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U.K. woos Indian students

Staff Reporter
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370 scholarships offered during ‘GREAT Britain’ campaign

Visitors at the launch of Education U.K. exhibition in Bangalore on Wednesday.— Photo: Shraddha Vishwakarma
Visitors at the launch of Education U.K. exhibition in Bangalore on Wednesday.— Photo: Shraddha Vishwakarma

Notwithstanding stringent visa regulations and the sliding rupee, the United Kingdom (UK) is still confident of retaining Indian students as the largest cohort of foreign students from South Asia (30,000 of the four lakh foreign students).

The British Council organised the Education UK exhibition here on Wednesday, where 56 universities participated as part of its ‘GREAT Britain’ campaign. On offer was the largest-ever number of scholarships announced for Indian students — 370 new scholarships worth almost one million pounds in 260 undergraduate and postgraduate courses ranging from engineering, law, business, art and design, biosciences and information technology. They will be applicable for the September 2014 and January 2015 intakes.

Ottolie Wekezer, regional director, Services of International Education Marketing (South Asia), British Council, said a part of the campaign was aimed at ‘setting the record straight’ around the visa issue. “The visa process for genuine students will be easy. We have made a 10-minute film which outlines the whole process. There is some confusion around the issue and we are trying to clarify,” she maintained.

Asked about the other ‘drawback’ of studying in the U.K. that emerging alternative higher education destinations are capitalising on — the lack of a stay back option — she said, “The policy is very clear. Students who get a graduate level job and earn over 20,000 pounds a year can apply for three years work visa.” As for the financial constraints Indian students are faced with due to the fall of the rupee, she said the ‘new money’ being offered as part of the new scholarships would benefit them.

She added that apart from attracting more Indian students to study in the U.K., next year, the council was also looking at sending a large number of British students to study and work in India.

Paul Sellers, director, British Council Operations, south India, said it was too early to tell whether the downturn had an impact on admissions. “Indian students prepare well. Increasingly in India, people do have the means.”

Speaking about the campaign, Mr. Sellers said, “We are in a competitive environment where many countries are offering good education. The campaign is not exactly a wake up call. It is not a reactive approach. It is business as usual.”

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