University joins UK and Indian Prime Ministers in New Delhi to highlight importance of collaboration in research and industry

The University of Sheffield’s Vice-Chancellor will this week join Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Theresa May, as well as university and business leaders, in India to highlight the global significance of science and innovation, the importance of collaboration between both nations and the positive impact of international students on British society.

New DelhiProfessor Sir Keith Burnett and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West have travelled to New Delhi to join a high-level government, business and scientific summit which includes the UK Prime Minister on her first overseas trade delegation, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Science and Universities Minister Jo Johnson.

During the visit, Sir Keith will deliver a speech at the India-UK Tech Summit, India’s largest knowledge and technology conference and exhibition, on the importance of integrating research and industry drawing on the experience of the University of Sheffield's award-winning Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

The AMRC partners a number of major multi-national and high-tech companies with an outstanding global reputation for research which integrates with the needs of enhanced commercial productivity in the aerospace, automotive and nuclear energy sectors.

The summit was jointly inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and the UK Prime Minister Theresa May to highlight a vision to create a new era of bilateral economic relationship and trade between the two countries.

Sir Keith said: “I am delighted to see the UK engaging with India, a country with whom we have had in-depth partnerships in science, engineering and medicine for many years. UK universities have long respected the calibre of highly-educated Indian students and staff, and collaboration comes naturally to us in key areas such as health and sustainability, energy and next generations factoring where we face common challenges.

“Many of our Indian graduates hold senior positions in Indian companies and the warmth and understanding between the academic communities is an excellent foundation for even closer partnerships in future."

However, along with business leaders and politicians of all parties, Sir Keith has urged the Prime Minister to take steps to ensure that Indian students are made welcome in the UK through visas which allow invaluable post-study experience and by removing students from migration figures.

He said: "We already have links together which are part of what Indian Prime Minister Modi called 'the global knowledge economy'. I think of years of shared research by academics in Sheffield working with the eye hospital in Hyderabad - breakthroughs in care which benefit the elderly and needy in both nations.

“The University of Sheffield currently has 140 Indian students studying full-time degrees in Sheffield and 2,333 alumni in India.

“What we must not do is risk the precious connection between UK universities and Indian students. Over many decades they have been a vital and much-loved part of our universities, second only in numbers to students from China. To needlessly alienate such an important group of talented young people by mistaken policies would be a tragedy for them and for us."

At a joint event with Universities UK and De Montfort University on Wednesday, Sir Keith will highlight the sector-wide #WeAreInternational campaign, which he founded with the Sheffield Students' Union and now has more than 100 universities and organisations across the UK supporting efforts to welcome international students, staff, research and collaborations in higher education.

The campaign has also been backed by sector bodies, including Universities UK and the National Union of Students and used by the British Council and Foreign Office.

During the visit, the Vice-Chancellor will travel to Bangalore to hold meetings with tech companies working in cyber security and big data, while Professor West will visit the University of Delhi to discuss potential future collaboration between both institutions.

Additional information

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