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New awards for Indian students in UK

British government will support 70 research projects and launch 40 new awards for Indian students, over the next five years.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 10:50 IST

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday unveiled the UK-India Education and Research Initiative that will support 70 research projects and launch 40 award programmes for Indian students over the next five years.

Blair also set a target of attracting 100,000 more foreign students to Britain by 2011 and promised an overhaul of the visa system to make it easier for them to work in the country.

Launching the new education initiative for Indian students that was originally announced during his visit to New Delhi in September, Blair paid fulsome tribute to India's advances in education.

"No one who visits India can fail to be impressed by the huge advances its economy and education system are making, and I returned determined that we needed radically to improve our links with a country that is producing hundreds of thousands of graduates each year," he said.

"The new initiative lays the ground not only for us to become each other's partner of choice in education, but also for us to collaborate on world-class research, which will be backed by proper investment from government and industry".

He said, "Over the next five years, the initiative will support 70 new research projects that link centres of excellence in the sciences and social science from India and the UK. And it will launch 40 new UK award programmes for Indian students, which will be offered in partnership with Indian institutions."

BP, GlaxoSmithKline, BAE Systems and Shell had agreed to back the initiative, and India's Tata Group would also participate, he said.

Backed by 12 million pounds of government money, and nearly five million pounds in cash or in kind from private sector partners, the initiative will 'allow split PhDs and research fellowships, and increased academic exchanges.'

Blair said, "The UK is a world leader in the recruitment of international students, second only to the US. In fact, international students contribute over five billion pounds each year to our economy.

"This explains why, back in 1999, I personally set a target of an additional 75,000 international students at our universities and colleges by 2005. I am pleased to say we have not only reached this target but beaten it by an extra 43,000 students."

Blair also announced an allocation of seven million pounds so that Britain's universities and colleges could continue attracting foreign students.

He said the visa system would be overhauled 'to make it simpler for talented individuals who want to come to study in Britain, while keeping out anyone who intends to abuse the system.'

"From May this year, any international student who completes a postgraduate degree, and undergraduates in sectors where we need extra skills, will be able to work in the UK for up to 12 months after graduating," he said.