New Delhi: The first-ever Indo-French Knowledge Summit ended successfully here on Sunday with a landmark agreement on mutual recognition of educational qualifications between the two countries and a record 15 other MoUs signed between universities and research institutions on joint initiatives and partnerships.
The two-day summit, which coincided with the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, was organised by the French Embassy in India and co-hosted by the Human Resource Development Ministry.
More than 350 people from nearly 80 Indian and 70 French institutions, along with key enterprises, participated in the summit which also received the support of the Science and Technology Ministry, Campus France and the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Addressing the participants at the closing session, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said the agreement will go a long way in boosting the educational relationship between the two countries.
"It will encourage mobility of students from both the countries by facilitating possibilities for them to continue their studies in the other country and would also promote excellence in higher education through cooperation, university and research exchanges."
He said the government will soon launch its 'Study in India' Programme to encourage more foreign students to take up education in India.
"Currently there are 47,000 foreign students learning in India and by 2022 we will have at least 100,000," he said.
Javadekar also mooted the idea that both the countries should look at the possibility of allowing professionals to practice in each other's country on reciprocity basis.
He said that a Joint Working Group between the two countries will be formed to take ahead the bilateral cooperation in education and research. The JWG will meet in September.
In her remarks, French Minister of Higher Education and Research and Innovation Frederique Vidal said education can become an effective weapon to fight poverty and inequality.
"For a meaningful cooperation, there is a need to simplify administrative procedures to increase student mobility, to address all academic issues to promote cooperation as well as foster new partnerships between institutions for the future," she said.
She said the recommendations by Round Table Chairs will guide the Indo-French cooperation in education and research over the next five years.
A Franco-Indian Education Trust was also unveiled at the closing session. It will be funded by the Indian industry and French companies in India to offer educational scholarships and merit-based financial support to Indian students.
The Knowledge Summit is the first Franco-Indian Summit for university, scientific and technology cooperation with the broader objective to design a roadmap of cooperation between the two countries for the next five years, in collaboration with companies.
The event offered a common moment for a common goal -- increase student mobility, enlarge Research & Development collaborations and link campuses to companies by focusing on employability.
Earlier in the day, an Indian delegation, led by Javadekar, and Vidal held a meeting where they discussed efforts to deepen science and technology, engagement between higher educational institutions of India and France, Joint Action Plan for cooperation between these institutions in Joint Ph.D. programme (twinning), student exchange, joint supervision of doctoral programmes, collaborative research, semester teaching assignments and more involvement of French Academicians under GIAN programme.