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Recession doesn’t deter U.K.- bound students

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Ruth Gee, Regional Director, British Council.
Ruth Gee, Regional Director, British Council.

Staff Reporter

Figures show 43 per cent rise in those opting for studies in the U.K.

Bangalore: The economic recession has not had any impact on the number of Indian students studying overseas, especially those opting for a master’s degree in the United Kingdom. In fact, there has been a 43 per cent rise in south Indian students opting for U.K. as their destination for education.

Revealing this to The Hindu on Tuesday, Ruth Gee, Regional Director of British Council for India and Sri Lanka, said: “At times, when it is difficult to find jobs, students are opting for higher studies because the better they are qualified, the easier it is for them to get a job.”

While 11,000 students from south India were given student visas from October 2007 to September 2008, the number rose to 16,000 from October 2008 to September 2009, according to the British Council (South India). “We had done a global market research three years ago and found that the number of students opting for U.K. is higher. The Indian figures are higher than China’s,” Ms. Gee said.

Ms. Gee, who recently took charge as Director, spoke about her plans for British Council in the near future. Brushing aside rumours about closure of more libraries run by the Council, she said: “I am not here to close any libraries. In fact, we are strengthening our existing ones to develop them into cultural centres,” she said, asked to comment on the closure of the British Library in Thiruvananthapuram last year.

“With a presence in nine cities, our network in India is the largest in the world. We have excellent libraries in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune. We are starting an online initiative in Mumbai from January 4 and based on the success we hope to extend it to other cities.”

The British Council’s focus was on reaching those who may not be aware of the Council’s programmes. “We are not an organisation that is for making profit. We are looking at ways to extend our reach and make our presence felt by conducting workshops, exhibitions and contests. We had a recent one on climate change and we have shortlisted 60 youngsters from Bangalore as climate champions and one of them is in Copenhagen now,” she pointed out.

To raise awareness about the importance of cultural relations and to mark its 75th anniversary, the Council recently chose 75 books with a British connection “and released them into the wild”. “We want each of these books to travel around the city, country and even the world to create book chains that link people together. The readers will pass on the book in their circles and the movement will be tracked online,” Ms. Gee added.

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