European Union-India seeks transnational partnerships for higher education & skills

Mumbai: The Council of European Union (EU) Chamber of Commerce in India under the aegis of the Education Committee conducted its second EU India Education Summit on Friday, March 17 at the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai.

Maharashtra School Education Minister Shri Deepak Kesarkar, who served as the Chief Guest of the Summit, was joined by EU Council representatives.

Minister Kesarkar highlighted how Maharashtra is working on developing NEP and found common ground in the government’s efforts to recognize education in one’s mother tongue with the European dignitaries present in the audience.

“Though English is a common language in Indian schools and colleges, most European countries teach subjects to students in their mother tongues. For research, you need scientific data, not language,” stated Kesarkar, who highlighted that Indians can fulfil Europe’s labour needs through various partnerships.

“We can build Centres of Excellence with Europe, while also equipping students with the knowledge of AI, Computing, Robotics, etc. shortly,” added the Minister.

The Council’s panel discussion focused on the changing landscape of transnational partnerships for higher education & skills.

The discussion, which was moderated by Dr. Salunkhe, had the participation of Erik af Hällström, Consul General, Consulate General of Finland, Ferenc Jari, Consul General, Consulate General of Hungary, Vanesa Álvarez Franco, Economic and Commercial Counsellor, Economic & Commercial Office in Mumbai, Embassy of Spain, and Arun Thekkadth, who represented Neso India, the Dutch arm of promoting higher education programs.

“Spain can be a primary destination for international students, especially Indians. We also see a future where students from both countries can experience their study journey in each other’s nations. Such initiatives will help build a broader linkage between both Spain and India as currently, the relationship is not that developed,” stated Vanesa, who added that people-to-people exchange is necessary. Other countries like Hungary, which have also started taking steps to bring international students, have started working on initiatives to attract the latter.

“We are contributing around 600 million Euros towards scholarships for developing countries. 200 Indian citizens have the opportunity to study in Hungarian universities through the Indian government, the expenses of which are taken care of. So overall we understand the function of globalization and the need to build transnational partnerships,” stated Hungarian Consul General Ferenc Jari.

Finland’s achievements as a trailblazer in the educational field were also highlighted as a model for the world to go by, especially for India’s young students. “In Finland, most schools are given autonomy and the ability to facilitate sports and social interactions instead of overloading students with subjects,” said Finland’s Consul General Erik, who added that the country is also motivated by India’s achievements, especially in the IT sector.

The Netherlands, which is known for its touristy features, has also enhanced its academic capabilities over the years which plays into the country’s mobility goals.

“Indian students are the second largest group of international pupils in the Netherlands and are offered a lot of scholarships. In the last four years we have witnessed that most Indian students are studying in the Netherlands and coming back to India to put their skills to use,” said Arun Thekkedath, who serves as the Chief Representative Officer at Neso India, Consulate General of Netherlands.

With COVID-19 opening up the idea of remote education and work, European countries shared varied ideas on continuing with the model and its future.

“Online education being a possibility, cheaper and easier ways are available to provide quality education. We have learned that we don’t have to move around as much to provide transnational education like earlier,” stated Vanesa.