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UK preferred, but Indians seriously exploring EU study destinations

The European Union has launched a revised and larger programme called Erasmus+ to provide scholarships to Indian students

education Updated: Sep 30, 2016 22:27 IST
Gauri Kohli
European Union

Tomasz Kozlowski, European Union ambassador to India(Handout image)

With almost 50,000 Indian students in the European Union (EU) right now, Europe is the second preferred destination of Indian students wishing to study abroad. Tomasz Kozlowski, European Union ambassador to India, talks about funding programmes for Indians and EU’s plan to collaborate with the Indian government and other agencies. Excerpts from an interview.

Why EU as a study destination for Indian students?

Europe has 4,000 higher education institutions, one-fifth of all the world’s universities, from top-level research establishments to small, specialised colleges, hosting about one-fifth of the world’s students (20 million) and 1.5 million teachers and academics. Every year, 1.5 million international students come to Europe, of which around 50,000 are Indians at present. More than 12,500 undergraduate programmes are now taught in English in all the EU countries.

Tell us about the ongoing EU education fair?

Students aspiring to study in Europe will get to interact with representatives from universities from across the region. They can also find out about scholarship and other funding opportunities available in the EU.

How will funding options for Indian students be affected after Brexit?

There will be no immediate impact on scholarships offered through EU programmes to Indian students.

Which scholarships and fellowships are currently on offer for Indian students for EU?

Under funding from EU, more than 4,000 Indian students have benefited from Erasmus grants to study in Europe in recent years. About 1,700 grants have been given to Indian researchers under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Scholarships to teach and research in Europe. Recently, the EU has launched a revised and larger programme called Erasmus+ to provide scholarships to students across the world, including India. The latest batch of Erasmus scholarships from Indian students this summer has sponsored 135 students and scholars, from 17 Indian states, now based in 20 European countries.

Which are the most popular countries among Indian students in EU?

With almost 50,000 Indian students in the EU right now, Europe is the second preferred destination of Indian students wishing to study abroad. While the UK has traditionally been the preferred destination for Indians, now they are exploring many European countries such as Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Denmark.

Does the EU plan to collaborate with the Indian government, other agencies to boost higher education and research?

EU and India have a long history of cooperation in higher education. At the 13th EU-India Summit in March 2016, Prime Minister Modi, European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker underlined higher education as an important area of cooperation and agreed to strengthen such cooperation and increase exchanges.

Collaboration between the EU and India in promoting exchanges of students, researchers and teachers has been on a rise. On the European side, the programme Erasmus+ has a budget of €1.68 billion to support the international mobility of 135,000 university students and teachers in non-EU countries, including India. EU member states have many such programmes of their own, as the increasing popularity of education fairs has shown. EU also funds capacity-building projects under Erasmus+. In 2015-16, Indian institutions received such grants for two capacity building projects. So far this year, 36 Indian institutions from 12 states have participated in 10 different projects, partnering with 37 European universities from 18 European states.

The EU has financed 15 projects of EU/India study centres that have benefited 14 Indian universities and 12 European universities and their students. Recently, the EU has also been collaborating with India and sharing its experience of building a more comparable, compatible and coherent system for higher education in Europe.

For research, the EU has the Horizon 2020 programme which provides funding for research activities in all domains and with all countries of the world including India. One part of the programme is designed to fund exchanges of researchers and innovation experts. The EU is also going to partner the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) for its upcoming Higher Education Summit.