28 Aug 2020 18:55 IST

Multi-cultural UK beckons students to its universities

With higher education going global, academic partnership between India and the UK finds a new vigour

The United Kingdom is a sought-after avenue for higher education amongst Indian students for a variety of reasons. Be it the shorter duration of Master’s programmes or the wide array of courses available across multiple fields, the United Kingdom is viewed as a knowledge hub for students worldwide.

Recent trends show an upward spike in the number of Indian students opting for the United Kingdom. The country is becoming the foremost study-abroad destination. In 2019 alone, over 37,500 Indian students joined various UK universities. As per the British High Commission, Indians are the fastest growing nationality for student visas.

However, the disruptions caused by the pandemic has led to deliberations in students who aspire to study abroad. The traditional methods of classroom teaching are slowly becoming obsolete amid rising health concerns. Students want to pursue a college degree in institutions that are relooking at old ways of doing things.

Many of the universities in the UK have done a commendable job in responding to the adverse impact caused by the global lockdown. Besides moving classes to online forums, there has been a paradigm shift in the learning pedagogies that are now aimed at providing a holistic educational experience to students. Despite the disruptions caused, Indian students remain on course to take up their higher education in the UK. A report by London’s Universities and College Admission Services (UCAS) found a 32.9 per cent spike in applications from India in 2020 as compared to the previous year.

An educational hub like no other

The standards of teaching and research at UK universities are routinely assessed to ensure they are the best-in-class. The QS World Universities Ranking 2021 includes 90 UK universities with four making it into the global top 10. With world-recognised universities and quality that is government-guaranteed, the degree that you attain from the UK is coveted by universities and employers across the world.

Another reason for the UK being the top destination for education is the multi-cultural environment a student gets to experience. Each year, UK universities welcome about 2,70,000 international students from over 200 nations. With a supportive and nurturing ecosystem, these students are assisted along the way of their educational journey. Students get to meet new people from numerous countries. This helps in building communication skills for the global workforce.

Employability is another top consideration for Indian students to opt for the UK. The latest report by Indian Graduate Outcomes (iGO) highlights that 82 per cent of Indians who have graduated from universities in the UK feel satisfied with their careers. Offering international exposure with academic excellence, a strong research framework and an enabling environment, UK universities are at the forefront of producing some of the most employable applicants in the world.

UK-India collaboration

Giving further impetus to Indian students, the UK government is allowing a two-year post-study work visa. This initiative will go a long way in bolstering the confidence of Indian students in choosing the UK for higher education. The government has also taken measures to ensure that online study amid the pandemic does not disqualify students from the Graduate Visa. Furthermore, a recent study has suggested to increase the duration of the two-year Graduate Visa to four years.

With India undertaking one of the largest reforms of its higher education landscape, the UK is rightly placed in offering qualitative education to Indian students. Building effective collaboration between India and the UK is one of the important steps to ensure improvements in skill-based education and generate more jobs in both the countries. A mutual partnership to share the best practices as well as staff, teaching and research materials will not only lead to better results but bring both the societies closer.

The UK-India collaboration broadens the cultural views and backgrounds which then get incorporated in the research framework leading to comprehensive education models. Students benefit from learning models that reflect diversity and cultural consciousness. Such partnerships also help in improving a university’s reputation and global reach.

Equipping students with the right skills

This is the right time for students to strengthen their learning curve. Amid the closures of coaching centres and other institutions, students can opt for alternate measures to help them better prepare.

For studying abroad, students can opt for language proficiency tests such as PTE Academic, which is the computer- based language test. Giving added momentum to students aiming to study in the UK, it is a fast and fair way for international students and job seekers to prove their English language proficiency.

Countries like UK give preference to vocational qualifications; hence, to quip themselves with right skills and utilise their time, students can pursue courses in any field with online internationally-acclaimed qualifications from renowned institutes. It can be taken up alongside the regular degree to get hands-on skills and enhance employability.

In the present age, the search for knowledge cannot be limited by the constraints of national boundaries. Global collaboration in creation and dissemination of knowledge will facilitate innovative solutions to world problems, sustaining our civilisation in the long run. Since 2006, India and the UK have jointly invested over £75 billion in academic collaborations. In the wake of increasing integration of inter-cultural and global dimensions in higher education, academic partnership between India and the UK finds a new vigour.

(The author is Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Pearson India.)