BRICS countries recognise the importance of cooperation in the field of education to tackle challenges such as global health and economic challenges. Also, since the countries have committed towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) which aims to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’, BRICS countries have taken several initiatives to deepen their cooperation in the field of education.
BRICS Education Ministers met for the first time on 05 November 2013, in Paris, France, on the margins of the 37th session of the UNESCO General Conference wherein they discussed partnerships and knowledge exchanges on Technical Vocational Education and Training, portability and transferability of qualifications between BRICS countries.
Prime Minister Modi at the 6th BRICS Summit in Brazil on 15-16 July 2014 called for enhanced cooperation among BRICS countries in the area of Education.
In their 2nd meeting held on 2-3 March 2015 in Brasilia, the ministers discussed on the idea of setting up BRICS University campuses in each BRICS country virtually as well as through intensive student, faculty and research collaboration
Also, the BRICS countries supported for the establishment of a Working Group to work out the modalities of a BRICS Network University (BNU), which was included in the Brasilia Declaration. BNU is an educational project aimed at developing, preferentially, bilateral/multilateral short-term joint training, master’s and PhD programmes along with joint research projects in various knowledge fields according to common standards and quality criteria.
The BNU project was set into motion by signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for establishment of BRICS Network University on November 18, 2015 in Moscow by Ministers of Education of BRICS countries.
The BRICS MoU on Network University envisages co-operation among several universities of BRICS nations in six thematic areas viz., Energy; Computer science and information security; BRICS studies; Ecology and climate change; Water resources and pollution treatment and Economics.
Currently, the consortium includes 56 leading universities from the 5 BRICS countries.
During the 7th meeting of BRICS Ministers on Education on 21 October 2020, hosted virtually by Russia, the ministers have declared, amongst other things, to strengthen and deepen the BRICS Network University cooperation aimed at building members’ capabilities to respond to challenges and opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.