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Blair launches UK-India education programme

British PM Tony Blair launched the UK-India Education and Research Initiative in London on Tuesday.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 19:31 IST

British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched the UK-India Education and Research Initiative in London on Tuesday with a $22 million support from his government and $8.5 million in cash and kind from the private sector.

"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," Blair wrote in an article, speaking about the new initiative.

"It will launch 40 new UK award programmes for Indian students, which will be offered in partnership with Indian institutions," he said in the article for The Guardian newspaper.

In the article, the British premier spoke about his impressions of India after his visit to New Delhi in September and said the initiative was the result of the promise he had made for bilateral cooperation in education and research.

"No one who visits India can fail to be impressed by the huge advances its economy and education system are making," Blair wrote.

"I returned determined we needed radically to improve our links with a country that is producing hundreds of thousands of graduates each year," he said, adding GlaxoSmithKline, BP, BAE Systems, Shell and Tatas will take part in the project.

"It 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.

"Backed by £12 million of government money, and nearly £5 million in cash or in kind from private sector partners, the initiative will allow split PhDs and research fellowships, and increased academic exchanges."

Blair also set an ambitious target of attracting 100,000 more international students to the United Kingdom by 2011 and said overseas students were contributing over $8.8 billion each year to the economy.

He recalled having set a target of 75,000 additional international students at British universities and colleges by 2005 and informed that this target has been beaten it by an extra 43,000 students.

"Now I want us to go further."

Blair said from the next month any overseas student who completes a postgraduate degree or undergraduates in sectors needing extra skills can work in Britain for up to 12 months after graduating.

"It is about getting the skilled people we need into our economy, and building links around the world that could last a lifetime," he said.

"Encouraging more talented students from overseas to come to London will make the UK a stronger, brighter and better place to learn, for all our students."

First Published: Apr 18, 2006 19:31 IST