A new partnership between the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) will see the two organisations joining forces to support new multinational initiatives in teaching, training, leadership development, and research collaborations.
Professor Furqan Qamar, Secretary General of the AIU, and Dr Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Sunday 10 December in New Delhi, India. This new agreement will strengthen Indian collaborations across the Commonwealth, drawing on the ACU's extensive global network.
Indian universities are at the forefront of new research initiatives, and at the same time, face enormous challenges in meeting the growing demand for higher education among the youth population. This collaboration will enable the AIU to draw more closely on the experience and expertise of the ACU. Meanwhile, the AIU will help the ACU better represent and advocate for its growing numbers of member institutions in India.
Dr Joanna Newman said: 'I am pleased to formalise the ACU's collaboration with the AIU. The ACU has over 150 member universities in India, and I'm confident that this MoU will enable us to better serve our Indian members.
'Having recently appointed a South Asia representative, Aditya Malkani, the ACU is committed to developing programmes within the region that meet the needs of our members. One of the first things we want to work on together is a joint funding proposal to establish a leadership training and capacity-building programme for senior administrators at Indian universities.'
Professor Furqan Qamar said: 'India is an emerging economy with a population of 1.3 billion – almost half of the population of the Commonwealth. Over 50% of India's population, or around 600 million, is under 25 years; and within the next five years, India will have the largest tertiary-age population in the world.
'It gives me immense pleasure that the two largest and oldest university networks – the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) and Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) – have joined hands to work for the development of higher education in India and the Commonwealth.'
Aditya Malkani, South Asia representative for the ACU, added: 'It is an honour and a privilege to represent the world's first international university network in South Asia and to be a part of this historic signing, which will lead to greater collaboration, commencing with the launch of a leadership development and capacity building programme.
'We are keen to engage more proactively with our existing members in South Asia over the coming months and years – particularly in the areas of training and mobility – and are looking forward to our collaboration with the AIU in achieving these objectives.'
This comes after a year-long campaign spearheaded in 2015 by the UK and Indian governments to highlight the existing strong and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship between the two countries in the education sector, particularly in the area of digital technology enabled education and training initiatives and science. The campaign aimed to create a new 21st century framework as partners in education, research and innovation partners, in the global context for the next 10 years.