The Irish alternative
A representative of Queen’s University, Belfast, talks about offerings for Indian students report Syed Amir Ali Hashmi
Where do you think Queen’s University can fit in the options available to Indian students?
The most important thing to bear in mind is that Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) offers a unique opportunity to the students in India. Given that 66 per cent of Indians are below 35, the chances of each student getting the first choice in which they want to major, becomes harder. The average students have a remote chance of getting into good universities and first-choice institutes. Private universities demand high fees for sciences, engineering and medicine.
QUB is a traditional university, which covers the breadth of sciences, social sciences, humanities and information and technology. It is time to recognise that the majority of students want to get into management and engineering. QUB is in a position to provide opportunities in not just STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) but also in the areas of applied sciences (scientific archaeology, pharmacy and public health, electronics, communication and IT). The added value is that the Queen’s gives you a well-rounded balanced degree that helps in finding jobs the world over and also good salaries.
Getting a degree from QUB is cheaper than other places. The Indian government has decided to reduce the interest on education loans, which will help by giving a longer gestation period for the repayment of loans.
QUB is a part of the Russell Group (of 19 UK universities) and the validation of a degree from here is significant. QUB has also been voted as the Entrepreneurial University of the year by Times Higher Education.
As a university, QUB promotes entrepreneurship among students. It has degree programmes, with entrepreneurship embedded in their curricula.
Here students are awarded for good entrepre- neurial ideas. Further, QUB is a corridor to Europe and offers a range of training, skills and degree(s) that is relevant across the globe. Indeed, QUB alumni are making meaningful contributions across the world, including in India.
What are your plans to attract Indian students?
Though QUB was a late starter, to its credit it must be stated that we have covered a lot of ground. We offer nationally and internationally recognised modules and curriculum. China, India and the US are the key markets for us. Towards India, our target is to open doors to the students. This is done primarily by a scheme called the Queen’s India Welcome Scheme (QIWS), which was started three years ago to bring the best Indian students to Queen’s. We started at Bengal Engineering and Science University and invited them to come to QUB for three weeks and get hands-on experience on practical projects in the areas of electronics, communication and IT. We have now extended it to the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Madras Christian College, and the University of Hyderabad. We hope to expand it to other disciplines in the future. The QIWS initiative has been extended to institutions which have a memorandum of understanding (with Queen’s). Besides, we also attract students for PhD programmes in various schools/departments.
In addition, we invite key Indian academics with international reputation to participate in the Queen’s-India Lecture Series. We have been fortunate to have the privilege of learning from professors Romila Thapar, Deepak Nayyar, Rajeev Bhargava, Harish Trivedi, Gautam Desiraju as well as from APJ Abdul Kalam.
We have just begun to promote split-site PhD programmes on key research projects of international and national relevance. In this process, we are also promoting India among Queen’s students and staff. We have a programme as part of which we send Queen’s PhD staff and students to our partner institutes in India, both at the postgraduate and undergraduate levels.
Which programmes have scholarship options?
All schools/ departments advertise their research priorities on their respective websites. The best candidates are selected based on their competence and projects. They have to compete with other international students to secure a place.
Which are the major areas where a student can apply?
There are major investments in cancer research, vascular sciences, pharmacy, engineering (arsenic-related specialisation), studies on India, historical geography, music technology (Sonic Arts Centre), mechanical, chemical and aeronautical engineering, plasma physics, scientific archaeology, politics and international relations, drama, languages and performing arts, and English literature, to name a few.
How does the university help students get acclimatised to Belfast?
We have an induction programme for all international students joining Queen’s, where we introduce students to the life and culture of Northern Ireland. We have provided excellent accommodation to international postgraduate and undergraduate students at the Elms Village Court and in other Queen’s related accommodation. Moreover, Indian students and staff have the opportunity to participate in diverse cultural programmes in Northern Ireland.
Dr M. Satish Kumar, director, QUB-India Initiative, School of Geography, Archaeology & Palaeoecology, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland Interviewed by Syed Amir Hashmi