The University of Sheffield’s V.C Sir Keith Burnett was in the country recently to forge partnerships to foster research with various Indian institutions, including JNU, IIT Madras, TERI University and the Regional Centre for Biotechnology linked to UNESCO. Susanna Myrtle Lazarus spoke to him about the University, the courses they offer and what’s important beyond academics.
What are the unique courses that you have, and which course is most popular among Indian students?
Our most popular courses for Indian students are the ones traditionally associated with the talents of Indian students — engineering, pure science, and computer science. But increasingly Indian students are also taking up subjects like Law and Architecture, and areas of applied knowledge as there are more opportunities for graduates working in areas such as government policy or at the interface between science and human need.
What are the kinds of facilities that a student attending Sheffield can expect?
Sheffield has outstanding facilities for students. Our student accommodation is new and offers a superb environment for students coming to the U.K. for the first time.
Sheffield is also home to the country's best Students’ Union with officers elected by students each year. Sheffield also has an abundance of national, cultural and religious societies (Indian Students' Society, Hindu Students' Forum, Sikh Students Society, Islamic Circle, Christian societies).
Do you have plans for any MoU’s or campuses in India in the near future?
The University of Sheffield sees a wide range of opportunities for partnership in India at a strategic level, particularly with a focus around biotechnology and the challenges of feeding such a vast nation in the face of climate change, renewable energies and sustainable energy.
We are also very interested in working with partners around the interface of medical science and engineering.
In Sathguru, we have met outstanding potential partners in all these areas. Sathguru already works with Cornell University in the U.S. in a similar way. It is an excellent match for us and we were pleased to formalise this during our recent trip.
What is your take on balancing college work with part time employment?
International students are encouraged to take a balanced view to employment as a student. There is extensive advice available on this from both our international advisory team and our Careers’ Office. Clearly students should not work so many hours that this impacts negatively on their studies. We also encourage students to think about their own potential as entrepreneurs and in developing enterprising solutions.
What do you feel is important to students besides academic pursuits?
University is a unique time in many ways. It allows students to meet friends from all around the world and these friendships often last a lifetime.
For international students there is also the additional benefit that living and studying in another culture gives you a direct insight into that country which you cannot gain any other way.
So I would encourage students to take a really broad view of what it is to be a student. Our university societies offer a vast range of sports and activities, and you can either become deeply involved in one of these or simply ‘have a go’.
Sheffield also has the biggest programme of student volunteering in the U.K., and that is another wonderful way for students to make friends.