Sun, Dec 11, 2016 | updated 03:31 PM IST

Promoting educational ties, key aspect of US-India partnership, says Richard Verma

Updated: Nov 15, 2016 18:48 IST

New Delhi [India], Nov.15 (ANI): United States Ambassador Richard Verma on Tuesday said that it is a matter of pride for him to know that India, and specially its students, continues to see his country as viable place of achieving academic excellence and opportunity.

Speaking at the launch the 2016 Open Doors report in India, Ambassador Verma said that one of his highest priorities is to promote increased educational ties between the United States and India.

"That includes promoting studies in the United States, facilitating partnerships between U.S. and Indian higher education institutions, and advocating for increased opportunities for U.S. universities in India. Both of our countries benefit immensely from being open and tolerant societies and our interaction with the larger world, and Open Doors is a great testament to that fundamental fact," he said.

"Since my arrival, I have looked forward to the release of the Open Doors report each year as the number of Indian students in the United States has continued to break all records. Last year, we had record percentage growth and a record number of Indian students in the United States. This year we topped even that. For the 2015-2016 academic year, we had a record number - 166,000 - and a record increase - approximately 33,000 - in the number of Indian students in the United States. That is outstanding," he added.

Saying each student that travels to the United States for studies contributes and strengthens the people-to-people ties between the two countries, Verma said "The number of Indian students increased across all levels: undergraduate, graduate, and Optional Practical Training. I was especially pleased to see the increase in the number of Indian undergraduate students in the United States. The significant increase in Indian students in the United States represented more than half of the total growth in foreign students in our country helping to put that number over the one million mark for the first time."

He also admitted that the number of American students in India has remained relatively flat, but hoped that with efforts such as the "Passport to India" initiative, including its Massive Open Online Course on "The Importance of India" that he had launched earlier this year, would lead to more American students coming to India.

"We are focused on promoting student flows between our two countries; we are also working to create a policy and regulatory environment in which institutional partnerships can flourish," he said.

"The Indian government has announced a series of steps, such as the draft National Education policy as well as regulations on the establishment of World Class universities, which promise to increase the extent of foreign collaborations. We look forward to the government's continued work in these areas and stand ready to partner with them on this and other higher education initiatives," he added.

He said that behind each student number in this Open Doors report is an individual story - such as that which brought his family to the United States and him back to India - opening up a world of possibility.

"My father was a young academic researcher who went to the United States on an academic scholarship and he ended up staying and teaching in the United States for over four decades, and bringing our family to Pennsylvania to become proud citizens of the U.S. Who knows what stories will be written in the future that owe themselves to an international education," he said.

"Today, we celebrate the record number of students in the United States and look forward to their contributions to the strengthening relationship between our two countries," he said. (ANI)