‘United Kingdom Looking to Collaborate with Universities in Punjab’
While the debate in India continues over the United Kingdom’s visa norms getting stricter by the day and widespread criticism over its proposed “visa bond” scheme remains, British deputy high commissioner to India Davit Lelliott said his country wished to see more of Indian students. “The UK is looking at a range of collaborations with universities in Punjab,” Lelliott told TOI. The British diplomat said the commission was in talks with institutions like the Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, which he visited along with a delegation of Indian and British students, to tie up for collaborative projects and student exchange programmes. “Just as we love to see British students spending time in India, we would like to see more of Indian students coming to the UK,” he said. Lelliott also said that the UK was open to business tie-ups with India and collaborations with Punjab on clean energy programmes. On the UK’s stringent visa norms that have recently led to a decline in the number of Indian students migrating to Britain, the diplomat said the “visa bond” scheme only aimed to target “illegal immigrants”. “The visa bond is a pilot project that applies to only a small proportion of students migrating to the UK. It is only to check high risk visitors and not meant to deter the Indian student population,” Lelliott said. He added that a majority of visitors – the “right” student population – would not have to pay the bond. UK’s recent proposal to levy a £3,000 security bond to visitors from ‘high-risk countries’ to obtain visas has drawn harsh criticism from south Asian countries. Comparing the two nations, Lelliott said being in India was entirely about experiencing the hospitality. “While visiting UK means being outdoors and exploring, it is more of being in homes and experiencing the culture in India,” he said. On his third visit to Panjab University, Lelliott also delivered a talk on business prospects in UK to an audience of British and Indian students. The deputy high commission office in Chandigarh caters to the UT, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.