University of Birmingham and IIT Madras create Zanzibar student exchanges

The University of Birmingham and IIT Madras are joining forces to allow outstanding scholars to take advantage of education opportunities in the UK and Dubai

Dipankar Chakraborty and Professor Raghunathan Rengaswamy holding the signed agreement

Dipankar Chakraborty, University of Birmingham Regional Director – South Asia and Middle East, and Professor Raghunathan Rengaswamy, Dean (Global Engagement), IIT Madras

Students are set to benefit from a new exchange programme between the University of Birmingham’s UK and Dubai campuses and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) Zanzibar Campus - the first IIT located outside India.

The partnership will allow outstanding scholars – whether undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral students - to do coursework and research at both University of Birmingham campuses during their studies at the Zanzibar campus.

There will also be Study Abroad opportunities for Zanzibar-based undergraduate students to spend up to a year at the University of Birmingham – gaining coursework credits that will count towards gaining their IIT Madras degree.

Representatives from the universities signed the agreement in a special ceremony in the presence of Dharmendra Pradhan, Honourable Union and Minister of Education, Dr Subhash Sarkar, Honourable Minister of State, and other senior officials from the Government of India’s Ministry of Education.

Together with our new Joint Masters programme, this exciting new student exchange opportunity illustrates how the relationship between IIT Madras and the University of Birmingham is fast developing.

Professor Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International), University of Birmingham

The agreement follows the universities’ founding of a Joint Masters programme in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, which has just welcomed the first cohort of students earlier this week, to Chennai.

Professor Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Birmingham, commented: “Together with our new Joint Masters programme, this exciting new student exchange opportunity illustrates how the relationship between IIT Madras and the University of Birmingham is fast developing.

“We look forward to welcoming students from the new IIT Madras Zanzibar Campus to our beautiful, leafy Birmingham campus and our iconic Dubai facilities as more education and research collaborations emerge as our two universities work ever closer together.”

IITM Zanzibar opens its doors in October 2023 with a first cohort of 50 undergraduate students and 20 Master’s students. In the first year, the institution will offer data science and artificial intelligence courses.

The institute will operate out of a temporary campus in Bweleo district of Zanzibar, while the permanent campus spread over 200 acres will be located in Zanzibar Island and be ready by 2026.

Professor Raghunathan Rengaswamy, Dean (Global Engagement), IIT Madras, commented: “We are thrilled with our comprehensive relationship with University of Birmingham, which is multifaceted, covering many academic programs and larger research engagements.”

Professor Preeti Aghalayam, Advisor, Global Academic Programs, IIT Madras will become director-in-charge for IIT Madras in Zanzibar - the first ever woman to be an IIT director. She commented: “The support from the University of Birmingham, as we take this ambitious step with an international campus, is truly heart-warming. We are excited by the opportunities this partnership opens for our students.”

Notes for editors

For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

MEDIA CONTACT FOR IIT MADRAS Madras Media Cell on +44 2257 9785

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 8,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The India Institute was established in January 2018 and brings Birmingham and India closer together to deliver impactful research, create innovative education initiatives and extend the University’s influence across the globe.
  • The University’s relationship with India began in 1909 with the first cohort of Indian students attending the University to study for degrees in Mining and Commerce. Since then, the University has provided education to many outstanding Indian alumni.
  • Experts from Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) have already worked with the National Rail and Transport Institute of India (NRTI) to establish a joint MSc programme in Railway Engineering.


  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) was established in 1959 by the Government of India as an ‘Institute of National Importance.’ The activities of the Institute in various fields of Science and Technology are carried out in 16 academic departments and several advanced interdisciplinary research academic centres. The Institute offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes leading to B.Tech., M.Sc., M.B.A., M.Tech., M.S., and Ph.D., degrees in a variety of specialisations. IITM is a residential institute with more than 600 faculty and 9,500 students. Students from 18 countries are enrolled here. IITM fosters an active entrepreneurial culture with strong curricular support and through the IITM Incubation Cell.
  • Recognized as an Institution of Eminence (IoE) in 2019, IITM has been ranked No.1 in the ‘Overall’ Category for the fourth consecutive year in India Ranking 2022 released by National Institutional Ranking Framework, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India. The Institute has also been ranked No.1 in the ‘Engineering Institutions’ category in the same Rankings for seven consecutive years – from 2016 to 2022. It was also adjudged as the ‘Top innovative Institution’ in the country in Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) in 2019, 2020 and 2021. ARIIA Ranking was launched by the Innovation Cell of Ministry of Education.