U.K. opens its doors

FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH: Eager students throng the stalls.

FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH: Eager students throng the stalls.  

A RECENT study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) pointed out that students going to university in the United Kingdom (U.K.) get a better personal rate of return from higher education than in any other country. The Education U.K. exhibition of the British Council held in Kochi last week highlighted this strength of British education.

The city responded to the education mela with warmth. Over 1,000 prospective young students visited the two-day show.

Thirty-one universities from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland took part in the event organised for the second time by the British Council. Last year, there had been 25 colleges and universities. The organisers looked enthused at the growing response from students. The next year, British Council assures, the youth can expect a larger fair.

The British Council chose Kochi for the show as it does not have a physical presence in the city. "No doubt this is the best place to conduct such a show," said Jacqui Allan, British Council Education Promotion Manager for India.

The greatest attraction of this education fair was that the British Council offered the students 100 per cent assurance on the quality and genuineness of the institutions. "We only work with bona fide, quality institutions," said Ms. Allan.

She said anyone visiting the expo could rest assured of meeting a quality institution. It was this single point that made the show different from the usual ones, where guarantees are generally not offered.

The institutions that participated in the show were: Aston University, University of Bath, Bradford College, University of Brighton, University of Bristol, Brunel University, University of Central Lancashire, London City University, De Montford University, The University of Derby, University of Greenwich, University of Hertfordshire, University of Hull, Keele University, Kingston University, Leeds Metropolitan University, The University of Liverpool, London International College of Business & Technology, London Metropolitan University, London South Bank University, University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Middlesex University, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University College Northampton, Queen's University Belfast, The Robert Gordon University, Staffordshire University, University of Sunderland, Thames Valley University, and University of Westminster.

The British Council had also arranged interactive classes on undergraduate and vocational courses, post-graduate courses and student visas. While experts handled the hour-long sessions on courses at different levels, visa officials from the Deputy High Commissioner's office in Chennai explained at length student visa norms.

The show differed from others in its timing too. It began at 12 noon and went on till 7 p.m. "Our research has found that the afternoon is more convenient for most people," said L. Dhanasekaran, Manager, Education U.K. (South India). The response from the students dreaming of a U.K. degree substantiated the change in timing — something others can think about emulating.

There were a few universities offering on-the-spot admissions. They included Thames Valley University and the University of Hertfordshire.

Even though the University of Hertfordshire had over 100 registrations, Karen White, the international marketing executive of the University, declined to give the exact number of spot admissions made on the two days. The material given to the visitors by the British Council as well as by the stalls of individual institutions contained ample information for an aspirant. U.K. institutions offer a good support system to international students, including accommodation facilities, personal and academic support, the Council said.

Courses in the U.K. are shorter compared to other countries. One can complete a bachelor's degree in three years and a master's in a year. The Council pointed out that it was a good attraction. Students there are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during term time and full time in vacations.

According to the Council officials, there has been an increase in the number of students studying in the U.K. over the years. Fifteen thousand student visas were issued for 2004-2005 academic year. This, said the officials, marked a 10 per cent rise over the previous year.

Management and business studies, engineering, IT and communications, art and design, life sciences such as biotechnology, bioinformatics, microbiology, molecular biology, media studies, medicine and paramedical courses such as physiotherapy and pharmacy, and law are some of the courses that attract Indian students in the U.K.


Photos: H. Vibhu

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