India and the US have finalised the contours of the Singh-Obama 21st Century Knowledge Initiative. Details of the ambitious project may be unveiled during US President Barack Obama’s visit in early November.
Indian and US universities that establish partnership programmes will be eligible for financial grants from the two governments under the project.
Tiding over differences over implementation, India and the US have agreed to form a joint working group (JWG) to pick the universities that will receive awards, sources said.
Earlier, India wanted the University Grants Commission (UGC) to implement the project while the US wanted the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) in charge.
The Initiative was announced by Obama during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US last November. Despite repeated talks, the two countries have only recently firmed up the project.
“President Obama’s visit was our deadline to finalise the project which both the President and PM Singh are very keen on,” a source said. India and the US are also working on setting up an Indo-US higher education council that will consist of senior government and non-government representatives.
India and the US have traditionally had strong educational ties. Most top Indian higher educational institutions have partnerships with reputed American institutions.
But both governments have concluded that they need to incentivise partnerships — especially in collaborative research and faculty training — more, especially because of the adverse impact of the recession on American institutions.
“The incentives are critical to continue and further build our ties because the recession has forced top US universities to reconsider their financial bottom-line. We do not want the recession to hurt Indo-US educational ties,” a source said.
Under the Initiative, each country will provide $ 5 million over a five-year period. The USIEF will disburse the US grant to American institutions picked by the JWG, while Indian institutions selected will be awarded grants by the UGC.
The US will pay each selected university a grant between $200,000 and $250,000 for partnership programmes over three years. “We recognise that faculty development is a key area of concern in India and that we can aide India in that respect...” the official said.
Institutions that have identified their partner universities will be given preference during selections,” sources said.
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