation of novel biofuels. UK will extend up to 5 million pound to each agency for projects that could help reduce dependence of India and the UK on fossil fuels.

Another project which has been signed up will study changing water cycles as part of the programme to improve predictions on future patterns of flood and drought in the context of climate change. The project has secured Pound 2.5 million from UK’s Natural Environment Research Council and matched resources from India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences.