Special Correspondent

University will focus more on Indian studies, says Lord Chris Patten

There are 540 Chinese students and 200 Indian students University not to have global campuses National Health Service mostly run by doctors of Indian origin

Bangalore: The not-so-encouraging number of Indian students going to Oxford University seems to be a major concern for the university. As a step to shore up the numbers and other academic interests, Oxford University Chancellor Chris Patten is on a mission to India.

There are 540 Chinese students compared to the 200 students Indians on the campuses of Oxford University and that the university believes needs to be narrowed down.

Expressing these concerns and the steps Oxford has been taking to attract Indian students, Lord Patten said: "As a first step, I am here talking to students, alumni etc." Conceding that Oxford has not been doing much to compete with Ivy League universities, he said: "Fundamentally it would be in our interest to bring in more Indian students."

Oxford University, he said, would focus lot more on Indian studies; set up a research school on Indian business; study international relations with regard to Indian policies; increase collaborations with Indian institutions; offer more scholarships, etc. The Indian Business Centre at the Oxford Business School would move industry captains from here to talk about businesses.

Ruling out Oxford University having global campuses, Lord Patten questioned the model stating that no university would give the same attention overseas as it would do in its home country. Though universities are strapped for cash, they should not lower the quality of education to attract more students. Universities have to be run on business models without being businesses. "The challenge for all of us in Britain to raise educational standards. Education should not be easy. It is most exciting when it is difficult."

Opposing protectionism in business, he said it holds good for higher education too. "It is good to see that employers are increasingly hunting for people of knowledge base and skills and going beyond boundaries in search of them." As for collaborations with India, Lord Patten mentioned that there were several areas where it could take place and one is the field of medical education. "Maybe we should jointly train doctors." Complimenting Indians, he pointed out that the National Health Service is mostly run by doctors of Indian origin, either having studied in Britain or in India.