The Leaders spoke with representatives of Madrid’s universities, the regional government and Alianza 4 Universidades
The representatives of Indian higher education started their day on Wednesday with a working session organised by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) together with Universidad Autónoma (UAM). The two universities are members of Alianza 4 Universidades, which is an SICF patron. The meeting, held at the UC3M’s Getafe campus, was attended by Álvaro Escribano, Vice-Chancellor of International Relations at UC3M; Miguel Herrero, Director General for Universities and Research at Madrid’s Regional Government; Maitrey Kulkarni, Counsellor for Education and Culture at the Embassy of India to Spain and Alonso Dezcallar, Secretary General of the Spain India Council Foundation, as well as other representatives of UC3M and UAM.
The session began with an address by Maitrey Kulkarni: “Our goal for today is to share our experience and our ideas to strengthen relations between the two countries.” Kulkarni emphasised the Indian Embassy’s interest in cooperating in all possible scenarios, explaining that “Indians want to go abroad more and more, and Spain is a great option for them” and adding that this cooperation would also allow “Spaniards to discover the potential of Indian education in areas such as pharmaceutics, technology and engineering.”
Miguel Herrero gave the Madrid regional government’s perspective, stressing its commitment to supporting the international activity of students, teachers and researchers. He claimed that “opportunities to connect like this session with the Indian delegation are a step forward in our work.” He also added that the regional government has been working towards several objectives in recent years, such as a reform that opens the door for students to go to university without an access exam, which in his opinion would remove a major barrier.
Next, Alonso Dezcallar thanked Alianza 4 Universidades for its continued efforts and talked about the Foundation’s work. Regarding the 3rd Indian Leaders Programme, he explained that it focused on higher education precisely because “we are aware of the opportunities in the two countries.” Álvaro Escribano illustrated the mission of Alianza 4 Universidades, a strategic partnership between the four leading Spanish public universities: Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Universidad Pompeu Fabra. Escribano, Vice-Chancellor of International Relations at UC3M, said that “the purpose of Alianza 4 Universidades is to promote the internationalisation of our university community.” He estimated that “the current internationalisation rate is low compared to other countries. In the case of UC3M, it stands at 40%.” In order to improve this figure, Escribano explained that “since it operates as a university association, Alianza 4 Universidades can develop programmes jointly and promote agreements more effectively.” “The advantage is that the network behind us means we are much better positioned,” he added.
The experts in Indian higher education inquired about the Spanish education system and shared their views on cooperation opportunities between the two countries. Among other things, Vidya Yeravdekar, Director of Symbiosis Society, wanted to know what was being done to send students to India, since the institution she works for has cooperation agreements with European universities, but none in Spain. Ajay Pandey, Dean of the Indian Institute of Management, admitted the following: “We should work on joint programmes tailored to students’ needs, as Indians do not see Spain as a priority destination yet.”