Washington: Terming the Indo-US Higher Education Summit as a "very big deal" and a "high water-mark" in bilateral ties, senior officials said it will help increase academic exchanges and lay a roadmap for institutional framework for enhanced cooperation.

"This education summit is a very big deal. This goes to our continuing effort to increase student-student exchanges-Americans living, learning, and working in India, Indians living, learning, and working here," State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said here.

Nuland added that while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal would address the summit on October 13, a separate bilateral meeting has not yet been planned.

Speaking at an event ahead of the summit here, Sibal expressed optimism that the education meet will be successful and will open doors for greater collaboration on research and technology exchanges between Indian and American universities.

India's Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao would also address the summit on October 13.

Rao said that education is a key priority of the Indian government as India continues on its path towards socio-economic transformation. They were talking at an event organised by Centre for Strategic Studies (CSIS) and FICCI.

She said unless adequate educational opportunities are provided for India's young citizens, "the demographic advantage that we have will not be translated into demographic dividend."

The summit will be a "high water-mark" in Indo-US cooperation in the field of education and will lay down a roadmap and institutional framework for further growth and contribute significantly to strengthening the overall bilateral partnership, Rao added.

Noting that India-US relations are better on Wednesday than they have ever been in the last six decades, Rao said the higher education summit "is the result of recognition by our leaders that the future potential of our partnership lies in the hands of the next generation in both countries".

The State Department had said earlier that the higher education summit will provide a platform for government and education leaders from both countries to outline their vision for 21st century education engagement to a broad cross-section of academics, university presidents and administrators, non -governmental organisations and foundation executives.

The Summit will also highlight and emphasise the avenues through which the higher education communities in the United States and India have engaged and can further engage in expanded cooperation, it said.

The day long education summit on October 13, to be co-chaired by Sibal and Clinton, will see participation by over 300 higher education leaders, government and private sector representatives.

Panel discussions would focus on areas like faculty collaboration, academia-industry linkages and sustainable partnerships in teaching and research.

(Agencies)