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Scholarship Programme for Diaspora Children (SPDC) 

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Education Brief

India and the UK share excellent bilateral relations in education sector. The announcements made during Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK in November 2015, especially celebrating 2016 as the Year of Education, Science and Innovation, gave a special impetus to the engagement between the two countries in this area.

Indian Students: The UK has traditionally been a favourite destination for students from India. Management, computing, engineering, media studies, art and design are the preferred courses. The number of Indian students in the UK from 2013-14 to 2018-19 for higher Education, are as below:


2013- 14

















Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

As can be seen, there was a decreasing trend in the number of students coming to the UK between 2013-2017; mainly attributable to closure of the old Tier 1 Post Study work route in 2012. A reversal of the trend began in 2016-17 and has continued since then. UK Home Office data shows that a total of 48,297 Tier 4 student visas were granted during July 2019 to June 2020, almost double the numbers from last year. Additionally, the new graduate immigration route available to international students from summer 2021 is expected to bring back the Indian student numbers in the UK to record levels.

Several bilateral mechanisms exist between India and the UK for engagement in the education sector. The more significant ones are:

A. UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI):

It is a multi-stakeholder partnership programme supported by both Governments on the core principle of Mutuality of Benefit. It commenced in April 2006. The UKIERI- phase III (2016-2021) is currently in operation. The Initiative covers 4 strands of work– Leadership and faculty Development, Partnership and research Incubation, Integration of Skills in Education and Enhancing Mobility. A Indian-UK Qualification Recognition Taskforce is also under the UKIERI.


In the year 2020, an innovative virtual mobility programme was designed under its aegis which allows students in India and the UK to experience some of the benefits of a physical mobility programme in a virtual setting to 400 students. Leadership training was delivered to 235 participants in India in partnership with the UGC, and 200 participants completed their training as part of a scheme being delivered in partnership with the AICTE.


B. India-UK Education Forum:

India-UK Education Forum is a Ministerial level platform for engagement between India and the UK. The Seventh India-UK Education Forum is scheduled to be held in London.

C. Joint Working Group on Education:

The 6th India-UK Education Forum Meeting held on 13th November, 2014 in New Delhi, decided to constitute a Joint Working Group consisting of officers from both sides to deliberate and work on modalities of future collaborations in education. The first meeting of the JWG on Education was held in July 2015. The decision to celebrate 2016 as the UK-India Year of Education, Science and Technology was the key outcome of the Meeting.

D. Scholarship Schemes:

  • The National Overseas Scholarships are granted by the Ministry of Social justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. More than 50 such scholars are currently studying in UK for PhD and Masters courses. The Mission liaisons between Ministries and Universities for students admission and pays tuition fees, Contingency allowance, Visa and Immigration Health Surcharge expense at the University and their final return back to India as sanctioned by the concerned Ministry.

  • ICCR offers two annual scholarship slots to meritorious nationals from the UK to pursue under-graduate, post-graduate, doctoral and other research courses in Indian Universities in general courses (except medicine and dentistry) under the Commonwealth Scholarship/Fellowship Plan.

  • ICCR has also introduced two short term scholarships to SOAS scholars under Commonwealth Scholarship scheme in 2016 to study in India.

  • Ministry of Human Resource Development administers award of Ms. Agatha Harrison Memorial Fellowship (one fellowship) instituted by GoI at St. Antony’s College, Oxford (U.K). The Fellowship is meant for scholars who have specialized in Modern Indian Studies in the subject fields of History, Economics and Political Science.


  • Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP): The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom (CSC) manages the UK Government’s contribution to this plan. With a budget of around £25 million per annum, Commonwealth Scholarships are a major UK government scholarship scheme. India is offered 65 slots and the nominations are done by MHRD.


  • MHRD announced its flagship programme ‘scheme for promotion of academic and research collaboration (SPARC) in October 2018. The scheme funds/promotes joint research projects between Indian and foreign institutions. In the first phase MHRD approved a total of 282 projects proposals for research.

E. Collaborations:

  • Cambridge Judge Business School has strong ties with India. Government of India had established Jawaharlal Nehru Professorship through a grant of £3.2 million to University of Cambridge. A proposal for a meeting this year at Minister level at the School is under consideration.

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust (JNMT) JNMT was founded in 1969 by Lord Mountbatten of Burma in memory of the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru. The initial endowment was provided by HM Treasury and is managed today by Cazenove Capital Management on behalf of the Governor. The High Commissioner of India is the ex-officio Governor of the Trust which also includes some of the prominent British and Indian academicians. The Trust has two objectives: (i) to give Indian scholars, the benefit of post-graduate studies (fully funded PhD courses) at Cambridge; and (ii) organize an annual memorial lecture by a speaker of international stature at King's India Institute.

  • Tagore Centre for Global Thought, King’s India Institute: It was established in the 150th anniversary year of Rabindranath Tagore’s birth, and formally inaugurated by Minister of Culture in April 2013.


  • Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD): Somerville College has established the Centre to educate, innovate and collaborate on India's leading role in global sustainable growth and development. Government of India has provided a seed money of Rs. 25 crores (GBP 3 million). Up to five fully-funded Oxford Indira Gandhi Graduate Scholarships, endowed in perpetuity are also available to Indian students at the Centre.

  • The 100 Foot Journey Club is a collaboration between High Commission of India and the London School of Economics (LSE) South Asia CentreThe Club hosts academic events and other activities of mutual interest. It aims to organize at least 6 events annually, including panel discussions, film screenings etc. either at LSE or India House/Nehru Centre.

  • Civil Service College: Civil Service College is a leading provider of high quality, bespoke training for those working in the public sector and civil service in the UK and abroad. It runs a five-day programme designed to guide senior public sector managers seeking to develop their leadership skills. Several of our civil service officers take this training course.


  • Newton-Bhabha Fund is an initiative under the India UK S&T relationship based on principles of co-funding, co-creation of knowledge and reciprocity to jointly address global challenges while delivering excellence.


F. Events, visits ,talks and seminars

  • Prime Minister’s visit to the UK on 12-13 November 2015: 

The visit gave a new impetus to engagement between the two countries in the education sector. The following announcements relating to education were made during the visit:

  • 2016 would be the UK-India year of Education, Research and Innovation. This will highlight the strengths of the bilateral relationship, drive further collaboration, including a range of digital technology enabled education and training initiatives, so that both countries create a new 21st century framework as partners in education, research and innovation partners, in the global context.

  • It was agreed to initiate virtual partnerships at the school level to enable young people of either country to experience the school system of the other country and develop an understanding of the culture, traditions and social and family systems.

  • The two Leaders welcomed UK’s plans for 25,000 UK students to go to India through the Generation UK-India programme by 2020, including 1000 UK interns with Tata Consultancy Services in India by 2020.

  • The two Prime Ministers also welcomed the 3rd phase of the UK India Education and Research Initiative.

  • The two Prime Ministers welcomed the commitment to achieving mutual recognition of UK and Indian qualifications.

  • UK PM’s visit to India in November 6-8, 2016:

Cooperation in education and research was part of discussions in the meeting between the Prime Minsiters during the visit. They noted that 2016 was the India-UK Year of Education, Research and Innovation and welcomed:

  • Further investment (£20m) in the UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI) to 2021, creating 50 new partnerships in 2017.

  • First 35 UK faculties visiting India under GIAN programme and 198 new GREAT scholarships for Indian students to study at 40 UK universities.

  • Celebration of 2017 as the India-UK Year of Culture and have supported the activities and programmes being planned, for example 'Illuminating India' (then unnamed) exhibition of Indian Science in the Science Museum, and highlighting 400 years of Shakespeare.

  • New teaching materials to the Indian SWAYAM MOOC platform, developed in partnership by UK and Indian universities.

  • UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson’s visit to India from November 1-2, 2017: UK Minister Jo Johnson met Indian Minister for Science and Innovation Dr Harsh Vardhan in New Delhi on November 1, 2017. They discussed stronger UK-India science and research collaborations.

During this trip, the UK Minister announced first ever winners of the Newton Prize 2017. Jo Johnson also announced India-specific Rutherford Fellowships that will be delivered by the British Museum, British Library and Natural History Museum as well as global Rutherford Fellowships through the British Academy.

  • Education World Forum: The UK hosts the world’s largest gathering of education and skills ministers in January every year. The event is supported by the Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Office (FDCO), the Department for Education (DFE), the Department for International Trade,(DIT), the British Council and the EWF industry partners. Education Ministers from states represent India at the Forum. India was represented at the event both in 2019 and 2020.

  • Engagement with student bodies:

The student bodies provide fora for welcoming new students, addressing students’ combined needs and concerns, celebrating various Indian festivals and national days together and to work closely with the Mission to further India-UK educational ties and research collaboration. 

In November, 2017, High Commission of India in the UK hosted the launch of an all UK Students Association titled ‘Indian National Students Association (INSA)’ UK, to provide a home away from home for students from India arriving in the UK for their studies and research.  

  • Engagement by the High Commission of India: Several visits and talks were given by the High Commissioner in the last two years. They include a speech for the Angad Paul Building Official naming Ceremony at University of Wolverhampton; engaging with the students of Cardiff and Swansea Universities in March 2019; a speech on renewal energy and air pollution in India at Edinburgh University in May 2019; a roundtable discussion with the OCISD scholars and Researchers at Oxford in May 2019; tree planting ceremony at University of Southampton in June 2019; attended the Vivekanand festival at UCL as chief guest in July 2019 and a talk at the University of Oxford on the role of India in South Asian Geo Politics organized by the Oxford South Asian Society (OSAS)

  • A virtual Teacher’s Day celebration was organized by the Mission on 5 September 2020. The event was attended by teachers and they spoke on Teachers from India in research and development, in Higher education and in secondary and Primary education.


  • A virtual interaction was organized with the Indian Commonwealth Scholarship holders in November 2020. A total of 11 scholars participated along with the Commonwealth secretariat. The work and studies of the students in the UK was discussed.