UK to send students to India for better skills

  • PTI, London
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 02, 2010 14:17 IST

British students could soon sit and study alongside Indians in lecture halls at universities in India as part of plans to make UK students more employable by giving them international experience of living in other countries.

There is much hand-wringing among Britain's education leaders and employers who seek to expand abroad but find that students here do not know the language and other life skills to live and function outside UK.

There are several student exchange programmes allowing British students to spend a period of time to study abroad, particularly in European universities, but there is less enthusiasm among the students.

After returning from the recent visit to India, Universities minister David Willetts wants to develop joint undergraduate and postgraduate courses between UK and Indian universities that will allow British students to spend course time in India.

Currently, more than 40,000 Indian students are studying in Britain, but only 500 travelled to India every year, Willets told the Daily Telegraph.

"The number of students going to India at the moment is embarrassingly low. It is a scandal that only 500 British students currently go to one of the world's fastest growing economies. I want to get it up to the thousands quite soon."

Under his plans, British students would be able to complete mainstream qualifications in India after starting them in Britain.

The subjects in Indian universities of particular interest to Britons are Maths, Science and IT, subjects that have suffered considerably in Britain in recent decades due to lack of students and faculty members.

Willetts' move comes after business leaders claimed that young Britons were increasingly missing out in the workplace because of a poor grasp of foreign languages combined with a lack of experience of living abroad.

A report from the Confederation of British Industry earlier this year found that almost three-quarters of companies were dissatisfied with students' language skills while more than half warned of "shortfalls in their international cultural awareness" – potentially jeopardising trade with countries such as China, India, Russia and Brazil.

"Businesses say there aren't enough students with experience of languages, different cultures and the wider world," Willetts said.

 

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