Good quality academic infrastructure in developed countries attracts student talent from across the world. Sanchayan Bhattacharjee looks at the advantages, opportunities and challenges of studying in the United Kingdom (UK).
Studying abroad has always been a popular choice for Indian students from an academic, research or even professional point of view. The UK finds significant mention among different academic destinations for different graduate as well as post graduate programmes.
“We have around 24,000 students from India, studying in the UK. Thanks to the cultural connectivity between the two countries, Indian students settle down much faster as compared to others,” says Sharon Memis, director, West India, British Council.
As per the National Student Survey, a census of nearly half a million students across the UK, 86 per cent of postgraduate students are satisfied with their respective courses as a whole. This positive perception finds voice among students in India too.
“Teaching oriented programmes, short term degrees, easily accessible for parents are some of the reasons that make UK a favourable place to study,” says Vinayak Kamat, director, GEEBEE, an overseas education consultancy.
While technical and business programmes in the UK remain the most popular among Indian students, according to Sally Wade, director, Sheffield Institute of Arts, Sheffield Hallam University, arts courses are also gaining popularity. “There has been an increased interest in creative disciplines like Fashion, Design, Product Design, Fashion Management, Communication, Film and Media production,” she says.
Despite the popularity of diverse education programmes, the visa restrictions in UK after completing education, make it difficult to secure employment in the region as compared to other countries. In order to get a work permit post education, students must secure a job with a salary of minimum 20,000 pounds.
“Experienced students or ones from specialised programmes have a greater chance of getting employed,” says Kamat. However, as Memis mentions, a number of schemes have been introduced which allows talented post graduate students to extend their stay. “A new visa has been introduced for entrepreneurs that allows graduates who have innovative ideas to stay in the UK to develop them,” she says. In addition, different Universities also tailor their programmes and assist students to improve employment prospects. “We have a dedicated Careers and Employability Centre which helps students in CV writing, preparing for interviews and group discussions. Also courses are industry and sector-oriented and prepares students for specific job roles,” says Wade.
Another hurdle for Indian students studying in the UK is the finances. “Arts students, face major budget constraints,” says Kamat. However, there are an increasing number of scholarships which look to share, if not completely shoulder the financial burden of Indian students.
According to Memis, over the next two years, the UK government’s global scholarship programme will receive quadruple funding from the government for Indian students, making India the largest recipient. “There are a variety of funding structures for local and international students.
British universities remain competitive in their fees and quality of education. Over 750 scholarships have been offered to Indian students in just two years,” she says.
Despite the financial and employment hurdles, experts concur that the academic merit and overall character of Indian students often works in their favour. “Indian students are hardworking, professional, and have a strong academic foundation, from their undergraduate degrees in India,” signs off Wade.