UK, India higher education agreement a win for African students

International communities and countries have been putting in efforts to remove bottlenecks in international education, especially with the disruption of COVID-19, and any progress in that regard is welcome news to students from Africa. 

International education, which is popularly referred to as study abroad has gained prominence in Ghana and the Sub-Saharan region over the past decade or two, with students willing to study in any country outside the continent except for certificate acceptance issues from some of these countries.

International communities and countries have been putting in efforts to remove bottlenecks in international education, especially with the disruption of COVID-19, and any progress in that regard is welcome news to students from Africa.

The United Kingdom (UK) and India have signed a landmark education agreement that officially recognizes each other’s higher education qualifications/certificates, a partnership identified to be in the interest of African students heading to Asia.

The move which was welcomed by British universities and students from India who plan to study in the UK is equally in favour of students from Ghana and other African countries studying in Asia, especially India as most of them usually seek to move to Europe for work opportunities upon completion of studies.

In 2021, according to Association for African Students (AAS), there were about 25,000 African students studying in 500 public and private universities across India, and these numbers are likely to grow in the future with increased cooperation between India and Africa.

Furthermore, data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, shows that Asian countries have become the second most popular destination for African students studying abroad with China being number one followed by the likes of India, Japan, Korea, and Israel, among others in no particular order.

It would be recalled that earlier last month, the 2022 edition of ‘Study in India Expo’ was held at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra where about 15 Indian universities were present to woo Ghanaian students to India.

Head of Study in India Expo, Shri Sandeep Goel, in a statement at the Expo said: “The rising numbers year on year of foreign students studying in India has made it one of the most lucrative destinations for higher education. We are happy to provide a common platform through study at India Expo to global students and parents in Asia and the Middle East to meet and interact with prestigious Indian institutions.”

Now, with this agreement coming to fruition what seems to be a limitation has been removed as African students get to know that their qualifications from India can be used in UK and other parts of the world beyond Africa.

The Memorandum of Understanding is part of the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) agreed on by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year. Under the landmark agreement, qualifications for higher education, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, will be recognized in both the UK and India.

Indian upper secondary qualifications will now be recognized as meeting entry requirements of higher education institutions in the UK. In turn, A-levels and their equivalents, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the UK will now be recognized in India.

It will also allow Indian students who graduate from British universities to work in government positions that require university qualifications when they go back to India.

What does the agreement mean for international education?

The agreement is expected to expand higher education interaction and cooperation between the two countries and boost opportunities for students in both India and the UK. It is specifically seen to expand international education enrollment from students coming from the two countries.

The UK is already traditionally a popular study destination for Indian students. In fact, for the Fall 2022 intake, there was already a record number of Indian students enrolled in UK universities. The agreement is expected to expand the UK international enrollment further.

“India is the second-highest resource for international students in the UK, after China. This Memorandum of Agreement will make the UK a more appealing study destination for Indian students who wish to pursue their education abroad,” notes Sanjay Laul, CEO and founder of M Square Media, a global service provider, and international education platform. “Conversely, graduates of UK universities may now start looking to India as a new study destination worth considering,” Laul adds.

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