A Memorandum of Understanding & A Collaboration of Minds

What the landmark UK-Indian MoU means for the education industry.

In a landmark collaborative effort to merge academic minds from India with the United Kingdom, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the two countries. Both India and the UK share a colourful past, but the Indian MoU is black and white. The MoU is about the mutual recognition of qualifications in the academic world. With such an agreement between these two countries, the scope of research and academics is touted to be widened. Consequently, the educational institutions in both countries can blend methods of study, qualifications and other areas of education seamlessly.

The Path to the Educational Merger

The UK MoU with India, or you could say, the Indian MoU with the UK, saw its conception during a summit in May 2021. Here, the Prime Ministers of both countries virtually met to discuss future bilateral cooperation. Significantly, the two countries also made an agreement for an enhanced partnership in trade relations. While talking of a “Roadmap 2030”, the Prime minister acknowledged education as a crucial pillar of the roadmap. The meeting between Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi ended on a positive note with both sides shaking hands on enhanced education goals for both countries.

Agreement & Understanding

With mutual recognition of both countries as the pivot of talks, the fresh MoU means that Indian pre-university certificates would be recognised for entrance into any higher educational institutions in the UK. In the same way, the A-Levels and their equal certificates would be acceptable documents for entrance into any Indian university. While this was a vital pact signed by the two countries, there were two more.

The nations signed off on an agreement framework to negotiate a system of common agreements to recognise various categories of nursing staff qualifications/licences. Additionally, an MoU to recognise Indian sailors’ certifications to work on British vessels was flagged off. Clearly, all the agreements made between Johnson and Modi imply a greater degree of mobility and smooth transition of Indian students to British shores.

Education and Employment

The Indian MoU is not only important to facilitate the seamless movement of Indian students to the UK, but also supports gainful employment after course completion. Indian students who hold graduate and postgraduate UK degrees/certificates can easily apply for careers in Indian corporations and government firms upon their return. 

Given that the  UK is a highly sought-after destination for Indian students, this MOU is an important milestone in unlocking barriers for those who wish to return to India to either pursue further degrees or apply for government jobs in India. This will make UK universities even more appealing to Indian students. 

As an academic, I see another spin-off: this MOU will also open the door for international collaborative ventures whereby courses can be created which can be delivered in both countries.” – 

Dr Maina Chawla Singh, Scholar-in-Residence and Consultant on international Higher Education at the American University

A Numbers Game

The sheer number of students aiming to study in the UK increases with each passing year. Among the most sought-after educational destinations for Indians, the UK is broadening its outlook, accepting more Indian students than ever before. In 2020-2021, the UK admitted 84,555 Indian students. The facilitation of matching colleges with students is largely undertaken by educational professional agencies, or education services providers like Acumen, finding ideal matches between students and universities. An important aspect of the MoU is that it does not cover professional courses in fields like Engineering, Pharmacy, Medicine or Architecture. Nonetheless, with a great degree of Indians opting for other fields of study, the MoU has significance.

The Breaking of Barriers

The International Secretary of Trade, UK, stated that the legendary MoU stands for the “unblock (of) barriers” with trade. As a result, the higher education process becomes efficient and simple between India and the UK. Largely done to attract Indian and UK students to exchange ideas and mindsets, this can only prove to be a good move. Additionally, since Indian nurses are absorbed into the NHS with regularity, the UK would provide support for nursing training in India.