Cities do have a role to play when a student makes a plan to study abroad. A survey released by London Universities International Partnerships (LUIP) of 300 Indian alumni and current students at institutes in the UK Capital revealed that 62% of respondents chose to come to London because of the quality of teaching and 88% were attracted to the excellent quality of research.
“That’s not all, many Indian parents tell me they want their children to study in the city as most of their friends and relatives live there. For some of them it’s as if the UK borders do not extend beyond London,” quips Lord Swraj Paul, NRI businessman, who is also the Chancellor of the University of Westminster.
Those surveyed come from different institutions in the LUIP partnership, which include School of Oriental and African Studies, University of Westminster, University of the Arts London, Middlesex University and Queen Mary, University of London. About 24% and 19% survey respondents belong to Mumbai and Delhi (NCR), respectively, while the remaining come from cities and towns all across India.
As for choice of academic disciplines, 31% respondents have studied business, 26% studied science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), 19% studied arts and humanities, 17% studied social sciences, and 6% studied health and medicine. Many have studied at the postgraduate master’s level.
Salaries and job opportunities vary. Fifteen per cent alumni are in senior management; 39% in middle management; 31% in junior management; and 15% at entry level. About 34% earn up to Rs. 0.5 lakh a month; 25% currently earn Rs. 0.5-0.75lakh a month. About 20% report to earning more than Rs. 1.5 lakh a month. Seventy four per cent of alumni polled currently reside in India, and 16% in the UK.
Despite the financial crisis in the West, Britain is ahead of many Western countries, including the US, in terms of recovery. Students should be reassured “as that means more jobs are being created now – there is a better climate for jobs in the UK.”
How can the Indian students’ interests be safeguarded? “The UK government is aware of the abuses and the British high commissions are equipped to give the right advice. However, we know some people use education as a pretext to get a visa to the UK and those who do so dig their own grave. It is easy to get the list of recognised institutes from the high commission or the British Council,” advises Sir Paul.
Which country does he prefer? The US (MIT is his alma mater) or UK? Lord Paul says it is the international experience that counts. “Even in the '50s, what mattered in MIT was not just the quality of programmes, but the interactions with other students from various countries. The biggest thing international education can teach you is how to learn to live with others.
“I did not come to the UK in the happiest of circumstances (it was for the treatment of his ailing daughter), but I felt at home here,” Lord Paul concludes.
‘A welcoming city’
Where life in London is concerned, 89% of respondents say they felt welcomed or very welcomed on arrival at university. Life experience is ranked by 73% of respondents as a highly significant reason for Indians to study in London.
About 67% also like “the encouragement of independent thinking” found in London universities; and 63% give the thumbs up to global connections and networking.
51% of those polled agree that they expect Indian graduates who have studied in London to earn higher salaries than their peers who did not study abroad