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UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has unveiled two initiatives to help secure the UK’s position as a leader in international education: The second phase of the Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education (PMI), aiming to attract international students to the UK, and the UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI), which aims to improve partnerships between the UK and India in the field of higher education and research. The UK government, together with the British Council and the education sector, is supporting both programmes with 27 million pounds for the next two years. Corporations such as BP, BAE Systems, GlaxoSmithKline and Shell have an important role in the UK-India Education Research Initiative, each offering support of around one million pounds.
The second phase of the PMI sets the target to attract an additional 100 000 international students to the UK. This is more ambitious than the first phase, which, when launched by Tony Blair in 1999, was aiming to increase the number of international students by 75 000 by the year 2005, and ended up reaching an extra 116 000. Besides increasing students numbers, the goal of the second phase is also to increase joint degrees, staff and student exchanges and carry out more shared research projects: “We want UK education to become genuinely international”, said Tony Blair.