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Oxford to woo Indian students

Lord Patten, chancellor of Oxford University, will be in India next month, reports Nabanita Sircar.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 19:10 IST

Lord Patten, chancellor of Oxford University, will visit India next month as part of an effort to attract the brightest students from around the world to help the university compete with the better-funded US Ivy League colleges.

"Globalisation doesn't end at the Thames Valley," the former European commissioner and governor of Hong Kong told the Financial Times in an interview. "We have to fight very hard to keep our position in the world league table to stay up there with Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and MIT."

During his visit to Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi, Lord Patten will meet Oxford alumni, speak at a Saïd Business School seminar and discussed ways of raising more money for bursaries for Indian students.

He said there were about 17,000 Indian students in Britain, compared with nearly 80,000 in the US. He said, "I hope it will be the first of several visits to India and China over the next few years. I don't think a serious university can do without a properly thought-through strategy for China and India."

He said Oxford had twice as many Chinese as Indian students. "One of the problems in India is that we have a rather conservative, stuffy image. People don't realise the flexibility and modernity of our courses."

Cambridge University said on Sunday that it too was committed to attracting the best international students, although its focus has recently been more on China than India.

Lord Patten, who will also co-chair his first annual meeting of the UK-India Round Table in Goa, spoke of a crisis in higher education and research in Europe. "We're falling further and further behind the US," he warned. The US spent twice as much as Europe on its universities and on research and development, he said.

"Ten years ago, 50 per cent of European students who went to America to do PhDs came back. Last year the figure was 25 per cent. None of us should want to be part of creating an ignorance-based economy."

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 19:10 IST