Tuesday, June 02, 2015

British students scramble for Indian varsities

In a reverse trend, Britain is now seeing a mad rush among its students to know modern India and become part of the country's amazing growth story.

Over 6,000 students from across British universities have applied to fill 400 spots under the first of its kind Generation UK programme - a project under which 25,000 British students will travel to India over the next five years to understand the country and enhance their chances of employability in global Indian business houses.

An additional 400 British students have applied for just 100 positions to teach across 60 Indian schools. Some of them are also getting internships to work in Delhi's ministry of skills development.

The overall batch of 500 will leave for India at the end of June. They will be placed across five Indian universities --- Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad), Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore), Delhi University, Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay) and the National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad).

Richard Everitt, head of education at British Council India told TOI, "We have seen an unprecedented interest among British students to be part of the India growth story. This is the first year of the Generation UK programme. Next summer, we plan to send 1000 British students and are appealing to more Indian universities to create space for them. At present we have five Indian universities who have agreed to accommodate British students. By next year, we expect to have 25."

Everitt added that the Council has seen a "terrific interest in British students wanting to gain teaching experience in Indian schools". Everitt said, "The programme is for three main reasons. A lot of UK employers are saying that British students aren't career ready and aren't competitive enough when they leave university and look for jobs. So we want them to go out into the world and gain international experience and understand India better. We also want to improve the balance - at present 20,000 Indian students go to UK to study but hardly a few British students come to India".

The programme starts with a Make in India initiative from July 1 which will see students spend two weeks in Mumbai, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi learning what drives India's manufacturing economy such as rural textiles, handicrafts and new technologies.

Between July 25 and August 7, they will learn about the Indian economy, history and culture by spending two weeks in Mumbai and Delhi, hearing from industry experts, academics and peers. Between September 30 and October 13, British students will learn about the relationship between technology entrepreneurship by travelling across Mumbai and Bangalore "exploring the importance of technology and developing your ideas with Indian peers".

The Council's India director Rob Lynes told TOI it will provide the practical support students need, as well as working with governments, academic institutions, industry and commerce in India. He said "the trip will help British youngsters become more eligible for jobs in global Indian companies through their understanding of India's work ethics and culture. At present, many Indian employers are not satisfied with the cultural awareness of British graduates".

He added "India will shape the 21st century and Britain's youngsters must have enough knowledge about the country. Even though India and UK have a long shared history, the 21st century relationship will be very different. At present, young Britons don't understand contemporary India. Generation UK will give them knowledge about what modern India is actually like. It will involve a whole variety of activities - from internships in companies in India to cultural courses and teaching opportunities in Indian schools".

Lynes added "The better they know India, the more they will engage with it. UK's trade with India is increasing every year and we need more British youngsters to be eligible to work in India's multi-national companies".

Source: The Times of India, June 2, 2015

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