As we reach the end of the five-year term of the Modi government, there is no dearth of retrospectives reviewing our relationship through the twin prisms of our security relations and our economic relations. However, while our economic and security ties have ups and downs, our people-to-people connectivity remains a strength. This is particularly true when it comes to cooperation in higher education. But so far, higher education ties have mostly been a collection of decisions by individual institutions. This may change due to a new project funded by the U.S. Department of State, called Partnership 2020.
There are several government-led programs to stimulate higher education cooperation. Examples include great joint research projects funded by the National Science Foundation over the years. Or newer projects supported by the India-U.S. Science & Technology Forum. And the Fulbright-Nehru awards for students, academics or professionals administered by the U.S.-India Education Foundation. However, notable gaps remain, such as the relative dearth of American students studying in India.
We at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Wadhwani Chair are pleased to have been selected to partner with the State Department to look at ways to expand higher education cooperation. Through Partnership 2020, UNO and CSIS will conduct multiple activities:
- Assess the current level of cooperation between American and Indian institutions of higher education through a survey and share the information on our website.
- Distribute at least $600,000 in grants for expanding partnerships between American and Indian institutions, with a focus on helping build partnerships between institutions outside the largest cities in each nation.
- Prepare a list of policy recommendations for the governments that can unlock more cross-border partnerships.
- Prepare a “best practice” guide for institutions looking to create cross-border partnerships.
The first and second phases of the project are already underway. In fact, we urge members of the academic community with a U.S.-India higher education partnership to log in to the survey site to add their partnership. Being part of this list can open the door for funding notices and other opportunities. And American universities can already apply for grants under Partnership 2020; simply go to the grant opportunity website to see details and the application procedure.
At the end of this project, the various components of Partnership 2020 will help policymakers in both nations determine ways they can augment this vital component of our relationship.
Mr. Richard M. Rossow holds the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Dr. Patrick McNamara is Director of International Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Mr. Sher Jan Ahmadzai is Director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.