Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor has joined a Prime Minister-led business and skills mission to India in a bid to help improve Wales’s educational links.

Professor Colin Riordan will join colleagues from universities across the UK and the UK Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, as part of the high-profile visit, which has been organised jointly by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the department for Business Industry and Skills (BIS).

“Cardiff University has long-standing links with India, including many successful research collaborations, and has recruited students from India for decades,” said Professor Colin Riordan, speaking ahead of the visit.

“This trip is an opportunity to help promote our engagement with Indian businesses and develop internships and work opportunities both for Cardiff graduates from India upon their return as well as for home students to spend time studying or working in India.

“Cardiff is also exploring options for an office in India to open in 2013 to develop more partnerships and links with alumni as well as businesses and student recruitment opportunities.”

India is the second highest provider of international students to the UK, with around 30,000 currently studying in the UK.

The Indian Government is currently seeking a huge expansion of both capacity and quality at all levels of their education system and by 2020 aims to create 40 million new university places and 11,000 new secondary schools.

Professor Riordan hopes the visit will help boost Wales’s ability to meet this growing demand.

One of many partnerships that Professor Riordan is keen to promote during his visit is Cardiff University’s new on-line collaboration.

Futurelearn was set up by the Open University (OU) in December 2012. Including the OU, it has 12 partner universities, all working to develop open online courses (MOOCs). It is the first UK MOOC platform to partner with multiple top-ranking UK universities.

“Cardiff is already a global player, with an academic community recognised for its international distinction and impact,” added Professor Riordan.

“We’re pleased to partner with the Open University as one of the first universities to join Futurelearn and to lead the sector in Wales.

“This exciting initiative provides a real opportunity to extend access to our high-quality education experience, free and open to all.”

During the visit, delegates will meet a variety of key figures from Indian industry and education in the hope to raise awareness of Cardiff and Wales.