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‘Keen to attract as many Indian students as possible’

Posted on December 28, 2015
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The UK government’s Chevening scholarship programme is now the world’s largest, and is extending 130 scholarships with a budget of £2.6 million for 2015-16, says Andrew Soper, Minister Counsellor (Political and Press) British High Commission, and acting High Commissioner to India. Soper recently kicked off the Education UK Exhibition, attended by 60 UK-based universities in the capital. He spoke to BL on Campus on why the UK is a compelling destination for Indian students. Excerpts:

The options to study abroad are expanding, with students going to other European countries, as well as New Zealand and Australia. Why would Indian students opt for the UK instead?

We are very keen to attract as many Indian students as possible. We recognise that it is a great deal to decide to study abroad. You have to get a visa, and the education itself is quite expensive.

We are trying to address these issues and make things easier. We are also trying to make the process for an Indian student to get a visa as simple and painless as possible.

In addition, we are simplifying the application process, and are extending guidance on how to apply.

We have opened more visa application centres all over India. There are more centres in India than in any other country. The net result is that getting a student visa for the UK is not difficult.

You just need to have admission in the University, and need to speak good English, and you are pretty much going to get your visa. Last year, 88 per cent of visa applications to the UK were successful.

The other thing is scholarships. We recognise that it’s very expensive to study overseas, and have been increasing the number of scholarships.

For example, in the Chevening country scholarship scheme, a flagship international scheme of the British government, we have invested much money in India over the last two years.

This year, we are offering 130 fully-funded (fees, accommodation, living expenses, airfares) Chevening scholarships. These are post-graduate scholarships to study in the UK. We now have in India our largest Chevening scholarship programme. And then there are the ‘Great’ scholarships that we offer; this year, we will offer 260 Great scholarships in collaboration with British Universities.

Do Indian students get employed in the UK? In case they come back home, is the UK system conducive to working in an emerging economy?

We are very confident that the degree you earn in the UK will be a very valuable one and will bring you success as a freshman in India or anywhere in the world. If you choose to study and then work in the UK you can do so, so long as you get a recognised graduate level job that pays you about £21,000 a year.

How many Indian students do you expect will come to the UK?

The UK attracts over 93,000 international students annually and, of those, the largest numbers are Americans, Chinese and then Indians.

Looking at the statistics, in terms of where Indian students go to study internationally, at top of the list is the US, followed by the UK.

What programmes are Indian students usually more interested in?

Traditionally, Indian students have opted for management, business, IT and engineering courses.

But the UK has about 40,000 different courses and now they are taking up various other vocational courses too.

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