Dame Asha Khemka, High Commissioner Ranjan Mathai and other stalwarts explore educational standards in UK and India

Influential Indians in the UK discuss UK-India ties and draw academic similarities between the two

Archana Venkatraman

The High Commissioner of India to the UK, Ranjan Mathai, visited West Nottinghamshire College to meet Dame Asha Khemka. Mathai and Dame Asha, along with First Secretary (Education) Madhu Sethi and the Consul General of India in Birmingham, Jitendra Kumar Sharma discussed educational standards and expertise from across the globe.

(l-r) Mr Jitendra Kumar Sharma, His Excellency Mr Ranjan Mathai, Dame Asha Khemka, Mrs Madhu Sethi and Andrew King

 Dame Asha Khemka, originally from Bihar and now the multi award-winning NRI educationalist, principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College welcomed the High Commissioner to lead the round-table discussion around education with members of college’s executive team and governors, which include Mansfield’s newly-elected Executive Mayor, Kate Allsopp. Mathai also met with business leaders who have curriculum links with the college including Midlands Aerospace and Center Parcs.

The stalwarts discussed the impact of the relations between the UK and India and how business and education are developing rapidly in India, whose government has ambitions to train over 500 million people in vocational skills by 2022.

During his tour of the Mansfield-based college, Mathai was interviewed by 17-year-old media production student, Connie Smith, for the students’ weekly online television programme, the Create TV show, which saw him being asked for his views on the recent UK parliamentary elections before talking about his role as Indian High Commissioner.

In the Ministry of External Affairs of India, Mathai has held several key positions, and was Indian Foreign Secretary from August 2011 to July 2013. He took up his current assignment as the High Commissioner of India to the UK in December 2013.

His visit also included a tour of the college’s engineering and construction campuses, where he saw students working in their vocational specialisms as well as meeting with tutors and employers.

He concluded his tour with a meeting with bosses at college subsidiary company, bksb, which tailor-makes software packages in literacy and numeracy for the global market. Earlier this year bksb opened a new headquarters in Chandigarh as part of its ongoing expansion, and operates in India as ‘Skills Anytime’.

Mathai said he was "impressed by the industrial training in engineering and construction and the quality of work" at the college.”

“In India, we have similar institutes of training in these areas. We can certainly learn from the college, in particular how well connected you are with employers, while we move towards training millions of citizens in vocational subjects," he added.

“It’s great to see close relations with businesses who help ensure the course content and the work undertaken is constantly updated to meet employers’ needs. When apprentices come in, they can already be confidant that they have great skills which are attractive to employers.”

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