India and the US on Thursday launched an expanded higher education dialogue as an annual bilateral event to map out strategies for partnership between the two countries. And India will set up a platform to pursue identified goals.
"The dialogue should identify areas for mutually beneficial exchanges and provide a platform for intense and meaningful collaboration among academia, the private sector, and government on both sides," said a joint statement issued at the end of a one-day education summit kicked off by HRD minister Kapil Sibal and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
The dialogue will be held alternately in India and the US, much as the other two important annual dialogues between the two countries: the strategic dialogue and economic and financial partnership.
Addressing a news conference later in the evening, Sibal said he had come to the US for this first ever education summit to see if the Americans were truly and genuinely interested in a partnership with India. And they are, he found out.
The minister said he also has the satisfaction of returning home with commitments for community colleges - local vocational institutions, and a US education delegation coming to India later in the years to further the engagement.
The Indian delegation had not come to woo Ivy Leagues like Harvard, Yale and Princeton - that's not our vision, said Sibal. The realistic expectation was see interest for twining programmes, certificate and diploma courses and research.
The joint statement laid some specific cooperation goals.
- Promoting strategic institutional partnerships in the priority areas including science and engineering, social sciences, and humanities, and addressing societal challenges in areas such as cyber security, energy, environment, health and agriculture.
- Encouraging expansion and deepened collaboration in research and development in the above areas.
- Fostering partnerships in the areas of vocational education and skills enhancement.
- Exploration of models for 'educational institutions for the 21st Century' (such as 'meta' universities).
- Further strengthening programs for student and faculty enrichment and exchange, and development of leadership in academia at all levels;
- Welcoming the involvement of the private sector in the two countries to support and deepen collaboration with the higher education community, faculty exchanges, skills development, and institutional partnerships.