First of all I want to apologise that we’ve planned today’s event so badly that it clashes with today’s cricket semi-final. But I do want to thank you all for coming.
As UK alumni, you’re part of a long tradition that lies at the heart of the partnership between our two countries. Indians have been training in the UK since time immemorial, including of course most of the country’s founding fathers.
We care about our alumni. In many ways, you are our greatest export. Because you have studied in the best education system. Because you have imbued our cultures and values and brought them back home to India. And because in the process you have changed the institutions that you attended, and thereby Britain as a whole, contributing to its strong multiculturalism. This event is about connecting with you more than we have in the past. We want it to be useful but we also want you to tell us how we should engage with you.
It’s great to see so many UK alumni, entrepreneurs, companies, researchers and students gathered here. The fact that you are all leaders in so many diverse fields is an opportunity for us as we seek to extend our influence in Kerala along with our sister organisation the British Council.
The UK education story is a strong one. Four of the world’s top 6 universities are in the UK, and 5 out of the top 10 by employability. A UK degree is valued by employers across the globe and is a springboard for a successful career. Indian students form an important segment of international students studying in the UK and we’re keen to encourage greater student mobility and exchanges between India and the UK. Over 2,50,000 Indians have studied in the UK over the last 10 years.
UK universities are doing more research than they have ever done before with partner institutions. New catapult centres bring together top universities and private sector institutions to achieve high-value real-world innovation. The university sector is leading an education revolution. There has never been a better time to study in the UK, including through UK government scholarships. This year there are an unprecedented 700 scholarships for Indian students to study in the UK - our largest scheme in the world - including over a 130 of our flagship Chevening Scholarships which Fellowships Programme has brought over 42,000 potential leaders from 130 countries to the UK and 400 new part scholarship GREAT awards available worth over £1.5 million.
I can’t come to Kerala without saying a word about entrepreneurship. The UK is supporting entrepreneurs through a variety of initiatives including the Global Entrepreneurship Programme which offers budding start-ups mentorship from successful business leaders and the Sirius Programme which helps start-ups with practical support including finance. The newest addition is an exciting new initiative called GREAT Tech Rocketships to UK, to identify and help develop the next generation of fast-growing technology companies. This national competition concluded just a few weeks ago. All 5 winners were from the South including 1 from Kochi.
Finally a word about today’s event. It shouldn’t be about us talking at you. We want it to be inter-active and to hear from you how we can best work with you for the long-term. We hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership.